Skip to main content

Refine Results


Base Rental Rate vs. Total Monthly Cost for a Student Apartment in Austin

By Madison

As a college student myself, I know how confusing it can be to navigate the housing process, especially when it comes to cost. Between rent, utilities, and other added fees, it can be stressful to determine exactly how much you’ll be paying each month.

While it may seem easy to compare the rates listed on each property’s website, the price that is quoted as base rent is not necessarily what you will actually be charged each month.

Read Next: How Much Does it Cost for Students to Live Near UT Austin?

At Rambler, we’ve helped hundreds of students throughout the leasing process, so we know how confusing it can be. Our team is up-front about which fees you’ll be subject to pay when you sign a lease at Rambler, so you don’t have to worry about there being any surprises when your bill comes each month.

In this article, we explain the difference between base rate and total monthly rate, to help you understand the full amount you will pay when you sign a lease at a student apartment.

Four roommates hang out in their kitchen at Rambler, their new West Campus Austin apartment

Base Rate vs. Total Monthly Cost in Austin Student Housing

What is Base Rate?

Base rate is the price listed for each of the floor plans on a property website. This amount is the starting rate that only includes rent. This rate does not include any upgrades, utilities or additional fees.

How is Base Rate Calculated?

Base rate is typically calculated in one of two different ways depending on the type of housing you chose: a traditional lease or an individual lease.

For traditional houses or apartments, the base rental rate is calculated for the house or apartment in its entirety. You and your roommates will sign one contract with your landlord, holding you all equally liable for paying rent each month for the entire lease. It will be up to you and your roommates to decide how to split up the rental rate instead of being separated for you like student housing.

For student housing, you will sign an individual or a “by-the-bed” lease. This will hold you individually responsible for only your portion of the rent. That typically includes your room (or bed) and the use of communal spaces or amenities. The base rate listed online is the amount of rent you will personally be responsible for before any added fees.

Read Next: Student Apartments vs. Traditional Apartments: Which is Right for Me?

Each floor plan type has a base rate that is determined based on the number of roommates and bathrooms in the unit. In a by-the-bed apartment, each bed or bedroom will have its own base rate. The following features typically result in a higher base rate:

  • Furnished apartment
  • Higher floor of the property / premium views
  • Balcony
  • Extra windows
  • Ensuite bathrooms
  • Walk-in closets
  • Washer and dryer in the unit
  • Fewer bedrooms per unit (studios, 1x1s, etc.)

On the other hand, these factors typically result in a lower base rate:

  • Double occupancy (shared bedrooms)
  • Shared bathrooms
  • More bedrooms per unit (5×5, 6×6, etc.)

Read Next: 8 Ways to Save Money on Student Housing in West Campus Austin

Some properties may include other factors into their base rate as well aside from the list above. For example, at Rambler we include cable, high-speed WiFi, and a wall-mounted smart TV in every unit in addition to washer/dryers units and furniture.

Interior image of Rambler kitchen with furnishings and appliances.

Representative kitchen featuring Rambler’s standard finishes and appliances.

What is Total Monthly Cost?

Total monthly cost is the amount that you will actually be billed for every month. This is equal to base rent plus any additional fees. Some of these are based on each resident’s lifestyle needs, such as parking or pet rent. Others are required, such as utilities and renter’s insurance.

Additional fees may include:

  • Utilities
  • Rental Insurance
  • Trash
  • Parking
  • WiFi
  • Cable TV
  • Pet Rent
  • Technology Packages

Remember, some apartments will include some of these add-ons in their base rent, while others may not.

So, just because a property lists a lower initial base rate doesn’t mean it will be the most cost-effective option overall. It’s important to consider not only the base rate, but the other additional monthly costs in order to calculate a more accurate total monthly cost. This will give you a more accurate comparison of your monthly housing expenses across different properties.

We hope this article helped you get a better idea of how to calculate and budget for total monthly costs at student housing properties. If you have any more questions about rates, feel free to contact our leasing staff. Our team is more than happy to answer any of your questions.

Madison Rosenow, Rambler Leasing Manger


Madison is the Leasing Manager for Rambler. She went to Texas A&M University and has 5+ years of experience in student housing leasing. In the office, you'll find her enjoying a vanilla latte from Daydreamer!

February 01, 2023

Get email updates

We invite you to sign up for our monthly newsletter featuring exclusive events, promos and more.