Should I Stay…Or Should I Go?

Jason Roblin

It is early March and college/university students are starting to think about where they are going to live and work during the summer. Of course, much of this is based on whether or not they are going to keep their apartment.

With major project deadlines approaching and the need to prepare for final exams, it is a busy and stressful time. Having to make the major decision of whether or not to give up your apartment is not one to be taken lightly.

Many students will choose to return to their hometown as the school year wraps up. After all, it’s appealing to have the comforts of home (aka less Kraft Dinner) and live rent free for a few months with mom and dad.

However, there is a flip side and it is often best to weigh all the pros and cons of moving back home versus staying in the city. Even though you might be looking forward to free Internet and your mother doing your laundry for you, it often comes down to dollars and cents (and what truly makes sense!).

Let’s assume, for example, that a student is living in a $1,200 per month apartment with a roommate, therefore between the two of them they are paying about $600 plus $50 for electricity in terms of housing costs.

If the students give up their apartment for April 30, they would save on rent for three months, so the savings would equal approximately $1,950 ($650 x 3 months).

The cost of moving is usually minimal as parents will often bring the horse trailer, cube van or pickup truck to move the furniture that needs to go home. Let’s assume there’s a minor cost of $200 for gas for the trip here and back.

We will also work on the assumption that there is room at the parents’ home for the furniture and that it can be stored for free. We will also assume the cost to move back is the same, about $200. In this scenario, the student would be ahead by $1,550 ($1,950 – $400 for moving expenses), plus the cost of food for the three months without rent.

In August, when it is time to find a new apartment, many students often decide to ditch the roommate and take on a place of their own. The cost of living on your own increases and the new apartment may be $975 plus hydro for a total of $1,100.

This may seem great, however, when they return to school in the one bedroom unit they would actually be spending $450 more a month during the entire next year of school.

From August through to April, this ends up being $4,050. So, if they had decided to keep the apartment (and the roommate) for the three summer months, it ends up being cheaper in the long run.

There’s also a lot less hassle. Even if you’re just moving a couch, your bed, a dresser and your personal belongings, it can still be stressful and inconvenient (there’s only so many times that your buddies will lend a hand).

Also, by keeping the apartment you don’t have to worry about looking for a new place to live or settling in. Instead, when September hits, you’ll be organized, refreshed and ready to hit the books.

I only wish someone had mentioned all of this to me when I first started my post-secondary education. After my first year of university, I did the same thing. I packed up all of my stuff at the end of April and moved back home.

After that year, I realized there was little to be saved by doing this. Now, I also see the panic in our prospective tenants that do this when they come back to the city in August. They quickly discover that there are few options remaining as many of the spaces that were vacated by students in April and May had been filled over the summer.

It’s more important to be focused on getting back into the groove of studying, rather than worrying about where you’re going to live and how to make up for added costs.

Vionell Holdings Partnership (VHP) provides rental housing and property management for an array of residential and commercial customers, including Condominium Management. VHP currently has over 3,500 units under management in Manitoba.  For more information please visit