When budgeting for college, one of the first things to consider is how much it will cost to live near campus. As a UT Austin student myself, I know that looking for housing can be a challenge.
At the Rambler leasing office, the majority of questions that we receive are related to pricing, specifically about the cost of living near UT Austin.
@rambleratx How much does it cost to live in West Campus? Part 1! #ut #utaustin #utaustintx #tx #hookem #longhorns #westcampus #college #collegeliving #austin #apartment ♬ Aesthetic – Tollan Kim
Though this seems to be a straightforward question, the truth is that it varies greatly and changes often. Rent prices depend on what type of housing you choose, the location, and the amenities offered.
Near the University of Texas at Austin, rental rates can range from around $500 to $2,000 per month, depending on a variety of factors. On-campus housing tends to fall on the mid-to-high end of this range.
To help you better understand the cost of living near UT Austin, we have put together an ultimate guide, including:
- How student housing apartments calculate rental rates
- Which factors affect the price of monthly rental rates
- Other fees to consider on top of monthly rental rate
How Much Does it Cost to Live in West Campus Austin?
How Student Housing Apartments Calculate the Rate of Rent
It’s important to understand how rental rates are calculated. This way, you can best understand what rents typically cost in West Campus.
In a house or traditional apartment complex, you and your roommates are typically required to sign one lease for the entire unit. This means that you’ll pay one lump sum rate each month, and are responsible for dividing the rent expense up amongst yourselves.
As opposed to traditional housing rates, purpose-built student housing is slightly different.
With purpose-built student housing, leases are not done by the entire apartment, but rather per bed. Each roommate signs an individual lease for their own room or bed in a room. Like traditional apartments, each individual lease agreement is divided into 12 equal installments. You pay these installments monthly over the course of the lease term (for a year-long lease). Each roommate is held responsible by the landlord for their portion of the lease. This way, they do not have to worry about whether or not other roommates pay their individual leases.
When looking for student housing, it’s important to understand if the rental rate listed is per bed or for the entire apartment or house.
It’s also important to know how long of a lease you’re required to sign.
For purpose-built student housing, a 12-month lease is standard. Move-in dates will typically be in mid-August, and move-out dates will typically be at the end of July. Sometimes, student housing apartments will have the option for early move-in, usually offered starting in early August.
At most student housing apartment complexes, this is how the process works, however some exceptions exist. There are some apartments that will work with you to sign a six-month lease if you need one. This can be handy for those who plan to graduate early or study abroad.
On-campus housing leases are typically offered as a nine-month contract to be occupied during the Fall and Spring semesters, rather than a full year. On-campus housing closes between the Fall and Spring semesters, so you do not have the option to stay during Winter break.
Factors That Affect the Price of Monthly Rental Rates
As we’ve already mentioned, rental rates greatly vary based on several key factors. These factors include housing type, floor plans, building age, and room features.
1. Housing Type
When looking for housing near the University of Texas at Austin, you have lots of options. Located at the heart of Austin, Texas, the area around campus offers a variety of housing types to meet the needs of UT’s diverse student body.
For undergraduate students, the most popular types of housing are:
- Residence halls
- Purpose-built student housing apartment complexes
- Greek (sorority and fraternity) houses
- Traditional apartment complexes
- Rental houses
Typically, housing that offers larger, more luxurious amenity packages (think 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, also known as dormitories, are an on-campus housing option for UT Austin students. The university owns the residence halls. The University of Texas does not require students to live on campus at any point during their education. However many underclassmen, specifically freshmen, do choose to live in the dorms.
At UT Austin, residence hall rates for the long session are offered as a nine-month contract. This includes the Fall and Spring semesters.
All residence hall rates at the University of Texas include room, meal plan, internet service, and laundry. They come furnished, but typically furnishings are limited to a desk and chair, dresser, extra-long twin bed, microwave, mini-refrigerator/freezer, closet space and shelving.
Residence halls fall on the mid-to-high end of the student housing price range. Upon publication in January 2024, 2024-25 residence hall rates range from $13,504 for a shared space with a community bath to $20,447 for a Duren single with a private bath. These rates are quoted per person for the nine-month contract. These rates include room, meal plan, internet service and laundry.
If you’d like to learn more about residence hall pricing, see UT’s Rates and Billing page.
Student Housing Apartments
The most popular off-campus housing option near the University of Texas at Austin are student housing apartments. These purpose-built apartments are tailored to fit student needs and provide an alternative to on-campus residence halls at a similar price point.
Student housing apartment complexes typically offer individual, year-long leases by the bed. 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.
However, in general, student housing apartments can fall on either end of the price range due to a large variance in amenity offerings and tend to range from about $700 to $2,000 per person.
New student housing developments typically range between $1,200 and $2,000 per person.
