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I saved more than $6,000 by living off campus

Illustration: Jack Westerheide | Managing Editor for Design

When I first moved off campus, I was intimidated by everything I had to budget for: rent, utilities and groceries, just to name a few. Looking at all these expenses makes it hard to think I am actually saving money by living off campus. So I decided to sit down and actually do the math.

I save $6,224 per year living off campus.

To compare, I calculated the costs of Ohio State housing, a meal plan, toiletries, snacks and any other necessities not provided by the university. For my off-campus budget, I took into account how much I intend to spend over nine months, which is the time I would live in a dorm.

Here is how I came to my conclusion.

On-Campus Living Costs

Ohio State housing has four standard housing rates and four meal plan options. My first two years at Ohio State, I lived in a two-person room in Morrill Tower with the Gray 10 meal plan — which consists of 10 swipes per week, $200 in dining dollars and $150 in BuckID Cash — so I decided to use these prices in my comparison.

According to the university housing website, the price for a double in Morrill is $4,236 per semester, which comes out to $8,472 for the whole year. While this is a large sum of money, I wouldn’t have to worry about paying for any utilities, such as water, electric and gas, with Wifi and cable included. I also wouldn’t have to worry about restocking toilet paper, so that’s obviously a plus.

The Gray 10 meal plan costs $1,981 per semester, totaling $3,962 for the whole year, according to the university dining services website. With food you already paid for across campus, there is no need to go to the grocery store, but of course I have to budget for snacks.

In my cost for living on campus, I included $20 a month for extra necessities like toiletries and snacks while living in a dorm, which, for nine months, adds up to $180.

While I have a car now, I didn’t have a car when I lived in the residence halls — and most people don’t — so I didn’t include the price of a parking pass.

Total cost for living on campus: $12,614.

Off-Campus Living Costs

My rent is $492.50 a month, which includes Wifi. According to Undergraduate Student Government 2017-2018 Renter’s Guide, this price falls right around the average for what each person pays, and Wifi costs $70 a month for the most expensive package, according to WOW!’s website, so it’s convenient to have this cost already built in. With Wifi included, and being the cheapskates my roommates and I are, we don’t pay for cable. So my total cost of rent for nine months sums up to $4,432.50.

Utilities vary month-to-month, so I based my budget estimates off how much per month I paid last year living in a house with three other people. Here is what each comes down to: electric for $20, gas for $17.50; water for $10. Adding all of these up for nine months comes out to $427.50.

I shop at Aldi for groceries, so I am already ahead of the game in saving money on food. I budget for $100 a month. One of the downsides of living off campus is having to remember to stock your toilet paper, paper towels, toiletries and basically everything else you need to live civilly. I budget for $30 a month for these other necessary products. Between the two, I have a $1,170 budget for nine months.

Another downside of living off campus is having to pay for parking — that my landlord overcharges for — which costs me $40 a month. But I get to park right behind my house and I always have a spot waiting for me. But I also pay $360 over nine months for it. I could pay $100 a year to park on the street in front of my house, but no one needs to see me try to parallel park.

Total cost for living off campus: $6,390.

After doing some quick math, I estimated that I save $6,244 by choosing to live off campus. So if someone asks me if it’s worth it, the answer will always be yes.

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