Washington State University

Housing and Residence Life

Living Off Campus

Assessing Off-Campus Costs

To help students to accurately assess the cost of living off campus, Housing Services commissioned WSU's Social and Economic Sciences Research Center to do a survey. During 2006 a total of 178 interviews were completed, giving an accuracy level of ±7 percent. The following data are based on the mean responses.

How much is your portion of the rent?
$362 per month.

Rents ranged from $75 to $800 per month.  Variability depended on the number of roommates (3 was average), quality of apartment, location, private bedroom, furnishings, and other factors.  The average cost for people living alone was $469; the average cost for those with roommates was $340.

How many months are included in your lease?
Leases ranged from 9 to 12 months, with 2.1% reporting a 9-month lease, 4.2% a 10-month lease, and 82.6% a 12-month lease.

How much was your damage deposit?

The range was $50 to $1875.

How much do you pay per month for utilities, including water, power, sewer, heat, and garbage?
$34 per month.

8.5% paid no utilities.  For the remaining 91.5% costs per roommate ranged from $10 to $150 per month.

How much is your portion of the landline phone charges?
$4 per month.

88.5% of the residents living off-campus did not have a landline.

What is your portion of the Internet connection fee?
$17 per month.

What is your portion of the cable TV bill?
$16 per month.

This data reflects the cost of basic cable, excluding pay movie channels. The cost of cable TV increases with the number of movie channels purchased.

How much do you spend on food to cook at home?
$128 per month.

The range of answers for the cost of groceries varied from $10 to $600 per month.

How much do you spend on food cooked outside your home, including pizza delivery?
$56 per month.

The cost ranged from $0 to $400 per month.  Students eat out an average of 3 times per week; students eat 1 of those meals on campus each week.

Students eating 12 times per month outside the home would need to average no more than $4.67 per meal to spend only $56 per month.

How much do you need to get started living off campus?

89% respondents paid a damage deposit upon moving in. Many were also required to pay first and last month's rent. The average required to get started living off-campus usually includes a deposit and first and last month's rent, which according to the internal survey results would require $1057.

Damage deposit      $333
First month's rent    $362
Last month's rent    $362

What is your total housing and food cost for the academic year?
Averaging answers from the above survey answers indicate costs of $7404 for students with a 12-month lease; $5553 with a 9-month lease. The 10-month reported average for respondents living alone was $7240; the average for those with roommates was $5950.

When asked for a perceived total cost to live off-campus students report that their annual cost to live off-campus is between $2583 and $5970 (depending on the number of months required in the lease). Students underestimate their cost to live off-campus by 25-50%.

Don't Go!

Take a look at this additional information and find out why it's better to stay.

Freshman Live-In Rule

Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life

Housing Services, PO Box 641726, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-1726, 509.335.7732 | Contact Us