There are costs associated with off-campus living that you wouldn’t normally find when living on-campus. How much money do you actually need when you find your dream apartment and sign a lease?

First/Last Month's Rent

Most apartments for rent require both first month’s rent and last month’s rent when you sign the lease. Make sure you have four months' rent up front when you sign the lease. This includes first and last month’s rent, a security deposit and a renter’s fee (if applicable).

Realtor Fee

Keep in mind that when you work with a realtor they will most likely charge a fee which can equal up to a month’s full rent. Fees are divided into three categories: full fee, half fee and no fee.

  • Full fee means that the renter pays the entire fee, equal to one month’s rent.
  • Half fee means that the full fee is split between the landlord and the renter.
  • No fee means that the landlord pays the realtor or the realtor owns the building.

It is illegal for a landlord to charge any other up-front fees, including:

  • A deposit to hold the apartment for a prospective tenant. 
  • A damage deposit or fee to allow a tenant to have a pet.
  • A finder's fee for renting an apartment that the landlord owns, unless he is a licensed realtor.

Settling-In Costs

There are quite a number of things that you’ll need in your new apartment. They might be small, but their costs can add up. It’s important to create a budget for yourself so that you are living within your means. Transportation costs, utilities and food are just a few things to think about when you are creating a budget. Keep in mind that the number of roommates you have affects how many ways you will split the cost of utilities.

Is Living Off-Campus Cheaper Than Living On-Campus?

One of the main differences concerning the cost of on-campus vs. off-campus is the duration of the living term. Students living on-campus are only able to live in the residence halls for the academic year, whereas off-campus and commuter students sign leases for 12 months. You can also seek advice from Emerson’s Money Matters program. Money Matters is Emerson's financial education program for current students and alumni. Covering personal finance topics like budgeting, debt management, credit, and identity theft, the goal of the program is to help students become more financially literate so that they can make informed judgments and effective decisions about their money.