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Base Rental Rate vs. Total Monthly Cost for a Student Apartment in Gainesville

By Nicole

As a college student myself, I know how confusing it can be to navigate the student housing process, especially when it comes to cost. Figuring out exactly how much you’ll pay each month can be stressful and oftentimes unclear.

Read Next: How Much Does it Cost for Students to Live Near UF?

At Sweetwater, we’ve helped hundreds of students find their home and understand how confusing the leasing process can be. When looking at the cost of student housing, what you see quoted as your base rate is not necessarily what you will be charged each month.

We don’t want this to take you by surprise when you’re budgeting. That’s why we’re explaining the difference between the base rate and the total monthly rate, so you don’t have to worry about any surprises when your bill comes each month.

roommates uf

Base Rate vs. Total Monthly Cost in Gainesville Student Housing

What is Base Rate?

Base rate is a rental amount determined from a variety of factors and differs for each floor plan. It’s first quoted based on the property and everything it includes, such as the amenities, location, maintenance, building age, etc.

How is Base Rate Calculated?

Base rate is typically calculated two different ways depending on the type of housing you chose: a traditional lease or an individual lease.

For traditional houses or apartments, the base rental rate is calculated for the house or apartment as a whole. You and your roommates will sign one contract with your landlord, holding you all equally liable for paying rent each month for the entirety of your lease. It will be up to you and your roommates to decide how to split up the rental rate.

For student housing, you will sign an individual or a “by-the-bed” lease. This will hold you individually responsible for only your portion of the rent, that is, your room (or bed), plus the use of communal spaces. The base rate listed online is the amount of rent you will personally be responsible for before any added fees.

Read Next: Student Apartments vs. Traditional Apartments: Which is Right for Me?

Each floor plan type has a base rate that typically differs based on the number of roommates and bathrooms in the unit. In a by-the-bed apartment, each bed or bedroom will have its own base rate. The following features typically result in a higher base rate:

  • Furnished apartment
  • Higher floor of the property / premium views
  • Balcony
  • Extra windows
  • Ensuite bathrooms
  • Walk-in closets
  • Washer and dryer in the unit
  • Fewer bedrooms per unit (studios, 1x1s, etc.)

On the other hand, these factors typically result in a lower base rate:

  • Double occupancy (shared bedrooms)
  • Shared bathrooms
  • More bedrooms per unit (5×5, 6×6, etc.)

Read Next: 8 Ways to Save Money on Student Housing in Gainesville

Some properties may include other factors into their base rate as well aside from those previously listed. For example, at Sweetwater we include cable, high-speed WiFi, and a wall-mounted smart TV in every unit in addition to furniture and washer/dryers.

kitchen in sweetwater's model unit

Representative image of kitchen areas at Sweetwater, featuring tile backsplash, stainless steel appliances and quartz countertops.

What is Total Monthly Cost?

Total monthly cost is the amount that you will actually be billed for each month, equal to base rent plus any additional costs. Some of these factors are required, such as utilities and renter’s insurance. Others are based on each resident’s lifestyle needs, such as parking or pet rent.

Other monthly cost factors may include:

  • Utilities
  • Rental Insurance
  • Trash
  • Parking
  • WiFi
  • Cable TV
  • Pet Rent
  • Technology Packages

Remember, some apartments will include some of these add ons in their base rent, while others do not.

So, just because a property lists a lower initial base rate doesn’t mean it will be the most cost-effective option overall. It’s important to consider not only the base rate, but the other additional monthly costs in order to calculate a more accurate total monthly cost. This will give you a true apples-to-apples comparison of your monthly housing expenses across different properties.

We hope this article helped you get a better idea of how to calculate and budget for total monthly costs at student housing properties. If you have any more questions about rates, feel free to contact our leasing staff. Our team is more than happy to answer any of your questions.


Nicole is the Community Manager at Sweetwater. She has worked in Property Management for 10 years. She have two little boys and a little girl on the way!

February 01, 2023

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