To Live On-Campus Or Not? A Budget Breakdown For NS Student Housing Options

Debt-Free University

If you’re not able to stay at home throughout your education, one of the largest financial costs of university is housing. In order to help you out I’ve made this breakdown of rental costs for students studying in Halifax, Nova Scotia. While my calculations have been made based on this locality, the trends below appear to be congruent with most Canadian cities (exact prices vary).

Average cost of a single room per term (8 months)

  • Dalhousie University                            $7,533.75
  • Mount Saint Vincent University      $6,177.75
  • Saint Mary’s University                      $6,810.00

Average cost of one bedroom in an apartment in downtown Halifax per term (8 months)

  • One Bedroom                                            $7,432.00
  • Two Bedroom                                            $4,916.00
  • Three Bedroom                                         $4,805.33

Average cost of one bedroom in an apartment outside of downtown Halifax per term (8 months)

  • One Bedroom                                             $6,064.00
  • Two Bedroom                                             $3,572.00
  • Three Bedroom                                         $3,410.00

The verdict: overall, having a one bedroom apartment in Halifax is among the most expensive options, however, if you are able to live with one or more roommates renting off campus is the cheapest option.

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Extra Considerations

The calculations above do not include additional costs like internet or cable which can add up over time and are often provided as flat fees, meaning that they will cost less each month as more roommates are factored in.

If you are living away from home for the first time it is also important to consider whether or not your rental includes utilities such as hydro, heat and power. Depending on the condition of the apartment and your lifestyle these bills can pile up: ask to see copies of old monthly bills or for a statement of the average bill cost before committing to a lease (the landlord may have this information on hand or you may have to contact power and water corporations).

There are pros and cons to both living on residence and living on your own:

Pros of Living on Residence

  • Good way to meet new people and make friends
  • Close to class and university buildings
  • No dealing with bad landlords
  • Utilities included
  • Easy access to university support networks
  • Residence period corresponds with school year (good if you’re going home for the summer)

Cons of Living on Residence 

  • Shared bathrooms and common areas
  • Limited space (no living room)
  • Intermixing of work and play (you never really leave school)
  • Thin walls
  • Residence period corresponds with school year (bad if you want to stay year round)

Pros of Renting

  • More spacious and more storage
  • Kitchen + food storage
  • Can be way cheaper
  • Option to pick your area of town
  • Not as many ‘roommates’
  • Share the bathroom with one or two people
  • Roomie bonding
  • You can have pets
  • Plenty of parking

Cons of Renting 

  • Dealing with landlords
  • Stuck on a lease
  • Dealing with sublets
  • Potential financial burden if roommates are flaky
  • You have to get used to cooking, cleaning and potentially property maintenance for yourself
  • Damage deposit woes (upwards of half a month’s rent)

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