Is it cheaper to live off-campus?

Andrew Keeler, Mitchell Gunther, Jason Comeau and Walter Lundstrom pose in their apartment.

Many students going into junior year try to move off campus because they believe it is a lot cheaper than the dorms, but will they save that much money?

Living in a house or an apartment can be a bit pricey, students say, with some having to pay rent every month and utilities such as WIFI, oil, gas and electricity. 

Living in the dorms, you don’t have to worry about those issues. But there are other issues, students say, like no hot water, heating being too hot, no air-conditioning and random roommates. 

Another thing to consider when thinking about living off-campus is groceries. In the dorms, you have meal plans but with that, you can only eat at certain times in the dining hall. 

On the Vermont State University Website, it states that the standard meal plan costs $2,622 per semester. 

Looking at billing statements from many students, they have all been charged $2,534 for an unlimited meal plan per semester, up from $2,437 last year. So, for both semesters last year, it was $4,874 compared to $5,068 this year. 

On the website, it includes how much it is estimated to cost for food off-campus, which was $3,998, a $1,516 difference. 

“I enjoy not relying on Huden for my meals, it is so much better being able to know exactly what I am eating,” VTSU Castleton student Walter Lundström said. 

The cost of living in the dorm, according to the VTSU website, it is about $4,052 per semester, or $8,104 for the year. Yet looking at students’ billing statements it says that for this semester it costs, $3,915, or $7,830 for the year. 

That fee is up about $300 per year from last year. The website also has an estimate of what living off-campus would cost, which is an estimate of $9,328 for the entire year. 

VTSU Castleton students Andrew Keeler and Walter Lundström live off campus in a house with their other friends. With four people in the house, they each pay $475 per month for rent. They also must pay for oil, gas, WIFI, and electricity, which is about $400 altogether every month. 

They pay around $875 per month and their lease is for 12 months, so they do have access to the house all year around unlike a dorm where you only have access during a specific amount of time. 

“I spend around $400 a month on groceries as well, but I do take advantage of a friend’s guest swipe for Huden here and there,” Keeler said. 

They pay an estimate of $10,500 each for the entire year in the house.

Another student, Tyler Serrani, lived off-campus last year and returned to dorms this year. His rent was $825 per person and about $40 for each for electricity per month. There were three people in the house, but they added a fourth roommate at one point, bringing the rent down to $650. By himself, he had to pay about $10,380 for the entire year, which is honestly not that big of a difference from living in the dorms. 

“I moved back to the dorms because I prefer living closer to my classes, and not having to drive my car as much is nice,” Serrani said. 

Tyler Serrani, who formerly lived in an apartment, shows off his dorm room

Castleton Hockey player, Jeremy Laplante, has never lived in the dorms due to his coaches suggesting and helping him get housing off-campus. 

“As a men’s team hockey player, living off campus was a major factor in committing here,” Laplante said. 

He lives in a house owned by a previous student who transferred, Dylan Miller. He has a nine-month lease, which is $400 a month but, has access to the house year-round. He pays about $3,600 for nine months, which is just about as much as one semester in a dorm.

So, looking over the data, it does seem like living off-campus for some people does cost more than living in the dorms, but it all depends on many different variables. The prices vary from different landlords and food costs differ. For some students, it is a little cheaper but for others, it’s only a little bit more expensive. 

“It may not be cheaper by much or at all, but having my own place is very nice. It gives you a different sense of freedom and independence than you would have in the dorms,” Lundström said. 

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