Student Housing Options

You applied, you waited, you worried and now you've been accepted into college or university! Yay! If you won't be attending a school close to home, you now have to decide where you're going to live while studying. You basically have three options: living in residence, renting, or taking a big step up and buying a house or condo.

Living on campus

Some campuses offer student housing or dormitories. This is a great way to fully experience campus life and to be surrounded by students from other cultures and countries. Every university or college is different, so be sure to ask before you commit; you might be sharing a room with another student or you could have a suite all to yourself.

To calculate the expenses of living on campus, find out if your monthly rent will include parking, utilities, phone, cable & internet, laundry facilities, meals and furnishings. You might need to buy bedding, a mini-fridge, lamps, etc.

Renting a room, apartment or house

Start hunting for a rental and you'll find all kinds of possibilities, from a room in a home to an entire house. You could also think about sharing your accommodations with other students and splitting the costs. Clearly understand what's included in your lease and what's not. Are any special conditions attached to your rental agreement? If your landlord says no smoking, you could be evicted for breaking the rules. And that's never fun.

Buying a house or condo

Wait a second here. After paying your tuition fees and expenses, aren't you going to be living on noodles and pizza like everyone else? How can you possibly afford a house or condo?  

Okay, so do you have enough savings (or from your parents) to make a down payment? If so, it could make just as much financial sense to own as to rent. You'll end up with an education as well as equity in a home. If you have a spare bedroom or three in your house or condo, you could get other students to rent them from you and this added income can help cover your monthly mortgage payment. If you go this route, it's helpful to have a written agreement about the financial details, rental terms, your expectations and boundaries and your roomies' responsibilities around the house. Might want to have a lawyer quickly check your agreement over first, too.

Of course, as an owner, house or condo expenses are your responsibilities. Before buying anything, factor in property taxes and home insurance, as well as a contingency fund for unexpected events like leaky plumbing or broken appliances.


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