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Going Away to College? Here’s How Much It Costs to Rent Near the Top 100 Universities

apartments for college students

Finding the best apartments for college students can be challenging — for first-years and undergrads alike. If there aren’t any on-campus housing options, or they simply want to live independently, searching for an apartment off-campus is a good starting point. For most, proximity to campus is without a doubt a deciding factor in choosing the place to spend the next academic year. But does that proximity affect the cost of rent for college students? 

To help students budget housing expenses, we did the homework by analyzing the price of apartments located within a 1-mile radius of the top 100 universities in the U.S. as ranked by U.S. News. Using Yardi Matrix rent data, we compared the average rent near the university campus to the average rent in the city where the school 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.

Universities with the Most Affordable Apartments for College Students

These are the universities with the most affordable rent prices within 1 mile of their main campus:

1. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, IL

  • Average rent within 1 mile: $890
  • Average city rent (Champaign): $1,396
  • Price difference compared to city average: -$506
  • U.S. News rank: 46

Urbana-Champaign apartments for college students

In Champaign — where the University of Illinois dominates a big part of the city life — the average rent in apartment buildings located in a 1-mile radius around the university is $890, the lowest rent price in proximity to a top U.S. university. Renting closer to the college area is an attractive option, given that these perfect apartments for college students are $506 cheaper than the city average.

2. College of William and Mary, VA

  • Average rent within 1 mile: $934
  • Average city rent (Williamsburg): $1,191
  • Price difference compared to city average: -$257
  • U.S. News rank: 38

College of William and Mary

An average rent of $934 per month for an apartment near the esteemed institution of College of William and Mary is the second most affordable within a mile of a top-rated university. It doesn’t hurt that the beautiful, historical city of Williamsburg is popular, particularily among millennials, not just for its sensible rent prices, but also for its lively spirit brought about by the large student population.

3. Lehigh University, PA

  • Average rent within 1 mile: $1,082  
  • Average city rent (Bethlehem): $1,234
  • Price difference compared to city average: -$152
  • U.S. News rank: 53

Lehigh University

Small town prices seem to pay off again in Bethlehem, PA for those students living off-campus. At $1,082 per month, renting near Lehigh University is $152 more affordable than the average rent in Christmas City itself. Founded in 1865, Lehigh University lands the 53rd spot on U.S. News’ list of best-ranked colleges in the United States.

4. Loyola University Chicago, IL

  • Average rent within 1 mile: $1,110
  • Average city rent (Chicago): $1,898
  • Price difference compared to city average: -$788
  • U.S. News rank: 89

For universities in large cities, rent prices nearby are heavily influenced by the specific location of the campus. In the case of Loyola University Chicago, the $1,110 average rent within 1 mile of its main Lake Shore campus has a lot to do with the location further from downtown, in the more affordable lakeside neighborhood of Rogers Park, on the North Side of Chicago.

5. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, NY

  • Average rent within 1 mile: $1,115
  • Average city rent (Troy): $1,110
  • Price difference compared to city average: $5
  • U.S. News rank: 49

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute college students rent

If the Hudson River view doesn’t do it for you, the reasonable cost of rent near Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY is yet another good reason for students to choose the oldest technological school in the country.

6. Wake Forest University, NC

  • Average rent within 1 mile: $1,136
  • Average city rent (Winston-Salem): $851
  • Price difference compared to city average: $285
  • U.S. News rank: 27

Renting one mile away from Wake Forest University is $1,136 on average. Incidentally, the city of Winston-Salem, NC has the most affordable average rent on the list: $851 per month.

7.  Illinois Institute of Technology, IL

  • Average rent within 1 mile: $1,185
  • Average city rent (Chicago): $1,898
  • Price difference compared to city average: -$713
  • U.S. News rank: 96

illinois institute of technology apartments

Located on the lower-priced South Side of Chicago, the average rent within 1 mile of the IIT main campus is $1,185, with the added bonus of having a straight shot to beautiful lakefront parks and being close to the lively Chinatown.

8. University of Florida, FL

  • Average rent within 1 mile: $1,199
  • Average city rent (Gainesville): $1,243
  • Price difference compared to city average: -$44
  • U.S. News rank: 35

Add a high U.S. News rank to a lively campus life, warm Florida weather, and a monthly rent near campus $44 below the Gainesville average, and it’s obvious why the home of the Gators is such an attractive choice of higher education.

