How Much Does it Cost to Live in West Campus Near UT Austin?
by Megan Mills
Looking for housing as a student at the University of Texas at Austin is difficult. There isn’t a central place online to see all your options, and often websites for housing options aren’t transparent about their pricing, plus it’s always changing.
At the Waterloo leasing office, our most-asked question is about pricing, specifically, “How much does it cost to live in and around West Campus?”
While this would seem to be an easy question to answer, the truth is it’s a big range. How much you pay in rent ranges widely depends on what type of housing you choose, location, and the amenities offered. Rents in West Campus can range from $700 to $2000 per month, depending on a variety of factors. Rents in North Campus tend to fall on the lower end of that range, and on-campus housing falls around the mid-high end.
To provide more insight into the costs of living as a University of Texas at Austin student, we have put together the ultimate guide to understanding the cost to live in West Campus, including:
- How rental rates are calculated
- What affects the cost monthly rental rates
- Important fees to consider outside of monthly rent
How Much Does it Cost to Live in West Campus Austin?
How Rental Rates are Calculated at Student Housing Apartments
Before you understand what monthly rents typically cost, it’s important to understand how they are calculated.
In a traditional apartment complex or house, tenants are required to sign a twelve-month lease and make a monthly rental payment. If you have roommates, you will make an arrangement so that one roommate pays the total monthly rent to the landlord, and the other roommates pay this roommate their portions of the total cost.
Purpose-built student housing works a bit differently.
In student housing, leases are made per bed, not per apartment. You will sign an individual lease agreement for a total contract. That lease agreement is then divided into 12 equal installments and paid monthly. Each individual roommate is then held responsible by the landlord/property for their portion of the lease.
Move-in dates for student housing are typically in early August, and move-out dates are typically at the end of July.
With on-campus housing, the lease is typically offered as a nine-month contract to cover the Fall and Spring semesters.
What affects the cost of monthly rental rates for students living on campus and in West Campus?
Rental rates vary greatly based on several key factors, including the type of housing, age of the building, floor plans, and room features.
1. Type of Housing
With over 40,000 students, UT Austin and the surrounding areas offer a vast range of different types of housing. The most popular types for students are residence halls and dormitories, purpose-built student housing apartments, sorority/fraternity houses, traditional apartments, and houses.
Typically, spaces that offer more luxurious amenities such as fitness centers, study lounges, and pools, as well as spaces that come with a meal plan, will fall on the higher end of the price range.
Residence Halls and Dormitories
Residence halls and dormitories are on-campus housing options for students at UT Austin and are typically owned by the university. The two terms are typically used interchangeably to describe on-campus housing. While some universities require freshmen students to live in on-campus dorms during their first year, The University of Texas at Austin does not require this. However, underclassmen, primarily freshmen, make up the majority of the on-campus housing demographic.
At UT Austin, residence hall rates for the long session, which includes the Fall and Spring semesters, are offered as a nine-month contract. All rates include room, meal plan, internet service, and laundry. They generally include limited furnishings such as a desk and chair, dresser, extra-long twin bed, a combination microwave and mini-refrigerator/freezer, hanging space, and shelves.
Residence halls fall into the middle of the price range, starting at $12,277 for a shared space with a community bath, and single with a private bath starting from $12,277 to $20,538, or $1,364 to $2,282 per month as of July 2021.
Residence halls that include meal plans are comparable in price to student housing apartments that are tailored towards freshmen. Typically, freshmen will live in residence halls, or student housing apartments that are tailored towards freshmen.
See UT’s Rates and Billing page for more information.
Student Housing Apartments
Student housing apartments are off-campus housing options that are tailored to fit student needs, providing an alternative to on-campus dorms. Some of the bigger purpose-built student housing companies include Landmark Properties, Lincoln Ventures, Core Spaces, CA Ventures, and Scion. You can find undergraduate students from freshman to seniors leasing student housing apartments, as they have more amenity offerings than with other types of housing in West Campus.
These options are typically offered as individual, 12-month contracts. Some student housing apartments include a meal plan (these are generally intended for freshmen or first-year students), but most do not. They are typically fully furnished and provide a variety of amenities, such as elaborate fitness facilities, rooftop amenities, sports/recreation facilities, a pool deck, etc.
Student Housing Apartments can fall on either end of the price range, ranging from around $700 to $2,000 per person.
