Mark Roemer image of two young women moving into a new place.

How Much Rent Can a College Student Really Afford?

Now that you have finished High School, it is time to get ready for life in college. While most landlords will not rent to freshmen, you will at some point want to move out of the dorms. There are a number of reasons that you will want to do this. The main reason that most college students cite is that they want to have a little more freedom. While you are living in the dorms, it really feels like you are just sleeping over at a friend’s house. There are still things you are not allowed to do. I, Mark Romer am going to share these things with you.

Moving out of the dorms can prove to be a smart move by many people. You will not only have the freedom of coming and going as you please, but you will also have a quiet place to study when you decide to do that. In the dorms, you don’t have the ability to control your neighbors. You have little control on the outside, but at least there is something that can be done if they are up late at night and making a lot of noise. You will also have control of who is coming and going in your own place. In the dorms, you may have a roommate that likes to have people over a lot. That does not lend itself to an environment that you will be able to study.

The last thing to consider before stepping out on your own is how much you can actually afford. I am going to help you walk through the steps to find this dollar amount. Below, you will find a list of bills that you are going to need to consider before taking the next step in your adulthood.


The very first thing that you need to consider when deciding if you want to leave the dorms is how much money you are bringing in. This may sound like a no-brainer, but it is often not thought about. Anyone that is going to school full-time basically has a full-time job already. That means that at most, you are going to be adding a part-time job if you decided to work at the same time. You don’t want to load up on too many hours working or your grades will suffer. This could be the difference between getting a good job in the future or dropping out.

For our purposes here, I am going to assume that you do have a part-time job and are bringing in approximately $2,000 a month. With these wages, you should not consider a house that is more than $600 a month in rent. This is roughly 30% of your monthly income. That is a nice figure that will suit you later in life as well. If you are paying too much in rent, it will leave you little money for other things that you will want to do in life.


Up to this point in your life, you have given very little thought to the utility bills. You walk over to the light switch and it comes on. You walk up to the sink and get a glass of water. You switch on the television and watch your favorite show. You take the trash to the street and when you come home it is gone. Well, these are all bills that were paid by someone in your life. Let’s take a look at how much some of these bills will cost you.

To have clean water to cook with, shower with, and drink, you are going to need to pay the water bill. This usually averages to about $40 a month. It is one of the bills that you cannot skimp on. The next bill to consider is the electric bill. It is hard to find anything in life that is worth doing that does not involve some sort of electrical source. Without electricity, you are not going to be able to run your computer, charge your smartphone, or study when you have that big test tomorrow. This is another bill that is simply a must-have. It will run you about $65 per month. Another bill that you are going to have to consider is the Cable/Internet bill. This will allow you to not only surf the web while you are at home, but it will also allow you to find something to watch on TV when you are not studying. Arguably, you could omit this $100 bill while you are in college. Most colleges have WiFi and you can download things to watch while you are there. Additionally, you can do all of your work at school. This would save you some money, but I think you would be better off having these things at home.

Help from Friends

While those are the bills you have to consider, you have not considered the fact that the average rent in the US is over $1,300. This means that you are going to need to get at least one friend to move in with you. This will reduce the amount of rent that you each have to pay. Additionally, you will pay less on the utility bills if you are splitting it. Just make sure that the friend you select is well aware that they are going to need to pay their share of the bills. Some people invite a friend to move in with them only to have the relationship go sour after the friend thinks they were being allowed to live there for free.


I certainly hope this blog has been helpful to you. Finding a place of your own will do a lot of good in progressing yourself into adulthood. It will teach you to manage and budget money. If you try it and it does not work, just go back to the drawing board. Look at the numbers and the places you fell short and try it again. No one is perfect at anything the first time. Just make sure you learned something from the experience so that you will not make the same mistake twice.