9. Worcester Polytechnic Institute, MA

  • Average rent within 1 mile: $1,231
  • Average city rent (Worcester): $1,330
  • Price difference compared to city average: -$99
  • U.S. News rank: 59

WPI’s project-based learning approach is not the only exciting thing about this top engineering school. Budget-friendly rents are another attractive feature for its prospective students since apartments near the institute rent for $1,231 per month on average — $99 less than the $1,330 Worcester, MA average.

10. Duke University, NC

  • Average rent within 1 mile: $1,240
  • Average city rent (Durham): $1,136
  • Price difference compared to city average: $104
  • U.S. News rank: 8

duke university

The majority of Duke undergrads live on campus as per university requirement. Yet, for those who don’t, rent prices near the prestigious college are around $1,240, which is $104 more than the city average.

 

Curious how your university fares compared to others? 

Click here to find rents near 100 universities

Ideal Apartments for College Students near the 10 Best-Ranking Universities 

When it comes to colleges that meet the best educational criteria, the U.S. has a good share of the crème of the crop. But some high-ranking universities can also be appealing from a different standpoint: the cost of housing. Among the top 10 best-ranking U.S. universities, Duke University has the cheapest rent prices within a 1-mile radius, $1,240, followed by the University of Chicago with $1,249.

Here’s the average cost of rent for college students who want to live near the 10 best-ranked universities:  

1. Princeton University, NJ

  • U.S. News rank: 1
  • Average rent within 1 mile: $2,409
  • Average city rent (Princeton): $2,297
  • Price difference compared to city average: $112

princeton university

2. Harvard University, MA

  • U.S. News rank: 2
  • Average rent within 1 mile: $2,780
  • Average city rent (Cambridge): $3,031
  • Price difference compared to city average: -$251

3. Columbia University, NY

  • U.S. News rank: 3
  • Average rent within 1 mile: $4,217
  • Average city rent (Manhattan, NYC): $4,132
  • Price difference compared to city average: $85

columbia university

4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MA

  • U.S. News rank: 3
  • Average rent within 1 mile: $3,286
  • Average city rent (Cambridge): $3,031
  • Price difference compared to city average: $255

5. Yale University, CT

  • U.S. News rank: 3
  • Average rent within 1 mile: $1,794
  • Average city rent (New Haven): $1,670
  • Price difference compared to city average: $124

yale university apartments for college students

6. University of Chicago, IL

  • U.S. News rank: 3
  • Average rent within 1 mile: $1,249
  • Average city rent (Chicago): $1,898
  • Price difference compared to city average: -$649

7. Stanford University, CA

  • U.S. News rank: 7
  • Average rent within 1 mile: $3,958
  • Average city rent (Stanford): $3,970
  • Price difference compared to city average: -$12

stanford university

8. University of Pennsylvania, PA

  • U.S. News rank: 8
  • Average rent within 1 mile: $2,320
  • Average city rent (Philadelphia): $1,583
  • Price difference compared to city average: $737

9. Duke University, NC

  • U.S. News rank: 8
  • Average rent within 1 mile: $1,240
  • Average city rent (Durham): $1,136
  • Price difference compared to city average: $104

10. Northwestern University, IL

  • U.S. News rank: 10
  • Average rent within 1 mile: $2,229
  • Average city rent (Evanston): $1,933
  • Price difference compared to city average: $296

11. Johns Hopkins University, MD

  • U.S. News rank: 10
  • Average rent within 1 mile: $1,444
  • Average city rent (Baltimore): $1,252
  • Price difference compared to city average: $192

john hopkins apartments for college students

Apartments for College Students More Affordable than the Rest of the City

The cost of living can make up a big portion of a student’s total college expenses. Differences in the cost of rent near a university compared to the rest of its host city are often dictated by 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.

