How much does it cost to rent near the top 100 US universities?
Apartments in Manhattan, the city where Columbia University is located at, have rent as high as more than US$4,000. Source: Shutterstock

Rent takes up a huge part of college student budgets. In addition to tuition, books and food, many wouldn’t be left with much after all expenses are paid. This partly explains why many students take on a part-time job, sometimes even more, as well as why almost two million students don’t have access to nutritious, affordable food.

But a new analysis on the least and most affordable places to stay near the top 100 US universities should be useful for those planning to start college soon.

Nationwide apartment search website RENTCafe used Yardi Matrix rent data to analyse how much apartments located within one-mile of the top 100 universities in the US, as ranked by US News, cost. The price is based on the average monthly rent in apartments located within one to two miles of the main campus address, as listed on the US News website. This is then compared to the average rent for apartments in the whole city where the university’s main campus address is located.

“As expected, the prices vary in both directions, and it’s not just universities that have an impact on the cost of rent in nearby apartments, but also the campus location and the desirability of the neighborhood it calls home,” said the report.

The university with the most affordable rent prices within one mile of the main campus is the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Illinois (ranked 46th by US News). At US$890, this makes it US$506 cheaper than the average rent at nearby Champaign and an attractive choice for those looking to rent near campus.

The College of William and Mary is located at Williamsburg, a historical city with a lively student population. Source: Shutterstock

Virginia’s College of William and Mary, Pennsylvania’s Lehigh University, Illinois’s Loyola University and New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute make up the rest of the top five universities with the most affordable rent rates nearby. They range between US$935 to US$1,115.

What about the housing landscape near the highest-ranking US universities?

In this category, Duke University has the cheapest rent prices within a one-mile radius (US$$1,240), followed by the University of Chicago with US$1,249. These figures are close to half of what those attending Princeton University, ranked first in the country, are paying to rent within one mile (US$2,409) or in the city (US$2,297). However, housing near New York’s Columbia University (ranked third) charge the most exorbitant rent – the average rent within one mile is US$4,217, while the average city rent in Manhattan is US$4,132.

Near campus vs city living

Some of the main perks of living close to campus include proximity to classes, lecturers and friends – think of all the time you’ll save not having to commute and waking up early to do so! But city living also has its charms. International students, for example, can truly experience what it’s like to live in a foreign country; a whole new lesson a university module could never teach.

Several factors dictate the costs of living in these two locations. “Differences in the cost of rent near a university compared to the rest of its host city is often dictated the quality of the neighborhood where the campus is located. You’re likely to see higher prices if the university campus is in a downtown area or a premium location, like the waterfront, or lower prices if the campus is in a further off, low-profile neighborhood,” said the report.

The price difference between rent within one mile of New York’s Yeshiva University (US$$2,225) and rent in Manhattan (US$4,132) is the biggest. It is 46.15 percent cheaper to stay near Yeshiva over Manhattan – total savings amount up to US$1,907.

For more information, use RENTCafe’s interactive table below to filter by university rank, average rent price within one and two miles, or average city rent, and narrow down your search:

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