Each year sophomores and upperclassmen must decide where they will call home the following year. Will they choose to stay on campus? Or will they venture off to their own apartments? Is one better than the other?
Let’s start with cost. According to various off-campus students, rent, on average, costs around $600 plus utilities.
Utilities provided and cost depend on the location, the landlord being rented from, and of course, the apartment or house.
The better the location, the higher the price will be. Students find their electric bills to be averaging about $10 a person and internet and cable bundles average about $80 a month.
Heat varies depending on if it is electric or not. Oil tends to be more expensive, but it is a fixed rate, whereas the cost of electric depends on how much tenants use.
The best thing to do is plenty of research to find the best deal that fits financial needs.
Don’t forget about groceries or, if desired, a meal plan as well.
There are other costs to consider too, such as cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and furnishings.
When averaging the housing rates for the school together and dividing them by the seven months students live at school not including breaks, the monthly cost would be about $1,000, excluding the meal plan, which averages at about $340 monthly.
This makes off-campus housing more economically sound, since it is a longer rental period and without having to leave for breaks.
The difference is whether or not it is better to pay the costs up front, or to budget all income and pay monthly.
Some landlords do offer students the option to pay the year’s rent all at once.
“The hardest thing is you have to save your money. On campus everything is paid up front,” Lucas Mathews, a senior, said.
Chris Lockett said the hardest thing is catching up on rent when he gets backed up and finding a job to pay the rent, but he said at least, “I can do what I want.”
What else do upperclassmen have to say on the matter?
Dom Gamble, a junior, chose to continue living on campus and said, “The only downside is still being under Keene’s rules, but it’s worth it because everything is so convenient.” Convenience is another good point. Living off campus either requires walking farther distances or paying for the gas to drive there. If driving, students would need to buy a parking pass or get quarters for the meters and hope there is a spot.
But what other upsides are there to renting off campus?
“Obviously the freedom. You don’t have to swipe a card to get in every time,” Mathews noted.
“It gets you ready for the real world,” Lockett said.
On-campus housing provides more of a community atmosphere because rooms are close together and hundreds of students live in one building.
Also, since there are events, activities and meetings put on by the dorm, there is more opportunity for interaction among students.
But Mathews said, “It [off campus] is a little more spread out, but we still see each other, just not 24/7.”
Ellen Lonsdale, a junior, said, “I like having a place that’s less communal and more independent. I don’t have a meal plan, so you need to learn to take on more responsibilities.” If feeling caught in the middle, a new apartment building opened up which offers the community feel of a dormitory while still getting the off -campus experience.
Arcadia Apartments are located on Emerald Street, right near Davis Street, and opened up this year because according to the property manager, Heather Trombly, “Keene State College told us there was a need for not only more off-campus housing but better off-campus housing.” Trombly continued and said, “The students really need a place that they can go that’s safe and secure and new, something fresh.”
She also said, “It’s nice because it feels like a dorm, but there’s no RAs. It’s a good transitional period from sophomore to junior year.”
Safety is another shared advantage in these apartments.
Trombly stated, “Everything is very secure: you use a card to get into the building; everything is on a computer system so that’s how you access it; and you also have separate keys for each bedroom; and there’s security cameras, which we will be getting for the outside as well, so the building will be completely secure. You don’t have anyone who has a weird background check or any criminal offenses.”
Rent costs about $800 a month with all utilities, including internet and cable. Another plus is the apartments come furnished, television and all.
Specials are sometimes run on the rent price.
“I am telling students that if they sign now for next year you’ll pay the $600,” Trombly shared. This rent special is being run until January 2013. The building holds 37 apartments with 138 bedrooms and is currently 40 percent occupied.
The best advice to give students trying to make a decision is to shop around and start early.
“Don’t feel like you have to find a place right away,” Lonsdale said. Mathews added, “You don’t want to settle for a place.”
Trombly stated that, “A lot of students go out and I don’t think that they do enough research to find out what’s really going to work for them. You have to look at all sides of it, what is the landlord offering you, what condition are the apartments in, you really have to make sure you getting the bang for your buck.”
Make sure the apartment and the landlord is the right choice, so there are no regrets.
Students should feel they can count on their landlords and that the year will run smoothly. “We had a student that had an issue with a pipe; he called me at 11:30 [p.m.] and he were here until 2 a.m. I stayed with him the whole time and made sure that everything got done. I feel like as a landlord and a property manager to have your presence there for the students is comforting to them to know that you really are serious about making sure that they’re happy,” Trombly explained.
Mathews had an experience and explained, “I locked my keys in my apartment on a Sunday and called my maintenance man and he came and let me in that day, which I thought was really nice. He left a barbeque and everything.”
Be sure to consider all of the aspects off-campus housing comes with and, if it is the right choice, begin the search for the perfect place to call home.
Regan Driscoll can be contacted at