As the school year draws to an end it can be tempting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and push everything except exams to the back of your mind. One major decision that you should carve out some time to think about however, is where you will live next year and what your ideal housing scenario looks like.There are many pros and cons to weigh when trying to decide between on-campus residence and renting a place away from campus. While cost is obviously a large factor, trying to find the right personal fit includes several other considerations. Taking the time to make the right decision now, will go a long way towards getting next year off on the right foot.
At first glance, living on campus can seem quite expensive relative to finding a house to rent with several of your friends. Canadian colleges and universities vary widely on their residence fees, but a quick online search of their websites revealed that across the country, residence fees, including meal plans, internet, and all associated utilities can range from $8,000 to $14,000 for an 8-month stay.
Don’t forget that these fees cover the expenses that you’d have to pay for separately if you lived off campus. Such as:
- Rent (duh)
- Utility hook-up fees
- Commuting costs
Another cost consideration involves your summer plans. If you plan on going home for summer or travelling to pursue employment opportunities, then getting locked into a 12-month lease on a house means that you could be stuck paying rent in two places, or going to the trouble of subletting for the summer months.
While it is possible to find 8-month leases in some housing markets, in my experience it is much more common for landlords to demand 12-month leases for any housing option remotely close to major campuses.If you’re renting – read your lease carefully and keep in mind you could be hit with a big expense right away. Often, landlords will ask for both first and last month’s rent up front. Some universities even offer lease review services, so it’s worth checking it out.
Looking ahead to next year, some questions you might want to ask yourself when it comes to determining your preferred living arrangements include:
- How important is it to me to get to choose the people I live around and share a bathroom with?
- What sort of premium do I place on the time I save by not travelling to and from school, not making my own meals, not doing my own grocery shopping, and not cleaning a lot of shared living spaces?
- Do I prize the option to limit the noisiness and distraction where I live, or am I cool with walking to the library in order to study?
- Is living close to a wide array of campus activities, clubs, sports venues, and general facilities something that I am likely take full advantage of?
- Am I the type of person to save money by comparison shopping on rent, groceries and other necessities - or is convenience worth paying slightly more for?