The hidden costs of off-campus living

Media Credit: Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor
Unlike living in a residence hall, you’ll have to worry about buying your own furniture if you move off campus.

When you’re trying to decide whether you’ll save money by living on or off campus, make sure you anticipate all the costs of living in that real-life apartment or townhouse.

You’ll most likely pay more than just rent. Here are some costs that could factor into what you pay on a monthly basis.


Depending on where you live, you may have to pay an additional cost for utilities. While some buildings, like The Elise, won’t charge you extra monthly fees, others, such as The Winston, can charge about $70 in utilities each month.

Cable and Internet

Living off campus also means you’ll likely be too far away to rely on GW’s wireless network at home. Some off-campus housing require you to sign up with a particular cable or Internet provider, like Comcast (package prices range from $40 to $80), Verizon FiOS (bundles cost between $50 and $115) and RCN (bundles cost between $58 and $100). Paying for the fastest WiFi, HBO and OnDemand might get pricey, so make sure you consider all your options and make a decision based on what you’ll use most.

You might also save money by skipping on cable and choosing to stream TV shows and movies via Chromecast, Amazon Fire or Netflix, though you’ll miss out on live events like sports games or political debates.

And since you most likely won’t need a landline, think about it before you get talked into paying for a cable bundle that includes unlimited calling, too.

Renters insurance

If you want to make sure your belongings are protected in case of an emergency, it’s probably worthwhile to invest in renters insurance. The nationwide average monthly cost of renters insurance is $20, Forbes reported in April.


Unless your apartment comes furnished, you’re going to have to spend cash on at least a bed and a mattress, and probably a couch, kitchen table, rugs and decorations. Buying used furniture from graduating seniors, friends or family members can help ease some of those costs, which can range from hundreds of dollars to thousands.

Townhouse fees

If you’re living in a townhouse, you’ll have to pay for a city trash can ($45) and a shovel ($10 to $30) for snow. You can also pay someone to take care of shoveling your walkways and sidewalk for you. If not, when snow comes, the city could hit you with up to $25 in fines.


If you live off campus, you lose the dining dollars on your GWorld card. Be sure to make a weekly budget for spending on food – or you could end up splurging on new ingredients at Whole Foods every other day.


Make sure to keep your apartment or townhouse in good condition. If not, you could owe hundreds or thousands of dollars in fees when you’re preparing to move out.

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