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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How many students can you fit into an apartment?

The luxury of a single bedroom in residence is wonderful but expensive.  Residence is already expensive for what you get (a room and bathroom access), although there are benefits: making friends with other first year students; a fully furnished room; access to lots of programs and sympathetic dons or upper-year students; internet and TV; access to a kitchen; etc.  However, living in residence is mostly for first year students (of both college and university) so come second year, most students opt to move away from residence and into an apartment or a house close(ish) to campus.  Most likely, you will need to share this place to make it financially viable.  With a fixed rent for the entire home, there are only a few ways to reduce your own monthly rent.

First of all, although most people decide on the number of students that can fit a house/apt by the number of bedrooms, remember your residence year: perhaps you shared a room and it wasn’t all that bad an experience.  Could you do the same once out of residence?  There is not rule that each student must have a single room; see if the largest bedroom could be shared by two students.  Then these two students would get a reduced rent rate, and everyone sharing the house/apt would get lower rent as well since the total number of people paying rent would be more.

Second, sometimes extra bedrooms can be ‘added’ to the house, reducing everyone’s share of the rent.  For example, if a house has a basement that can be used, can bedrooms be added there? Or can someone use the living room as a bedroom if the common room is the kitchen or part of the basement?  I’ve seen a student house in which the front entry way, closed by a door, could have been a great bedroom (with windows and all) as long as everyone agreed to use the side door of the house at all time.

Third, are all the bedrooms created equal? Most likely, there are better and less good ones and the rent share should reflect that – don’t go entirely by the square footage because everyone will have the same access to the bathrooms and the kitchen/common rooms, but it’s perfectly reasonable that the best bedroom be $50 more per month than the least desirable one.  If you are willing to take the ‘worst’ bedroom, this is a saving of $600 per year.

As you can see, simply taking the monthly rent and dividing it by the number of bedroom isn’t enough math to save you money; therefore, sit down with your future housemates to discuss what everyone is willing to do in order to save money – if they aren’t willing to budge, you may have the wrong housemates, or perhaps you can convince them by pointing out how many nights out or beers the savings equate to.  Have a good search, and divide in order to conquer your finances!

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