College students are always looking for ways to save money. One way to stick to your budget is to reduce the amount spent on your student accommodation.
In certain cities, the cost of student housing is skyrocketing, making up a large chunk of a student’s expenses. This is why many local students today are staying at home, if they live near enough to campus, so they can save money on rent.
For international students, this isn’t an option – you must be creative and smart in how you spend on student accommodation and all that comes with it.
Here are some hacks to help reduce the financial burden of student accommodation:
Look for free or used furniture
Chances are, you’re only going to live in your student housing for a couple of years, so why spend on brand-new furniture?
Make use of websites such as Freecycle or Craig’s List (depending where you study), or join Facebook groups where you can either buy used furniture or request stuff that people are giving away for free.
You can also reach out to international student associations who can connect you to students who are graduating soon and are keen to get rid of their furniture.
In the summertime, many people hold yard/garage sales too, where you can find some hidden gems for next to nothing!
Commute to class
Typically, the closer your accommodation is to campus, the more expensive it will be. If you don’t need to live walking distance from your university, you can always choose a different neighbourhood where renting is cheaper.
If you choose this option, just make sure it’s a safe area and that there is accessible public transport so you won’t be late for class.
Weather permitting, you can even get a bicycle (look for a used one to save money) to get you to class if you live a bit further away- an eco-friendly option that will also improve your fitness!
This option may be better for you after a semester or year of studying abroad, so you can get used to your surroundings and scout out the best neighbourhood for you to live in.
Split the rent with others
Of course, splitting the rent between four people in a two-bedroom apartment is always cheaper than two.
If you don’t mind sharing a room, this is an ideal way to save money, not just on rent but utilities and furniture too.
There are some international students who even turn a living room into an extra bedroom, so there are ways to be creative about this.
Just make sure you’re not violating your lease agreement if it states that there can’t be more renters than agreed in a single home.
Save energy, save money
Your gadgets and even light bulbs could be racking up your electricity bill without you even knowing, especially devices with heating elements (irons, hairdryers, ovens, space heaters) which take up more electricity than others.
When you buy these items, check the wattage levels to ensure they’re not too high. Never leave them on for an extended period.
You can also use LED light bulbs which use 75 percent less energy than incandescent lighting, and last much longer too.
Although they are slightly more expensive than other bulbs, you won’t need to change them for as long as you are studying abroad, as they can last up to 20 years, while incandescent bulbs only last a few months.
Another simple way to cut down on your electricity or gas bill is to make sure to turn off all your lights, A/C or heater when you leave a room or your home.
If you’re not sure how to calculate your watt usage, check out this simple guide on energy consumption.
If you’re nifty, you can DIY your own home decor items or furniture using a little dash of creativity. For example, you can change the fabric on an old used chair to give it a fresh look, or fix up a broken dining table.
This article on Buzzfeed shows you how to turn bookends into floating bookshelves, so you get the idea.
If you want to express your creativity but lack the funds to decorate, you can use washi tape, corkboards, pegboards or other craft items to decorate your room.
You can also browse Pinterest for ideas and inspiration on DIY projects, and you could not only save money, but enjoy some relaxing creative time as well. It’s always satisfying to make or fix something with your own two hands.