If you’re a student at UF, you probably understand the benefits of living near campus. Many students spend a lot of time on campus, from attending club meetings to going to the library to cram for an exam, but the price tag that comes with living near campus can be over budget for some students.
While student housing apartments near campus can fall on the higher end of the price range, there are still ways for students to save money and cut down on the cost of rent.
At Sweetwater, we recognize the stress that finding affordable housing can have on students. For this reason, we’ve created a list of 8 ways students can save money on housing in Gainesville.
8 Ways to Save Money on Student Housing Apartments near the UF Campus
1. Bigger Floor Plans
The size of the space that you live in greatly impacts the cost of that space. Additionally, the more people that live in one unit usually decreases the monthly cost of the space per person.
For example, a 4×4 (four bedrooms, four bathrooms) tends to cost a couple hundred dollars less per month, per person, than a 2×2. This is because there is usually less square footage per person.
Another way floor plans change the cost of rent is choosing the smallest square footage of your desired floor plan. For example, if you’ve already chosen the complex that you want to live at and you want to find a 4×4, there may be multiple 4×4 options, each of slightly different square footage. The layout with the least square footage will probably be the cheapest.
2. Shared Bedrooms
Shared bedrooms, also known as dual occupancy rooms, are rooms that are shared by more than one tenant. Usually, at student housing apartments, this is different from a normal shared room as seen in dorms because the rooms tend to have half walls or thin walls that partially separate the space.
Shared bedrooms greatly decrease the monthly cost of rent, usually by hundreds of dollars.
3. Shared Bathrooms
Another way to save money on monthly rent is agreeing to share a bathroom with one or more of your roommates. Floor plans like 3x2s and 4x2s, where there’s an uneven amount of bedrooms to bathrooms, indicates that some roommates will share bathrooms.
4. Sign Your Lease Early
In Gainesville, one of the best ways to secure a lower price on monthly rent and guarantee parking (if you’re interested) without compromising on space or amenities is to sign a lease early.
Most student housing apartments near campus begin leasing about 10 months before the move-in date, which means students usually start their housing search in August or September. For more information about the housing search timeline, read our article on when you should start looking for housing in Gainesville.
For the most popular apartments at UF, students will typically sign a lease by October.
Due to the tier system used by student housing apartments, rates will be raised by approximately $10 to $20 per month, per person, after a certain number of leases are signed.
So, if you’re looking to get the best deals at newer, nicer student housing apartment complexes, try to sign your lease as early as you can to get ahead of the tier system.
Read Next: How much does it cost to live near UF?
5. Find Rental Rates that Include Extras
What’s included in the rate of monthly rent varies depending on the complex. Some apartments include utilities while others don’t; some include a trash service while others don’t. Read our article about what’s typically included in rent for more information!
To get the most value for your money, look for rates with extras included in the rental rate rather than extras that are offered at an additional cost. Some common extras are WiFi or technology packages, but could also be bigger things like balconies or pool tables.
Make sure you ask the leasing staff at the apartments you are most interested about how different units compare. This will also help to ensure your expectations are met before you sign a lease.
6. Limiting Additional Costs
Before we get into how you can limit additional costs, here’s a list of some common additional costs:
- Application/admin fees
- Rental insurance
- Trash fees
- Moving costs
- Parking fees
- Pet fees
- Late fees
To save money on additional costs, I would recommend not bringing a car if you live at an apartment complex that is close to campus so you can walk to class, club meetings, etc. You also may consider waiting to get your own furry friend until college is over. Most units are pet friendly, but they charge a pet deposit. Many apartments also charge a monthly pet fee on top of the deposit.
Make sure you make all of your payments on time. This will avoid any late fees that may be charged to your account for a delayed payment. One helpful way to ensure you pay on time is setting up an automatic payment, which is offered at most student housing apartments.
7. Opt for a Less Popular Unit
While everyone would love to have a beautiful view of the UF campus at sunset with the largest, wrap-around balcony, these are usually the most expensive and most popular units. One of the best ways to save some money is to choose a unit that is not as popular. To avoid picking the most popular units, look for units that are on a lower level with a less desirable view. On lower levels, units are often less in-demand because the views are usually of other buildings or a courtyard, rather than of the campus.
No matter what floor you live on, not all units have amazing views. So, if you prefer to live on a higher level, consider choosing a floor plan with less popular views – it should save you a considerable amount of money each month.
8. Minimize Furniture Costs
This final recommendation on ways to save money on housing is greatly dependent on where you choose to live. Traditional houses and apartments tend to come unfurnished, while student housing apartments and Greek houses tend to come mostly furnished.
If you choose to live at a student housing apartment, the furniture that typically comes with the unit includes bedroom and common area basics, including:
- Dresser or Shelves
- Desk and Desk Chair
- Coffee Table
- Chairs and/or Bar Stools
- Washer and Dryer
This is a great start to furnishing your unit, but most students end up buying more furniture. These are typically smaller items like bar carts and standing lamps to complete the unit. While this is nice and makes the unit more full, it can come at a steep price tag if you are not cautious.
Another benefit to choosing an apartment that comes fully furnished is you avoid the process of selecting, purchasing and moving in furniture. So, if you choose to study abroad or take an internship outside of Gainesville for the summer, you likely won’t need a storage unit to store your furniture.
If you decide that you prefer to furnish your own apartment, there are ways for students to cut down on furniture costs. The most common way students at UF look for discounted furniture is searching on Facebook Marketplace (to look for furniture, search “home goods” in the Gainesville area). You can also look at discount furniture stores, consignment shops, or yard sales to get the most bang for your buck. And, when it’s time to move out, you can sell your consignment furniture on Facebook Marketplace or a yard sale to make some of the money back.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to save on student housing apartments in Gainesville. Before you rule out living near campus, be sure to consider your options and how you can save money on those options so you can take advantage of the best student housing near UF.
If you are interested in living near campus or learning about different student housing properties, please contact our leasing team who are happy to help answer any questions you may have on your student housing journey.