SMART housing rates tend to be on the lower end, usually around $700 to $1,200. SMART Housing is a program created by the City of Austin, aimed to provide discounted housing rates for students who are receiving need-based financial aid, paying for school via student loans, or working to pay for school and living expenses independently. For more information on SMART housing, see our guide to SMART housing for undergraduates.
Traditional apartments are another form of off-campus housing that is tailored to fit student needs, providing an alternative to on-campus dorms.
Traditional apartments generally offer 12-month leases. One roommate pays the total monthly rent to the landlord, and you will make an arrangement with your other roommate(s) to split the rent and utility bills. Traditional apartments often provide more space and privacy at a lower price point than other forms of student housing.
Traditional apartments can fall on either end of the price range, ranging from around $500 to $2,000 per person depending on a variety of factors such as amenities, age of the building, renovations, etc.
For students who decide to join a sorority or fraternity, sorority/fraternity houses are another housing option in West Campus.
They are privately maintained by the Greek organization, and members are typically charged a flat fee for the year, covering rent, utilities, and a meal plan. Most sorority/fraternity houses close for part or all of the summer, so the cost typically covers around 9 months of housing.
Most Greek members are able to live in this housing in their sophomore or junior year. Room styles vary greatly, with some sharing bedrooms and bathrooms and others having their own individual rooms.
Sorority/fraternity houses can range greatly in price, with sorority houses typically falling on the low end of the price range and fraternity houses falling on the mid-high end of the price range.
Houses provide an off-campus living option for students who do not prefer dorms and apartments. They are typically owned by individual owners or investors and sometimes leased through property management companies. Students will usually rent houses in North Campus, but there are some options in West Campus. Upperclassmen, primarily seniors, and graduate students will often choose to rent houses for a more laid-back environment.
These options are generally offered as 12-month leases, with the monthly cost being divided as agreed upon amongst all roommates. Some houses will have a pool or hot tub, but most do not have too many amenities. They are also typically unfurnished, meaning you need to consider furniture costs.
Houses typically fall on the low-mid end of the price range but can range from around $500 to $1,500 per month per person. Generally, North Campus houses will fall on the lower end of this range, while houses in West Campus will fall on the higher end.
2. Age of Building
The age of the building that you are considering also plays a large role in the price of rent. Generally, the price of rent decreases as a building’s age increases.
When it comes to student housing apartments, traditional apartments, and houses, you usually see this general trend. However, residence halls and dormitories differ slightly, as they are owned by the University. In this case, the age of the building plays less of a role, and price increases are generally similar to tuition increases – they rise slightly each year due to inflation and other factors.
Oftentimes, the age of a building goes hand-in-hand with the amenities provided, as newer developments will be more likely to offer more luxurious, modern amenities.
With so many types of student housing options available, there are also a plethora of floorplan options.
Generally, apartments with shared rooms and/or bathrooms will be the cheapest, while apartments with individual rooms and bathrooms will be more expensive.
Another consideration is the total number of bedrooms in a floorplan. A space with four or five bedrooms would generally have a much lower individual rate than a space with one or two bedrooms.
One exception to this is SMART housing. SMART housing units are specially priced and reserved for individuals who make less than 80% of the median family income within the Austin metropolitan area.
4. Room Features
Though it may not seem like it at first glance, the features of your space can increase the price of rent significantly. Ultimately, while the number of bedrooms and bathrooms are the biggest factors in driving price, the factors listed below also impact the cost:
- Is the space furnished?
- Does the room have a balcony?
- Do you have your own bathroom?
- Do you have windows in your room?
- Is there a washer/dryer in your unit?
- What floor are you on? Are you on a quieter floor, one with better views?
Any “yes” answers to the above questions are typically associated with higher rent in apartments. These factors will similarly apply to houses and dorms as well.
Other costs to consider besides rental rate
Aside from the features of your space, there are additional aspects of renting that can add to your monthly rate. These costs may include:
- Rental Insurance
- Moving fees
- Cable TV
- Pet Fees
- Technology Packages
While this list applies mainly to apartments, the same concept applies to dorms and houses.
What This Means for Students
Overall, the cost of living near UT Austin is not as straightforward as it might initially seem.
Whether you’re looking for an apartment or house near UT Austin, or want something on-campus, you are not short of options. We hope that this article informs you and helps make your rental journey a bit easier.
Get Email Updates
Sign up for the Waterloo newsletter and get exclusive event invitations, construction updates, promos and more.