Balancing funds can be hard, especially as a college student. For first-time students at ETSU, it can be harder to find that balance between school, work and a decent social life. Many students question whether the dorms are the best choice or if apartments suit them better. Some are even considering renting a house with friends, but aren’t sure if they can afford it. These are good questions to ask in advance, and here are a few things to consider.

For the 2018-19 semester, a dorm room at ETSU’s Clement Hall rents at $1,955 for a semester, which comes out to $391 per month, per person. In total, the rent for a room and community bathroom is $782. For Governors Hall, one person is paying $514 a month, or $1,028 total for two people, one room and one bathroom.

What about apartments? University Edge is across from ETSU campus, a convenient location, with four bedrooms and four private bathrooms. The cost for each person is $525/month, totaling $2,100 for rent. Student Quarters is behind campus with the same floor plan at $445/person/month, totaling $1,780 for rent.

Sure, these high prices include water, electric and internet, but these prices expect too much, even with the amenities.

Finding a house with a few friends is the best option available for students. Landlords know college students search for housing off campus, and they usually offer great deals for housing near campus. Check online (I recommend Zillow) and see what houses are for rent and the asking price.

Start your budget at the even level of what you’re paying now, because anything you find asking less is saving money, and anything that matches gives you better space quality.

My house has four bedrooms, two baths with rent at $1,200. That’s $300/person for the month. As for the water and electric bill, together they come out under $200, again split by four would be about $50/person. We have standard internet at $55/month, so $14/person. Total amount per person to live in a beautiful neighborhood home: estimated $360/person/month.

Any furniture you need – a couch, a couple lamps, pots, pans, plates – all those can be found cheap at Walmart or Target and even cheaper from neighbors, yard sales, and especially thrift stores like Goodwill, Salvation Army or other locally-owned thrift stores.

It’s important to feel comfortable, both personally and financially, in a space you call home. As you’re considering your options for living arrangements in the coming year, take these figures into account, and do your own research. You’ll be surprised at what you can find.