Students seek out apartment living to save money

The front of the Province apartment complex Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. 

When it comes to picking a place to live, students must do the math to decide if off-campus housing or dorms are the right choice for them.

Ultimately, it comes down to the fine details, like meal plans or utility bills.

Sophomore public relations major Robyn Berardi lived in Olson Hall her freshman year. After doing the math, she found that the dorms weren’t the best choice for her.

“I thought I would have to live in the dorms again because I thought it would save me money. But then I found out with all the extra costs, like meal plan, it ended up being cheaper to move off campus,” Berardi said.

Berardi estimated she was saving $1,500 a year by living off campus.

The numbers:

While Kent State University is changing the dining program for Fall 2018, the past plan only offered four price options for students.

The Lite Plan, the cheapest option, had a price tag of $1,856 per each semester.

Andy Dolin is a sophomore marketing major at Kent State who is planning to move off campus in order to save money and have a more independent living environment.

As an out-of-state student, Dolin lived in the dorms for the past two years. He was a resident in Prentice Hall his freshman year and currently lives in Centennial Court D.

“I will be saving about $5,000. I could be wrong, but that is what I would estimate,” Dolin said.

Dorms on campus begin at $3,330 and can go up to $5,262 per semester.

While dorm prices vary depending on the residence hall, Dolin feels he will save money by living in an apartment.

The Kent area offers a variety of apartment complexes that vary in price.

For example, Eagles Landing apartments , located on Morris Road, offers a standard two-bedroom apartment with a rental rate of $835 per month. This amount is split between the two occupants.

While Campus Pointe Apartments, located on Ashton Lane, offers two-, three- and four- bedroom apartment leases starting at $680 per person.

Dolin also said living without a meal plan will be beneficial to him and his financial situation. “I use my meal plan a lot,” Dolin said. However, he is not worried about the switch to cooking for himself. “I plan on not eating as much,” Dolin said.

Apartments come with additional expenses, like heating, that dorms do not. The Province, located on Lincoln Street, bills rent and electricity separately. 345 Flats, located downtown on South Depeyster Street, contracts its electricity out, so residents pay both rent and a separate electricity bill.

Other unforeseen costs for off-campus students can include gasoline and a parking pass.

Independent Living:

Patty McNerney is the community manager at The Province. McNerney works closely with students as they transition from dorm to apartment living.

“Living in an apartment really gives students a chance to mature. It is a true situation of independence. They don’t have mom and dad looking over their shoulder. It can really teach them how to manage money,” McNerney said.

Dolin said he is not worried about missing out on anything once he moves off campus.

“I feel like it really helps the college experience to live on your own and get to have that independent living experience,” said Dolin.

Berardi wanted a different living experience than what the dorms had to offer.

Berardi said cost was the ultimate factor in determining where she wanted to live for this school year, but she was also looking for the freedom and space that apartment life can offer students.

Berardi said the only flaw she has noticed with living off campus is the distance.

“I use to walk to all my classes in under 15 minutes, but now I have to drive to campus and then walk to class,” Berardi said.

McNerney said she has seen many students move into apartments in order to pursue both personal growth and financial stability.

“I think the need to save money is the number one reason students seek off-campus housing,” McNerny said.

“Off-campus housing offers more financial flexibility,” said McNerney. “With flexibility comes security. While I see a lot of parents that are still very much involved with paying rent, there are also students who are financially independent. Those students want the best deal they can find.”

Both Berardi and Dolin felt the lack of meal plan was a huge motivator for living off campus. McNerney agreed and wanted to encourage students to shop around for their groceries.

“Students should be looking online for the best deals and using coupons,” said McNerney.

Berardi said she grocery shops for her food and saves money by not eating out as an off-campus student.

McNerney offered other suggestions for ways students can save money by living in an apartment. “Invest in a Brita filter so you save money on bottled water. Also, if you use heavier drapes on your windows, you will keep the cold out.”