Opinion: Save 30% Off Housing by Switching to an Apartment

Nina Petropolous

UML Student

UML’s Solution Center has listed the preliminary residential housing rates for the 2015 – 2016 academic year. With increases of over 300 dollars for the traditional triple/quad style set-up, it may be time for students to explore other options for college housing.

Last year, students at the ICC found themselves not only living at a location with an excruciatingly long shuttle commute, but also paying more for their housing than they did for their tuition. For the fall of 2015, the ICC is to be priced at $9,100 that combined with the most popular meal plan, the Gold plan, brings the total housing cost to  $13450, over a thousand dollars more than tuition. Even the cheapest housing option paired with the Gold plan amounts to a sum not too far off from in-state tuition costs. A triple or quad will run you $12,060 each year, just shy of matching the $12447 tuition fee.  So with even the cheapest university hosted housing option running at such a high cost, what is the most effective option for housing?

While commuters who’s living situation’s have them paying no rent may have the best deal of all, for students that prefer to live on or near campus looking for an off-campus apartment its your best shot at finding the best deal.

Fortunately rent in Lowell is relatively cheap. With the average three bedroom going for just $1385 a month, students who wouldn’t mind two roommates are looking at paying just over $500 per month including utilities. Tag on a food budget of $50 a week and the yearly total for housing just dropped from $12,060 to $8,600. While switching to Geico could save you fifteen percent off your car insurance, signing a lease for an apartment instead of a university housing contract could save you nearly 30%.

But what else could you gain from switching? Just like how it’s never too early to start building your credit, it’s never too early to start building your credibility as a renter. After graduation, when you’re ready to lease an apartment close to your new job, landlords will almost always give preference to applicants that can list references testifying to their good behavior as a tenant. With leases college leases beginning in June and and ending in late May, college is the perfect time to begin building that credibility.

Other benefits include avoiding the mandatory fire drills, communal bathrooms, university policies like check in procedures and quiet hours. Plus a recent study from John Hopkins University reported that the more you cook, the more weight you lose. Learning how to balance a budget, shop effectively, and cook your own meals doesn’t just help prepare you for life later on, but also has some instant benefits for your waistline. Those who cooked at home for themselves ate 140 fewer calories each day. Add that up for a yearly total and you’re looking at the opposite of the “freshman fifteen”.

Whether you’re looking for a housing option that offers better amenities, privacy, or financial savings, an off-campus apartment is going to be your best bet for both instant and long term gains.

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