Here are the 10 most affordable rents near universities when compared to the average city rent:

1. Yeshiva University, NY

  • Price difference compared to city average: -$1,907
  • Percentage difference compared to city average: -46.15%
  • Average rent within 1 mile: $2,225
  • Average city rent (Manhattan, NYC): $4,132
  • U.S. News rank: 80

2. Boston College, MA

  • Price difference compared to city average: -$966
  • Percentage difference compared to city average: -31.13%
  • Average rent within 1 mile: $2,137
  • Average city rent (Chestnut Hill): $3,103
  • U.S. News rank: 38

3. Loyola University Chicago, IL makes the list again

  • Price difference compared to city average: -$788
  • Percentage difference compared to city average: -41.52%

4. Illinois Institute of Technology, IL makes the list again

  • Price difference compared to city average: -$713
  • Percentage difference compared to city average: -37.57%

5. University of Chicago, IL makes the list again

  • Price difference compared to city average: -$649
  • Percentage difference compared to city average: -34.19%

6. University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), IL makes the list again

  • Price difference compared to city average: -$506
  • Percentage difference compared to city average: -36.25%

7. University of Miami, FL

  • Price difference compared to city average: -$466
  • Percentage difference compared to city average: -18.53%
  • Average rent within 1 mile: $2,049
  • Average city rent (Coral Gables): $2,515
  • U.S. News rank: 53

8. University of Denver, CO

  • Price difference compared to city average: -$377
  • Percentage difference compared to city average: -23.27%
  • Average rent within 1 mile: $1,243
  • Average city rent (Denver): $1,620
  • U.S. News rank: 96

9. University of San Francisco, CA

  • Price difference compared to city average: -$326
  • Percentage difference compared to city average: -9.01%
  • Average rent within 1 mile: $3,292
  • Average city rent (San Francisco): $3,618
  • U.S. News rank: 96

university of san francisco rent for college students

10. College of William and Mary, VA makes the list again

  • Price difference compared to city average: -$257
  • Percentage difference compared to city average: -21.58%

Curious about the costs of these ideal apartments for college students near other universities?

The interactive table below contains the list of 100 universities and rents near campus within a radius extending from 1 to 2 miles. Filter by university rank, average rent price within 1 and 2 miles, or average city rent, and narrow down your search:

Much like college itself, living off-campus can be rewarding despite its challenges. For those who choose to live off-campus during college, there are many considerations, which is why it’s important to narrow down the number of options for apartments for college students by a number of factors. And, besides the quality of education, none weigh heavier than where you plan on spending these years.

Methodology:

      • RENTCafé is a nationwide apartment search website that enables renters to easily find apartments and houses for rent throughout the United States.
      • We calculated rent in the proximity of the TOP 100 U.S. universities in 2019 as ranked by U.S. News. We calculated the average rent in apartments located within one mile and two miles of the main campus address as listed on the U.S. News website and compared it to the average rent in apartments in the entire city where the university’s main campus address is located. Data not available in all locations. Where no rent data was available to meet the criteria, the radius may be expanded further or noted as N/A.
      • Apartment rent data were provided by Yardi Matrix, a RENTCafé sister company specialized in apartment market intelligence, providing up-to-date information on large-scale multifamily properties of 50+ units across 130+ markets in the United States. The comparative analysis is exclusively based on apartment data from multifamily buildings with 50+ units. Rent average values may vary based on geographical area and the number of units available. Rental rate coverage is for Market Rate properties only, fully affordable properties were excluded.

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage you and freely grant you permission to reuse, host, or repost the images in this article. When doing so, we only ask that you kindly attribute the authors by linking to RENTCafe.com or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology. For more in-depth, customized data, please contact us at media@rentcafe.com.

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About the author

Alexandra Ciuntu

Alexandra is a creative writer and researcher for RENTCafé. With a background in e-learning content writing and a passion for knowledge-sharing platforms, she's covered topics from prop-tech to renters insurance to interior design tips. Very familiar with the renter lifestyle herself, Alexandra enjoys researching and writing about renter demographic shifts and residential real estate market trends as much as she loves writing about how to get along with roommates. You can connect with Alexandra via email.

Alexandra’s work includes collaborations with financial and business publications. Her articles have been featured in several national and international online publications, including the New York Times, Barrons, Inman, Forbes, Marketwatch, Bisnow, and Curbed. Her educational background includes a B.A. in Japanese and English and an M.A. in Journalism and Cultural Studies.

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