Cost is one of the biggest factors in determining whether or not to attend post-secondary school. The expense of just obtaining a certificate or degree can be overwhelming for many.

But tuition isn’t the only significant financial consideration for students. In fact, what the average student pays for room and board during one school year can be double what they paid to attend school in the first place.

While that number may sound daunting, there are many options that students can explore to cut costs while still having a comfortable place to call home during their studies.

We’ll take a look at the different housing options for those attending school in this post.

Staying With Family

One of the go-to options for many students is to live with family members while they complete their studies. This can be the perfect option for those who are attending school close to home, but it can be less feasible for anyone going to school out of town.

How much it costs you depends on your family. Some families don’t ask for rent or board, while others will expect a small fee to cover groceries and utilities.

If you do have family close to school, consider asking them whether it would be an option for you. Aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and grandparents are all worth asking if you think you can live with them, and if it will help you to keep costs down.

Dorm/Campus Housing

Many people avoid dorms because they believe that they are more expensive than other options. While the price for a school year can seem high, you need to remember that it includes heat, electricity, water, internet, etc. And don’t forget about on-campus resources offered by the school, such as a cafeteria and parking.

You’ll also save on transportation costs, since you won’t need to commute from your house to your classes.

Dorm options often include:

  • Single (one person to a room)
  • Double (two people to a room)
  • Triple/Quad (3-4 people per room)
  • Substance-free (strictly drug and alcohol free)
  • Single-sex (only females or only males to a building)
  • Co-ed (mixed sexes in one building)

Shared Rental

A shared rental is when you and a few other people share a rental together. Most of the time this means having your own bedroom and sharing the rest of the living space with others.

Splitting costs can be a great way to save money while still having a place of your own. While dorms can offer privacy, they aren’t great for entertaining visitors such as friends or family members from out of town.

Shared rentals are quite common for students, and there are often many options for you to choose from that are still relatively close to school.

Shared rental options generally include:

  • Houses
  • Multi-bedroom apartments/flats
  • Co-op housing (often with shared bedrooms)

Shared rentals can also mean that you rent a single room from a homeowner, instead of sharing a space with other students. Sometimes, landlords will include board and utilities in the cost, providing you with a simple flat fee for living there.

Shared rentals can be a little more accommodating for students who plan to have visitors or who prefer to be around other people.

Single Rentals

Single rentals are one of the most expensive options for students, and should only be considered if you know you can afford it. Single rentals are when you rent a space for yourself, such as a home, basement suite, apartment, etc.

This would be a private space that you rent for yourself, instead of sharing it with other students or the homeowners. If you need your privacy, and you are getting help with your costs from scholarships, a job, or family, it’s something for you to think about at least.

Make sure that you can factor the cost into your budget comfortably before making a commitment so that you aren’t left without funds halfway through the school year.

Tiny Homes

Tiny homes are quickly becoming a trend, and they aren’t just for people who want to have a smaller carbon footprint. They’re a great way for students to keep debt down while still having a place to live.

This option combines both renting and purchasing as you would typically purchase a tiny home to live in while in school, and then rent the land that it sits on. If you have a family member or friend who has some land close to the school, you might even be able to use it for free.

The best part about these homes is that they are completely portable, meaning that if you expect to do a lot of traveling while attending school, or if you need to move to a different area, a tiny home might be a good option for you.

Tiny homes still cost money, and depending on whether you buy new and how fancy you need it to be, they can get pricey. But unlike monthly rent, your money will be going towards the home, which you can always resell later.

You may even be able to get loan repayment terms that are less than what you would be paying in rent, opening up your budget a little for costs like books, groceries, and activities.

Purchasing a House

Chances are that as a student, you haven’t got a lot of savings. But if you do, you might want to think about using it to put a down payment towards a condo or townhome and renting out the extra space to cover the mortgage.

You’ll build equity while in school instead of putting money towards rent, which will help you to build a stable financial future for when you have finished school.

Investment property is also a great way to secure long-term income, since you can continue to rent the property after you have graduated, or sell it to recoup all of your equity.

You may need a co-signer, especially if you don’t have much credit experience and you don’t have any relevant work history, so if you want to explore this option, discuss it with whoever you think might be willing to become your co-signer.

Remember that properties close to universities are often pricey, depending on how close they are and the area. You should also expect to have renters, meaning that you’ll take on the responsibility of being a landlord on top of making sure your assignments are submitted on time.

Stepping Into Real Estate

If you are attending university right after high school, this is likely your first personal experience with real estate. Don’t feel overwhelmed—explore all of your options carefully and ask for advice from friends and family members who can provide insight.

Even if you are attending school as a mature student, you’ll still need to weigh your options as it’s likely your decision will affect your budget, at least temporarily.

The best way to be confident in your decision is to be informed about your alternatives and to keep your choice in line with your financial goals. By doing so, you can take a lot of stress off of yourself, allowing you to focus on your courses instead of your living expenses.

If you are preparing to go to school, what are your living arrangements? If you have been to school already, where did you live during your first year?

Posted by Brittany Foster

Brittany is a writer, editor, and content manager interested in law, marketing, and technology. She's been writing for LawDepot since 2014.