Onward State Guide to Apartment Hunting

October is upon us, which means it’s time to start panicking about how you don’t have an off-campus apartment for next year yet. Well, stay calm and read on — we here at Onward State have put together a little guide to finding your ideal apartment in State College.

Whether or Not to Move Off-Campus

You’ll probably want to answer this question first — is it worth it for you to move off campus? A few weeks ago, we ran this piece on the things you’ll miss about living in the dorms. So, are you ready to take care of yourself? To clean your own bathroom, to make your own food? To actually pay bills?

You also might miss living in close quarters with all your friends — you can’t just walk down the hall to hang out with them living off-campus. One of the best things about living in the dorms is being around so many people you’ve grown to know, and it’s easy to see how you might lose touch with a lot of people if you don’t see them on a day-to-day basis.

What might be even more germane to your decision your parents’ decision are the cost considerations. You might want to think about these numbers before you decide to apply for a lease off-campus:

Room (Standard Double) 4,910.00 598.78
Meal Plan (Level 3) 4,100.00 500.00
Total 9,010.00 1,098.78

*Assuming the school year is 8.2 months (August 27th, 2012 – May 3, 2013)

If you at least want to break even with the cost of living on campus, dividing the $9,010 total cost of living on campus per year by twelve months to leaves you with an allowance of $750.83 per month for off campus living. You can get even more if you sublet for the summer.

Rent varies based on square footage, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, location, and other factors, but $600/month for rent is the average for most places. At that cost, you would have around $150/month to spend on food (and alcohol — let’s be real, that’s probably one of the reasons you want to move off-campus). If you keep your expenditures below that number, you’ll be spending less than what it costs to live in the dorms.

If, after all these considerations, you’ve decide ‘yes, I want to move off campus’, then proceed to the next section.

Choosing a Place

You’re going to want to figure out what you want out of your apartment. Do you want to live close to campus? Do you want to live in Beaver Canyon or somewhere else in the heart of downtown? Do you want to get away from all the commotion and live down all the way over on Bellaire Avenue in the middle of nowhere?

In general, the high-traffic, downtown apartments (think Cedarbrook) as well as those located close to campus will be in high demand and will thus command higher prices. This also means that if you’re willing to live in a pretty remote location–say, all the way down on South Allen–you can probably get a nice apartment for a cheaper rent.

Remember, people are going to be lining up for the apartments that everyone wants and not everyone will get a lease, so the highly demanded locations will probably command rather unreasonable prices and possibly the dedication of camping out.

For comparison, an 1,100 square foot apartment might cost up to $3,000 a month in State College; for that price, you could get a comparable place in Manhattan. It ain’t cheap to live the bougie lifestyle here, so don’t be afraid to look for places that people might not know about. You might come across a gem–a decent combination of location, size, and price is definitely achievable if you know where to look.

A great resource for finding the perfect apartment is the off-campus housing directory on And if you’re willing to live with a random person or a possible axe murderer, there is always Craigslist.

Below is a map with the location and approximate price range for every apartment rented to students by ARPM, the Apartment Store, and AW & Sons:

View Apartments in State College in a larger map

NOTE: Per person-per month prices are calculated with the assumption that maximum occupancy is fulfilled. Be careful, some listings may be deceptively inexpensive — the realtors’ maximum occupancy number might be higher than that of your personal comfort level. You’re definitely not fitting six people into those apartments they have at The Legend.

NOTE: What is included in pricing (i.e. utilities, cable, internet) may vary among the listings. Again, some listings may be deceptively inexpensive.

A Few Closing Comments

These apartments aren’t your only alternative to dorm living. There are other on-campus options, like Nittany Apartments or the (apparently) “insanely luxurious” Eastview Terrace.

There are plenty of houses available for rent too, but be aware of borough codes that limit the number of student tenants per unit. In addition, there are plenty of options outside the heart of State College — if you’re willing to live beyond walking distance of campus, you’ll have a plethora of options to choose from whether on North Atherton or even Bellefonte.

Hopefully this guide has helped you, and happy apartment hunting!

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About the Author

Bobby Chen

Writer and photographer, helping tell the many stories of the Penn State community.

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