By Jonathan Kleppinger
Apartment for rent to college student. Two bedrooms, one bath, full kitchen, living room. Walking distance from campus. Nine hundred square feet. With utilities and one roommate, $300/month.Sound like a good deal? Try this one.
Apartment for rent to college student. One bedroom, one (communal) bath. Utilities included. Conveniently located on campus. Two hundred square feet. $650/month.
Excited about that? Wait, there’s more.
You can only rent it from August to May.
You’re not allowed inside for four days at Thanksgiving, three weeks at Christmas, and one week in March.
You can have visitors only from noon until midnight during the week, and you have to stay with your guests at all times, even when they go to the bathroom.
You will be provided a 2.0-cubic foot refrigerator; if you want to bring another, you’ll be charged $10. Don’t bother bringing alcohol for either fridge; it’s not allowed for anyone of any age-not even an empty bottle.
Your air conditioning will keep running through November and the heat will leave you sweating in April.
No pets, pop-up toasters, or George Foreman grills.
If you live in an EKU dorm, this should sound familiar, because it’s all in the contract you’ve already signed. If you’re unlucky enough to be a freshman from out-of-town, signing that contract isn’t a choice. You’re required to have a dorm room. And in any case, you’re definitely not getting your money’s worth.
The cheapest room is more expensive than an apartment, and the price of a single-occupancy room in Clay Hall is only $300 less than in-state tuition per semester. The checking-in and checking-out of visitation reminds me of the daycare at my church. And you have to pay a fee just to have a fridge that can hold more than your leftovers from Taco Bell.
I lived in the dorms for free for three semesters. I moved out of the dorms last fall. I found it more worthwhile to pay around $300 a month for an apartment within walking distance of campus than to pay nothing for my dorm room.
The small things have huge effects. I can have friends or family over any time I want. I don’t have someone staring at me every time I come home, making sure I really live there. I can walk into another room if I feel like it. I always park within 30 feet of the door, and I never have to worry about moving my car.
Consider the alternatives to dorm costs.
If you’re currently paying for a private room and move into an apartment near campus, the money you save in one school year could buy you any of the following:
Two foot-long sandwiches from Subway every day
An iPhone 3G for you, your mom, your dog, and nine other friends
Twenty-five hundred cups of ramen noodles
A second apartment
You never know when you’ll need a second apartment.
Just the lifestyle change was enough to make me move out of the dorms, and I have a housing scholarship. So I don’t understand why so many people give up an extra two thousand dollars and their George Foreman grill to live like a 3-year-old in daycare.