The Real Cost of Off-Campus Housing

This post is in collaboration with Zillow. Miriam Bornstein, the Senior Marketing Content Coordinator for Zillow, writes about the most expensive college towns to live in. 

With back to school in full force, students are learning to navigate their new campuses, study for exams and learn which cafeteria serves the best late night snacks. Freshman may enjoy the routine of their new lifestyles, but most begin considering off-campus living as they approach their second year. Living away from home, whether on campus or not, can get costly based on location.

In fact, many high school seniors are thinking about selecting a college soon, which means they need to calculate some serious math around cost of living. It’s important to take off-campus housing expenses into consideration when deciding where to attend college.

Zillow recently released a new study revealing that 80 percent of the top 35 national universities (named on the U.S News & World Report’s Best Colleges of 2017) are located in pricey rental markets. To put this in perspective, students who live off campus near top colleges can expect to pay $1,223 to $6,139 per month in rent alone.

The most expensive college rental market on Zillow’s list is Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA where students pay a median of $6,139 for off-campus housing – nearly five times more than the national median rent. On the opposite side of the spectrum, The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN, has the lowest off-campus housing costs, with a median rent of $723 a month. If your dream is to become one of the fighting Irish, your wallet will be better lined than as a cardinal.

Even if housing isn’t a cost at the forefront of your mind, it’s vital to factor in cumulative college expenses from the get-go to budget accordingly and hopefully save you time and money down the road.

If you’re curious to see how rent stacks up in other U.S. metros, find local cost breakdowns near the college of your choice.

Off-Campus Housing Costs

Most Expensive Off-Campus Housing

  1. Stanford University, Stanford/Palo Alto, CA
  2. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
  3. University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
  4. California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
  5. University of Southern California & University of California – Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

Least Expensive Off-Campus Housing

  1. University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame/South Bend, IN
  2. Washington University, St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
  3. University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
  4. Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC
  5. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

Okay, wow. Some of this housing is super expensive! Could you imagine paying $6,000 per month for RENT? I sure can’t! Super thankful for my on-campus apartment right about now!

Do any of you live in these metropolitans? Would you like to see more guest posts like these? Let me know in the comments!

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26 Replies to “The Real Cost of Off-Campus Housing”

  1. College rent is not cheap thats for sure!

  2. I lived in Winston! Very affordable but this is all so true! Terrible that they can do this to students!

    1. I guess they know we’ll end up paying for it even if we don’t like it!

  3. I totally expected UC Berkeley to be on this list because the Bay Area is so expensive.

    1. It’s probably pretty far up there!

  4. Wow college rent is so expensive!!

  5. I went to Duke, and I only paid $620 per month to live in a nice apartment complex! Durham isn’t an expensive place to live at all… don’t know where they got $1286 from!

    1. Perhaps they’re basing the rate off of the whole apartment and not just what a single person pays? Not entirely sure!

  6. Uh it is so sad students just can’t get a break. That is a big reason why I am staying on campus as long as I can!

    1. True that Sydney!

  7. I definitely could not imagine paying $6,000 in rent!! Thats crazy!

    Rachel |

    1. I know right? Absolutely insane!

  8. $6000 for rent?! Holy cow!! I actually moved off campus my sophomore year to a apartment and it has saved me a lot of money because it was just cheaper to live in a apartment. This was such an interesting read!
    Amy | Pastel N Pink

    1. I know some are a lot cheaper than on campus housing, but there are those ridiculous ones that cost an arm and a leg every month!

  9. I lived in an apartment in Nashville before it got so popular and rent was great! I loved it so much more than living on campus.

    Greta |

    1. I bet! I sometimes wish I had an off-campus apartment rather than one that the university leases, but oh well!

  10. Goodness gracious! This makes me kinda glad that I live at home.

    Alix |

    1. Haha, I can imagine!

  11. So my off campus apartment was under $300 with everything included. Right now I’m in Boston and could not imagine paying that much in housing!

    This is a great, interesting post!

    1. Oh my goodness, that’s an awesome price for rent!

  12. Wow this is really interesting! I lived both on campus and off. I personally found the latter to be better for me, but yes it’s so expensive!

    1. It’s ridiculous how expensive things are!

  13. I cannot believe how expensive is!!!! I mean, that high number in the range is SO much more than what we pay for a mortgage. So insane!

    1. Right? So insane!

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