Worst places to rent

Your Choice of College May Come Down to Location

Want to go to Stanford? You’ll be paying more to live near the California campus than to actually attend school there.

Zillow says the best colleges are in cities with some of the most expensive off-campus housing in the country. Students attending Stanford will pay five times the national average for rent, or more than $61,000 for a school year. Tuition at Stanford is about $45,000 a year.

At Princeton, ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the best school in the country, tuition and off-campus housing costs for a school year are virtually the same.

“Looking at both on-and off-campus housing prices, and thinking through whether they’ll likely live with roommates or alone will help them gauge an accurate picture of the student loans and financial aid they will need in order to obtain their degree,” says Jeremy Wacksman, Zillow chief marketing officer.

But if you’re planning on living off-campus for at least some of your college years, there are some more affordable options close to great schools.

At the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. you’ll be paying an average of $723 a month, or just over $7,000 a school year — a fraction of the $50,000 a year tuition costs. At Washington University in St. Louis, you’ll be paying nearly $9,000 a year to live off campus. And at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, you’ll spend $11,000 a year to rent nearby. These are some of the best universities around the country with the cheapest off-campus housing.

Is off-campus really cheaper?

If you’re torn between living on-campus or off, compare the costs of both. If your heart is set on Princeton, room and board will cost you almost $15,000 on top of tuition, but that’s still a lot cheaper than the $45,000 you’d be paying to stay around town instead.

Meanwhile for great schools in less expensive areas, you may get your money’s worth by staying off campus. Room and board at the University of Notre Dame is more than $14,000 a year — double the costs of living near the school instead of on it. At Washington University, room and board is almost $16,000 while living off campus is $9,000.

Rent is climbing everywhere, even where it’s cheap

Zillow says rents are appreciating in most of the areas that the best schools are in, especially on the West Coast.

“Student renters in the Bay Area or the greater Los Angeles region can expect to see the highest annual rental appreciation, which is anticipated to grow by more than 6 percent over the coming year,” the report says.

And it’s true: In San Francisco, we reported you need to make more than $200,000 a year to afford a two-bedroom apartment. Doesn’t sound promising to broke college students looking to afford a lifetime of student loan debt.

Rents are rising even among the most inexpensive apartments, as more people are moving to rent instead of own. Even if students expect their parents to pay for whatever college they want, they should look around to see the cost of everything, including off-campus costs.

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