College Housing: Where Will You Live?

college housing financialsWith the start of college classes just around the corner, this is college orientation season for millions of freshmen-to-be all across the country.  If you’re among those future university attendees, you’ve probably got a ton of questions — not to mention a to-do checklist about a mile long.

We’re here to help.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll be rolling out a series of articles to help you get caught up and ready for the start of the fall semester in a few short weeks.  In our first article last week, we did a deep-dive on how to make sense of financial aid applications and navigate the related paperwork.  This week, we’re turning our attention from the financial side of school to something that’s just as important: where you are going to live next year.

Tops on the priority list for high school graduates is often, “Move out of mom and dad’s house.” And while sometimes mom and dad can’t agree more, that’s not always the best long-term financial move.

What are some of the options you have for room and board while you are in college?

There are plenty. Weighing the financial and personal benefits and downsides to each living situation can help you find the best possible option. Here are some possibilities for you to consider:

Living at Home
This is often the most affordable option, especially if your parents will let you live in their home rent-free. If your college is within driving distance, you can live for free, eat for virtually nothing, and have the moral support of your parents nearby.

The downside is being an adult and living in your parents’ home. This is not always an ideal situation for some new college students.

Living on your own brings added responsibility — managing money, paying bills, handling your own meals and laundry — and valuable experience for post-college life. Not to mention the social perks provided by living on campus alongside your peers. Living at home is smart financially, but it involves trade-offs that need to be evaluated too.

Living in the Dorms
Dorm life will help you meet people on campus and make it easier to get involved socially. The proximity makes it easier to walk, bike, or bus to class — saving money on gas you would spend on commuting.  Plus everything is right there where you are from extra-curriculars to flexible employment if you need a part-time job.  However, the convenience comes with a price tag.

The cost of living in the dorms varies by college and you often have at least one roommate in a very small room. There’s also the added cost of campus meals plan to consider.

Finding an Apartment
An apartment provides you the privacy of a home but at a lower cost than a house or some dorms. Finding a roommate will help defray some of the cost so you don’t have to foot the bill all on your own.

The downside is that apartment living can be more expensive than a dorm room when utilities and other expenses are added in. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of food as well!

Some college also limit the housing options for Freshmen to dorms or living at home with parents or family. So be sure to research your options before you plan to live off-campus during your first year.

Live With Family
If your college is away from home, living with other family members that reside in or near the college town is a great option. You’ll get to know your extended family a bit more, plus live at a relatively low cost. Perhaps you can babysit for younger cousins to help cover expenses.

The downside, again, is living in someone else’s home. If you’re looking to reconnect with family, though, this could be a great option.

Whatever housing option you choose during college, make sure you do your research and find an option that works for you-both financially and personally.  And if you need help sorting through your options, feel free to get in touch.

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