Where You Live Can Help Save on College Expenses
Living with your parents
Perhaps the easiest way to reduce living expenses is to live with your parents and commute to school. If your family lives within driving distance, your main expense will be gas and parking. If the bus or train is an option, that may reduce your transportation costs. Living with your parents can also help save you money on food and laundry as well.
The whole family can benefit from this arrangement since it means your parents won't have to help you pay the cost of living away from home, and you have the chance to save money while attending college.
When you live at home, consider your adult experience. There's a chance you might not develop the same life skills, such as budgeting and taking care of your own meals and clothes, when you rely on your parents to take care of you. Work out a way to practice these skills while you live at home.
Living on campus
When you live on campus, you don't have to worry about the commute for class or an on-campus job.
In addition to dorms, some universities offer apartment-style living that lets you live close to campus amenities while still making some of your own food. Consider that even when you live in dorms, it's also possible to purchase smaller plans, creating a hybrid situation where some of your food comes from school and some is prepared by you or obtained elsewhere. Whether you live in a dorm or on-campus apartment, the flexibility to prepare meals at home will help offset some of your costs.
Campus living can also be an advantage if you have an on-campus job or a work study position. Having everything close can help you better manage your schedule and save money because you won't spend the time and money on the commute.
Living on your own off-campus
The farther you are willing to live from campus, the lower your monthly rent is likely to be, although this isn't always the case. Look for a residence that fits your budget, no matter its location. You may need to account for a longer commute to campus that can impact your availability to work on top of going to school, as well as cost more money for transportation. However, carpooling with other commuter students can be one way to reduce gas and parking costs.
Another strategy is to choose to live near campus with roommates to save on housing expenses, and avoid commuting costs by walking or biking to campus. Housing next to a school can offer access to amenities without the same premium sometimes associated with living in dorms. This option offers you the ability to live independently while getting a taste of college life.
Before you make a decision about where to live, weigh your options and create a budget. No matter your living situation, look for strategies that can reduce your college expenses so you don't break your budget.