Getting a college degree is getting increasingly more expensive, with tuition seeming to increase every year. One of the biggest challenges to getting through college with a reasonable budget is housing. A place to live that does not break the bank can be a challenge. Thankfully there are options though, and here are some of the best.
Living at Home
While not the most exciting option, it is certainly the cheapest. Forget the fact that community colleges and smaller branches of larger schools charge less in tuition, and just consider the fact that there probably will not be much of a rent bill involved, if any. Living with your parents eliminates the dorm fee each year, which is thousands of dollars, or rent on a house or apartment, which is going to be a few hundred bucks a month before you even think about utilities.
Parents might ask for a nominal fee for you living at home after high school, but it will still save quite a bit over living on your own. Living with mom and dad has the additional perk of not having to pay so much for food, since you can always get home cooked meals most nights, or at least raid the fridge.
Roommates Off Campus
Living off campus is generally what most college students want to do anyway, as it offers more freedom than living at home or being in a dorm. The problem lies in the fact that a home off campus can be very expensive, and the costs associated with it can also mount quickly. Utilities and food costs can be quite costly for one person to bear alone.
The solution can be found by deciding on living with friends in a house or apartment off campus. Small two bedroom houses can be affordable for two people, and three or four people can make living in a larger house very affordable by splitting rent, electricity, water, and cable and internet costs. Food can be even cheaper, as you can go shopping together to split the costs of making meals for one another, reducing the chance that you will end up throwing out leftovers or spend too much on frozen food.
Carpooling to campus can make things easier, especially if you are not on a campus bus route. Of course, you do not have to worry about having your own couch, TV, cookware, microwave, and other essentials, as you can share the costs of these items as well.
Care must be taken when deciding who to live with though. Make sure your roommates fit your lifestyle in terms of cleanliness, noise, and general schedule. Make sure you make agreements about when bills will be paid, as someone not paying can present as serious conflict. Other ground rules, like who cleans what, who every roommate is and is not comfortable with being there, and “quiet hours” should be discussed as well.
So maybe you just don’t like living in a house with other people your age. This can be understandable, as some people have their own habits and schedules that don’t really work with other people. Efficiency apartments can handle this quite well, giving you an affordable space with just enough for you. They typically have a combination living room and bedroom, kitchen space, and a bathroom. You can live comfortably alone in one of these apartments, just do not expect too many big parties.
Many universities require incoming freshmen to live on campus. This might not be the coolest option, but it can be done rather cheaply. There are likely to be dorms that are much cheaper than others, and these should be the ones you apply for if you want to save money. Meal plans are almost an essential when living on campus, but opting for the smaller plan is usually a good idea. Most students end up with leftover meals, as they like going out to restaurants and fast food establishments in town with friends. Do not waste your money for meals you never eat. Additional savings can be accomplished if you become a Resident Adviser, a student who lives in the dorms and helps keep the behavior civil.
These ways can make housing during college very affordable. Saving money during college will make your time after college much easier, since loan bills can be quite a shock for someone who decided to enjoy themselves a little too much during school.