Student Housing In San Diego Is Affordable Right Now
Of all the priorities you have for your college experience – gaining the skills that will help you land a fulfilling job after graduation, forging friendships that can last a lifetime, exploring your personal interests – “not going into crushing debt” is probably pretty high on your list.
It’s no secret that the cost of a college education keeps getting more and more expensive, and it’s not just tuition that drives this cost. You need to have a place to stay during your four-year college career, and unless you’re one of the lucky few who can live at home for the duration, that means paying rent for some form of housing. But which type of housing is best for you: an on-campus dorm, off-campus student housing or a traditional rental apartment?
In San Diego in particular, student housing is currently surprisingly affordable–significantly more so than the alternatives. So before you sign a lease, here’s what you should know about the relative costs of living for all the housing options available to San Diego college students.
Student Apartments vs. Living in an On-Campus Dorm in San Diego
To approximate the costs of living in an on-campus dorm in the San Diego area, let’s take a look at the average costs of San Diego State University’s on-campus housing options. The absolutely cheapest option for dorm living as an upperclassman is in a triple room. For the privilege of sharing a small room with two other students, you’ll need to pay over $900 a month! The least expensive option for a double room will cost you $1,017 per month; if you value your privacy and would like a single, you’ll need to shell out over $1,200 a month. (Keep in mind that these are just for the cheapest options; more well-equipped and centrally-located dorms will cost you even more.)
This doesn’t even take into account all of the added costs associated with living in a dorm. Paying extra for a meal plan is often a school requirement. Even if it isn’t, however, living in a dorm provides you with few other food options. You could try to make all of your meals in your dorm’s kitchen, but good luck reliably carving out a time to make a meal in a space that you share with potentially dozens of other students–and you’ll still have to contend with the possibility of your food disappearing when your back is turned. You could rely on take-out, but that’s even pricier than a meal plan (and often much less healthy). Or you could resign yourself to a diet of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but that’s really too sad to even contemplate.
Other fees like parking costs, on-campus recreation center dues, and residence hall activity fees aren’t always that much in themselves, but when added to the already high costs of dorm living, they can add up.
Compare this to living in off-campus housing. In an off-campus student housing complex just a couple of minutes away from campus, you can find a single room for as little as $940 a month. Over the course of the year, that adds up to over $3,500 in savings! Prices for double rooms are similarly less expensive–and you’ll never even have to consider sharing a triple room.
Off-Campus Student Housing vs. Regular Apartment Rentals in San Diego
Clearly, in the dorm versus off-campus housing cost debate, student apartments come out way ahead. But what about when compared to traditional rental apartments in San Diego?
The difference in pricing here can be just as stark. San Diego is currently in the middle of an unpredicted upward trend in rents, with average rents across the city hitting an all-time high as of fall 2018. According to RENTCafe, the average rent across the city for all rentals is $2,044. That breaks down to an average rent of $1,483 for studio apartments, $1,798 for a one-bedroom and $2,207 for two-bedroom apartments. Of course, that’s for the city on the whole. If you narrow it down to the most desirable neighborhoods in San Diego, you can see rents go up considerably, with an average studio apartment rent of $1,610 in the city’s most in-demand areas.
So apples-to-apples, rents for traditional apartments in San Diego are quite a bit more expensive than for student apartments. As with dorms, however, you also have to take into consideration the additional costs associated with choosing a regular rental during your college years. Most off-campus student housing complexes include some amount of allowance for utilities, and high-speed Internet is often included free of charge. This is much less common for traditional rental apartments. Cost-of-living database Numbeo estimates that the average utility bill in San Diego is $117 a month, and the average cost of Internet in the city is $57 a month. That means you’ll need to budget an extra $175 dollar every month on top of your rent if you choose a regular rental apartment.
The added costs for traditional apartments go beyond utilities and the Internet. Unless you’re willing to pay extra to live in a desirable neighborhood near your college campus, you have to factor in the costs of commuting. Like to stay fit? While many student housing complexes have a complimentary gym on-site, few traditional apartment buildings do (unless you’ve invested in a pricey luxury option)–and gym memberships can be expensive.
In short, the answer is clear: off-campus housing stands to save you thousands–maybe even tens of thousands–of dollars over the course of your four years in college in San Diego. (Unless, of course, you’re able to commute to college from your family home. Nothing beats free, after all.)
Best of all, you’re not even giving up anything by opting to live in student apartments over the alternative. In terms of space, amenities, proximity to campus, social opportunities, and overall student living, off-campus student housing has a leg up on both dorms and traditional rentals, making it the obvious choice for any student looking to save money and enjoy their college years.
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