The Cheapest (And Most Expensive) College Towns For Renters

“Columbia Missouri – Downtown Historic District” by Onasill ~ Bill

As if college tuition and fees weren’t costly enough, living expenses also exist. And depending on where your university is located, could be very expensive. Or it could be relatively cheap. Apartment Guide, a platform connecting renters with apartments, looked at average rent at 65 major U.S. college towns and cities to create a list looking at the cheapest and most expensive college towns.

Of the top-25 cheapest college towns, all but one are located in the South or Midwest. At the top is Columbia, Missouri, home to the University of Missouri, Stephens College, and Columbia College. Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Midwestern college town is $714. But for a two-bedroom and three-bedroom, the price goes up marginally to $850 and $852, respectively. That’s $284 per room for students sharing a three-bedroom apartment.

The second-cheapest town is not far away. Lawrence, Kansas — home to the University of Kansas — is the second least-expensive college town where the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is just $697. A two-bedroom is $851 and a three-bedroom is $936. Nearby Manhattan, Kansas is the third cheapest college town. Home to Kansas State University, rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $694. A two-bedroom is $861 and a three-bedroom will be around $940.

From the Apartment Guide report


Apartment Guide ranked 63 cities in total. Cities were included if they were home to a university with an NCAA Football Bowl Series team in a Power Five conference (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC), plus Notre Dame.

“Each city included in our report was ranked 1 through 63 for one-, two- and three-bedroom unit prices per bedroom,” the report reads. “That total was then added together and divided by three. Cities with the lowest total score were determined to be the most affordable.”

The methodology made it so a city could not place at the top of an of the individual categories but still do well overall. Columbia is an example. It didn’t place higher than third but also didn’t place lower than sixth in any of the one-bedroom, two-bedroom, or three-bedroom categories.


For one-bedroom apartments, the least expensive city is Champaign, Illinois, where rent is just $632. Champaign is followed by Stillwater, Oklahoma ($643). Manhattan and Lawrence, Kansas are next with $694 and $697, respectively. And Norman, Oklahoma rounds out the top five with $704.

In the two-bedroom category, Iowa City, Iowa is the cheapest option with an average rent of $739. Stillwater, Oklahoma is second again with $766. Morgantown, West Virginia follows with $823. And Champaign, Illinois, Columbia, Missouri, and Norman, Oklahoma round out the top five with $838, $850, and $850, respectively.

But if you’re looking for the overall cheapest room available on the list, a three-bedroom apartment in Oxford, Mississippi is your answer. At just $512 for a three-bedroom apartment, students at the University of Mississippi could pay about $171 per room. Following Oxford is Morgantown, West Virginia, where a three-bedroom apartment averages at $719. Columbia, Missouri follows at $852. And Ames, Iowa and Lawrence, Kansas round out the top five with $933 and $936, respectively.

From the Apartment Guide report


Then there are the most expensive college cities. And they likely come with little surprise. Most are urban, hug the coasts, or both. At the top is Los Angeles, where a one-bedroom goes for about $3,200, a two-bedroom for $4,522, and a three-bedroom for a whopping $8,333.

Following Los Angeles is Seattle where a one-bedroom apartment is $2,534, a two-bedroom is $3,870, and three-bedroom is $7,802. Rounding out the top-three most expensive is Berkeley, in the San Francisco Bay Area. A one-bedroom in Berkeley goes for $2,285, a two-bedroom for $4,607, and three-bedroom for $6,900.

For the full report, go here.

From the Apartment Guide report


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