Harsh economy impacts living off campus

By Liz Garrett
March 5, 2009

Megan Pellegrino

Despite the expectation for cheaper rents in the midst of this economic downturn, Cabrini students are instead finding their apartment rents to be on the rise.

Angie Sheets, director of Residence Life at Bryn Mawr College, has noticed and says she is not surprised by the recent trend of increasing apartment leases.

“High apartment rental costs have been a huge factor that has caused most of our students to live on campus,” Sheets said.

Sheets has observed through talking with students that it is common for them to try to get at lease one or two roommates together to split the price of the rent.

“This is such an expensive area to live in so it makes sense that students with transportation available may go further away off campus for less expensive rents,” Sheets said.

Cabrini’s commuter students are experiencing apartment rents to be a challenge to keep up with. Christy Ross, senior English and communication major, lives in the Kingswood Apartments in King of Prussia, Pa. She has yet to see a break in her lease payments. “I have to say I wish I never moved off campus,” Ross said. “It is cheaper than living on Cabrini’s campus but after you factor in the cost of food and utilities, it’s not much of a difference. I feel like I spend more money now.”

This is Ross’ second year living in Kingswood and even though her lease will be ending this coming June, she says that it could not come soon enough.

“Every year you live here, your rent increases 5-10 percent, which is not good for a college student,” Ross said. “You also have to consider that utilities are going to cost you at least $100. Right now my utility bill every month with electric, cable and water and sewage fee is around $160.”

Ross plans on seeking out alternative apartment complexes after she graduates from Cabrini. However, she has discovered already that a one-bedroom apartment can cost somewhere between $650 and $900, or more. Her goal is to pay around $450 to $500 per month for her rent, and so far she is unable to find enough options in the region she wants to live in.

“I have probably spent triple the amount of money living off campus than living on, and that is not an understatement,” Ross said. “I work part-time now and have help from my parents, but its definitely costing me more than I expected.”

The office of residence life on campus has just finalized the housing lottery process for students living on campus next year. According to George Stroud, director of Residence Life, the office’s preliminary results do not show any sign of a decrease in students seeking out on-campus housing.

“It does not appear that Cabrini’s on-campus population will be greatly impacted by those desiring to live off campus,” Stroud said.

Therefore, since the price for living off campus is rising, there is not an unusual number of students this year trying to live off-campus to escape Cabrini’s room and board expenses. Some Cabrini students are finding that although apartment rents are high, living off campus is still the better choice. Cara Carpou, junior communication major, lives in Bryn Mawr, Pa. with her friends from Villanova University. She has decided to renew her lease for the upcoming school year to avoid another apartment hunt.

“I know that when I began this housing search it was an absolute nightmare,” Carpou said. “Getting a house for four girls is virtually impossible.”

Carpou is currently living in a two-bedroom apartment with a friend and is not expecting a decrease in rent any time soon. “I can’t imagine having to look for a new place this year,” Carpou said. “I just went through it with my boyfriend and it was awful.”

“Living off campus is better in so many ways than living on campus,” Carpou said. “I lived on campus at Villanova my freshman and sophomore year, and I can’t see myself living on campus at Cabrini.”

Cabrini students are also using online resources for finding less expensive housing in this market.

“Personally, I think the best place for students to find reasonable housing is Craig’s List,” Carpou said. “I know many people who have used that Web site for houses and apartments and it turned out really well for them.”

Liz Garrett

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