Budgeting, Roommates and Good Neighbors


Depending on individual situations, you may be responsible for paying for all of your expenses. So, it is important to have a good idea of what all of those are. First you will want to determine what your monthly income will be. Ideally your income will be greater than your expenses, enough so that you also have some extra money to build a savings.

The main expenses of living off campus include rent, utilities, transportation, and groceries. However, keep in mind any other expenses you have (car or phone payments and loan bills). Rent is a set rate that will usually be the same throughout your lease. Utilities however will fluctuate depending on the time of year. Specifically heating and AC will increase the electric bill. Depending on your type of transportation you will need to consider the cost of fuel per month when traveling to and from campus. For groceries, consider all of the local options as the prices can be drastically different depending on where you shop.

Tips to Save:

Water is typically the cheapest utility, but it might be necessary to keep showers quick to minimize usage.

Avoid eating out often as preparing food yourself is much less expensive.

When shopping for food, buying in bulk and avoiding name brand items can be cheaper.

Living with roommates will greatly reduce rent and utility cost. Typically, it is much cheaper to split a 2+ bedroom apartment among several people than for one person to pay for a studio or 1 bedroom.

To avoid high increases in electric or gas bills consider opening windows in the summer and bundling up in the winter instead of using heat and AC. Alternatively, avoid setting the thermostat too high or too low as a few degrees can make a big difference in how much the unit will have to run.

If you are close enough to campus it might be worth riding a bike or walking instead of driving to save on gas. Or consider carpooling with roommates or other nearby students.

Finding a Roommate

If you decide to live with a roommate(s), choosing the right one(s) is just as important as choosing the right place to live. They will impact your social life, financial decisions, and off-campus safety. They can be a lot of fun or bring added stress.

When choosing a potential roommate, it is important to clearly communicate the expectation you have of one another. Not sure where to start? Here are some lifestyle considerations:

  • What are you looking for in a roommate?
  • What are your sleeping habits?
  • How much time do you spend in the bathroom/shower?
  • What are your study habits?
  • Who do you feel about guests? Overnight guests?
  • Do you want to split the grocery bills or share groceries?
  • How is the space to be divided?
  • How will storage space in the kitchen be divided?
  • How will chores be divided? Cleaning of common areas?
  • Who will set up utility accounts?
  • Is smoking or drinking allowed?
  • If you want to host parties, how often will they occur?
  • Are pets allowed?

Good Neighbor Practices

  • Keep the property clean and safe.
  • Dispose of all garbage appropriately.
  • Keep all common areas safe and sanitary.
  • Be aware of your neighborhood's off street parking laws and practices throughout various seasons.
  • Party Responsibility: Monitor noise levels, parking, littering, public urination, and all possible violations.
  • Excessive noise is the largest neighborhood nuisance. You're living in an area that is not only for students - be considerate of everyone around you.