Living off-campus when attending UCF is a great way to make the most out of your newfound freedom in college. When you live off-campus, you get to set your own hours and you have unfettered access to everything Orlando has to offer!

Depending on your off-campus accommodations, you could even save money. However, there is a fairly important thing to keep in mind, and that’s the unexpected costs that may crop up when you live off-campus. What are these unexpected costs? Here’s a short list of some of the “hidden” costs of living off-campus when attending UCF:

1) Gas/Transportation

When you live off-campus, you have to have some way to get to and from where you live to the college campus so you can attend class. Whether you drive a car/motorcycle or ride a bus to campus, that means spending money.

For students with cars, gas is a variable monthly expense—the ever-changing price of fuel means you can never be sure of exactly how much you’ll be spending. Plus, if you want to park on-campus you will have to purchase a parking decal, which can get pricey. On the other hand, using a car gives you the freedom to come and go as you please and will probably be helpful when you get a job.

Meanwhile, taking a bus requires not only money, but a nearby bus stop that has buses going to the campus at regular intervals. Sometimes, the bus schedule won’t neatly match your class schedule.

Thankfully, UCF has partnered with some off-campus apartment complexes to provide a free shuttle.

2) Utilities

If you’re like many other college freshmen, you probably haven’t had to pay for your own housing costs before—your parents might have charged you rent, but you’ve likely never had to account for heat, electricity, gas, sewer/waste management, cable, internet and so on as individual bills. For many young college freshmen, the individual expenses for utilities can be a surprise. Also, keeping track of which bills have been paid, the amounts for each bill and all the due dates can be a bit overwhelming.

That many of these bills are on top of the rent rather than a part of it can be a surprise to some first-time housing shoppers, and it can all add up really quickly.

Note that this isn’t always the case for off-campus apartments, though. Some apartment complexes include utilities in the bill for the rent and keep these costs to a flat, predictable amount.

3) Renters’ Insurance/Security Deposits

Many apartment complexes may require their tenants to acquire renters’ insurance or make a sizeable security deposit prior to moving in. The major reason for this is to make sure that the apartment complex’s owners can cover the costs of any repairs they may need to make after the tenant moves out.

Things like cleaning/replacing carpets, fixing wall damage and other repairs take a significant amount of money, and the apartment owner usually can’t rent out the unit again until the damage is taken care of.

Now, on-campus dorms also have some of these fees, but it’s still worth mentioning here since the cost may be different from what an on-campus dorm might charge.

4) Furniture

When you take a tour of an apartment complex’s “model” unit, you often get presented with a demonstration that shows off what your apartment could look like with the perfect furniture. However, apartments don’t always come pre-furnished with desks, chairs, TV stands or even beds.

This can vary wildly from one apartment building to the next, so be sure to ask the landlord what furnishings the apartment comes with before signing a lease. Some places might only have bedding, while others will provide a fully-furnished room with everything you need.

5) Laundry

You can’t wear the exact same clothes every day without washing them, so you’re going to need access to a washing machine.

When you want to look (and smell) your best, you’re going to need fresh, clean clothes, which means taking your dirty clothes to the laundry. However, laundry isn’t always free in an apartment building. Some apartments may charge for laundry access, and others might not have laundry facilities at all, forcing you to go to a local coin-op laundromat.

Plus, you also have to buy laundry detergent to make sure your clothes actually get clean (which is true on-campus too).

Living off-campus can be a wonderful experience for any student—just be sure you’re prepared for some of the hidden costs of an off-campus apartment. You can do this by either budgeting for these costs ahead of time, or finding an apartment complex that eliminates them or includes them in the rental costs!



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Tagged: Student Housing, Life at UCF