Students find dorm living more expensive than apartments, despite added costs

Due to a lack of affordable housing around NYU’s Washington Square campus, some students are contemplating whether it makes sense to live on campus for the next academic year.


Natalia Kempthorne-Curiel

The rising costs of off-campus housing has placed students in a precarious situation. (Natalia Kempthorne-Curiel for WSN)

Liam Hibbert, Staff Writer

As the housing application for the coming academic year opens, and students make the decision between staying on campus and venturing out into the New York City real estate market, many are opting for apartment living to save money. Although asking prices in many neighborhoods popular with NYU students have increased, many fall below the cost of living in a dorm.

Asking prices for two-bedroom apartments in many areas where NYU students frequently rent, like the Village and the Upper West Side in Manhattan and Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, have increased from January 2022 to 2023, according to the listing site StreetEasy. Two-bedrooms in other popular neighborhoods, such as Stuyvesant Town, Williamsburg and the Lower East Side, have either decreased in cost or stayed the same.

Average asking prices in these neighborhoods, irrespective of the number of bedrooms, all increased from 2022, although less than last year’s 33% spike in rent cost. NYU junior Olivia Fergus-Brummer said that when she moved from a low-cost dorm in Gramercy Green to an East Village apartment this year, she saved money, despite the costs of broker fees, utilities and furnishing an off-campus living space.

“I have a lot of friends who were never in housing or were an RA for one semester because that was what they could afford,” Fergus-Brummer said. “NYU should have more low-cost housing options, especially because people are coming from all over the world, and having that community of a dorm can be really integral to your first year.”

Median rent in neighborhoods popular with NYU students

Asking prices for two-bedroom apartments in popular neighborhoods near campus ranged from $3,000 in Bushwick to $6,200 in the infamously unaffordable West Village, which comes out to around $1,500-3,100 in rent, per person, according to StreetEasy.

In comparison, the cost of four of the most popular non-first-year housing options — Carlyle Court, Gramercy Green, Lafayette Hall and Palladium residence hall — in the 2022-23 academic year was $18,466, which comes out to about $2,308 for each of the roughly eight months students live in dorms.

Unlike apartments, however, dorms have 24-hour Campus Safety officer supervision, can have better access to campus and do not require residents to buy furniture, which can cost anywhere from $3,500-5,800. In NYU housing, however, students typically share a bedroom with at least one roommate — and sometimes two.

When many people returned to the city last spring, housing costs skyrocketed. In the coming spring and summer — when housing costs typically start to go up in New York City — experts predict that price hikes will be gentler, but that the number of units available to rent will be limited.

From April to September each year, rental prices rise as an influx of both students and new professionals move to the city. During this period, sometimes called the “Summer Rush,” renters must often act quickly — often in a matter of days — to get an apartment before it is rushed off the market.

Despite the added costs and challenges that come with off-campus housing, many students are able to find apartments below the cost of dorms. Jasia Kubick, an NYU junior who currently works as a dorm RA, said she thinks students would benefit from the opportunity to live on campus, but that high costs drive many to find off campus housing.

“More students would probably stay on campus if it weren’t for how expensive it is to dorm,” Kubick said. “If [dorms] were cheaper, I feel like people would be better off overall, but I know it doesn't work that way.”

Contact Liam Hibbert at [email protected].