Most student housing apartments do not include a meal plan. However, there are some purpose-built student housing apartments that tailor their offerings to freshmen and include a meal plan, such as Castilian or Callaway. Keep in mind that when tailored to freshmen, these options have the amenities of a student housing apartment complex and the meal plan of a residence hall, so they can tend to be on the upper end of the price range.
On the lower end of the range, SMART housing rates tend to be around $800 to $1,300. Created by the City of Austin, SMART Housing is a program that aims to provide discounted housing rates for students who are receiving need-based financial aid, paying for school with student loans, or working to independently pay for school and living expenses. Most of the new developments in West Campus have 10% of their units or beds dedicated to SMART Housing.
For more information on SMART housing, see our guide to SMART housing for undergraduates.
Another form of off-campus housing that provides an alternative to residence halls are traditional apartment complexes.
Traditional apartments generally offer year-long leases. Leasing contracts at traditional apartments are usually offered by the apartment rather than by the bed.
Traditional apartments often provide more space and privacy at a lower price point than other forms of student housing. However, most traditional apartments lack the amenities packages that most purpose-built student housing apartments offer, and will usually offer a small amenity package at best.
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, number of bedrooms, etc.
At the University of Texas at Austin, approximately 10% of undergraduate students decide to join a sorority or fraternity. While this doesn’t seem like much, that’s over 4,000 students! Students who join Greek life at UT Austin often elect to live in their sorority or fraternity houses, another housing option in West Campus.
Each Greek organization privately maintains Greek houses. Members typically pay a flat fee for the lease term. This covers rent, utilities, and a meal plan for the term of the lease.
Many sorority and fraternity houses close for part or all of the summer, so the cost typically covers around nine months of housing. Some Greek houses will allow members to choose a semester-long lease rather than a nine-month lease. This is a convenient option for those studying abroad or graduating early.
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 and 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. Many Greek houses will offer discounted membership fees to those who opt to live in the house, so be sure to look into pricing if you are a part of Greek life at UT Austin.
The final housing option that we will discuss are traditional houses. Traditional houses are an excellent off-campus living option for students who do not prefer residence halls or apartments. Individual owners or investors typically own traditional houses. At times, they are leased through property management companies.
Students often rent houses in North Campus, but there are some options in West Campus. However, options in West Campus tend to be more expensive than in North Campus. Upperclassmen, primarily seniors, and graduate students will often choose to rent houses for a more laid-back environment.
Traditional houses are generally available as year-long leases. All roommates divide the monthly rental rate as agreed upon, a similar process to traditional apartments. Interested in a shorter lease? Ask your landlord about your options regarding lease terms.
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 on a per-person basis and 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.
Once you’ve decided which type of housing is right for you, consider how many people you’re going to live with.
Generally, apartments or houses 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 five bedrooms generally has a much lower individual rate than a space with two bedrooms.
One exception to this is SMART housing. The City of Austin reserves SMART housing units for individuals who make less than 80% of the median family income within the Austin metropolitan area or receive need-based financial aid.
Unsure if you qualify for SMART housing? Read our Ultimate Guide to SMART Housing Near UT Austin to learn more and find out if you qualify for discounted rates!
3. Building Age
Another factor that plays a large role in the price of rent is the age of the building. Typically, the price of rent decreases as a building’s age increases. Student housing apartments, traditional apartments, Greek houses and traditional houses usually show this trend.
However, since the University of Texas system owns residence halls, they are slightly different in this regard. For this reason, building age plays a much smaller role, and price increases are generally similar to tuition increases. The price of tuition typically increases slightly each year due to inflation and various other factors.
The age of a building often goes hand-in-hand with the amenity package provided. New developments will be more likely to offer more luxurious, modern amenities, while older complexes will have smaller amenity packages with fewer offerings.
4. Unit / Room Features
Finally, though it may not seem like an obvious factor, room features play a large role in determining your rental rate. The specific 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, you will also want to consider the impact of the factors below on cost:
- Does the unit come fully furnished?
- Does the unit have a balcony?
- Do you have your own bathroom?
- Does the bathroom attach to the bedroom?
- Do you have windows in your bedroom?
- Does your unit have a washer/dryer?
- What floor are you on? Are you on a quieter floor? One with better views?
Answer “yes” to any of the above questions? These factors are typically associated with higher rental rates.
Other Fees to Consider On Top of Monthly Rental Rate
Aside from the specific features of your space, there are additional elements that you can add to your monthly rate. These costs may include:
- Rental Insurance
- Moving fees
- Cable TV
- Pet Fees
- Technology Packages
- Security Deposit
While this list applies mainly to traditional or student housing apartment complexes, there are similar fees that apply to dorms and houses as well.
We hope that this article helped you begin to plan your budget and determine what type of housing option might be the right fit for you.
To learn more about the cost to live at Rambler, visit our floorplans page on our website.