off campus living budget

<p>D will be sharing a house/apt next year with 2 friends, and we are wondering what to budget per month for meals (assuming she figures out how to to cook for herself and lives on something other than ramen.) Any experience?</p>

<p>My son had been living off campus for the last year and a half. We give him the same amount of money he would have paid for the full meal plan if he were still living in the dorms. It seems to work out OK.</p>

<p>DD is living off-campus, which saves us several thousand dollars a year. We gave her about $250 a month for food, plus $500 for rent/bills. She also works to supplement this and pay for personal expenses.</p>

<p>Figuring out a reasonable budget continues to be a work in progress.
I think $15 a day for food MINIMUM. Since it is impossible for S to coordinate meals with roommates, everyone going different directions, this $15 a day is probably too little, most days. Single meals are expensive. </p>

<p>His rent and utilities come out to around $500 a month, and he has a $500 a month budget for food and other incidentals (not including books).</p>

<p>Both of our college kids live off campus. For their food allowance (not counting other expenses and money given to them), we give them money equal to the cost of the college's full meal plan on a monthly basis.</p>

<p>We give DS $300 per month which pays his heating bill, cable and food. His electricity is included in his rent. He says $300 covers these expenses just fine.</p>

<p>I'm curious about the two of you who give your kids the equivalent of the college's full meal plan. At my D's school that would be about $26 per day. I had hoped that when she moves off campus next year her costs would be significantly lower. We are currently paying $2934 per semester just for food!! Is your child's meal plan that expensive?</p>

<p>Puzzled, I don't know where your daughter attends college. Mine attend pretty expensive schools (Brown and NYU) and their schools' meal plans are about $3800 PER SCHOOL YEAR. Your figure of $2934 PER SEMESTER just doesn't sound right to me.</p>

<p>EDIT...I looked up where I think your D goes to school based on other posts you have made and looked at their meal plan prices and yes, they are whopping. They are way higher than at Brown or NYU!</p>

<p>(though I can tell you that housing at NYU is more than most schools!!)</p>

<p>I like Ramen ;)
It is pretty fast and easy to mix up noodles and throw in some veggies and tofu. You also can get the baked noodles instead of fried.</p>

<p>I agree that school is really high.
Oh... wait Plan A—($5,020)
My daughter had an once a day meal plan when she lived off campus that she shared with her roomie.
They generally ate breakfast at different times- and ate dinner when ever- or whereever, but it was nice to be able to have one meal a day that they didn't have to shop or cook for.</p>

<p>When my S lived off campus the last 2 years of college, we also gave him the equivalent of his meal plans on campus. He lived with 2 other guys, and the kitchen was so filthy stacked with unwashed pans and dishes (by one of the boys) that S never bothered to cook. He also studied in the library till late at night after his classes without going back home so the convenient thing was to buy food at different eateries around the edges of campus.</p>

<p>My D lived on campus all four years and I wished my S did too.</p>

<p>Thanks for this thread. I'm moving off campus next year, and I've been trying to figure out how much money I'm going to need for food. I may put money for food, rent and utilities (rent+utilities is usually $500 or less here, too) in a separate account for the first term so that I can track how much I'm spending more easily. Remember that at the beginning of the year your kid will need to spend more in order to stock up the kitchen and purchase cooking supplies.</p>

<p>My current "moderate" meal plan costs $3,297 to purchase, but it only gives you 2,217 dining dollars. Since 1 dining dollar = $1 (my meal plan is a la carte, not all you can eat or 1 swipe=1 meal), my meal plan essentially comes with a hefty surcharge. The freshman meal plan costs $4,866. At my school you can definitely save money on food by moving off campus. Even if I ate the same amount of food as before and ate all meals in the dining hall but paid in cash instead of through my meal plan, I would save over $1,000 a year.</p>

<p>My D's food costs went way down after moving off campus. She's a vegetarian and there really wasn't much for her on campus. She now cooks for herself and it's much less expensive and much better food as well, plus she's expanding her cooking abilities.</p>

<p>Rather than just handing her cash for food, we have a gift card, from a grocery store that's targeted at college students. She has a card and we have a card. We can 'refill' our card at the grocery and it appears as a 'refill' for her card and she then uses that to buy the groceries. She tells us when it starts getting low and we add more to it. It's much more convenient than shifting money around. It also ensures that it's used for grocery items although that's not an issue with her.</p>

I'm curious about the two of you who give your kids the equivalent of the college's full meal plan. At my D's school that would be about $26 per day. I had hoped that when she moves off campus next year her costs would be significantly lower. We are currently paying $2934 per semester just for food!! Is your child's meal plan that expensive?


<p>At my son's school, the meal plan is considerably less expensive than that; at my daughter's school, only a little less expensive (but she does not have the fullest meal plan offered). </p>

<p>But in any case, I don't think you should assume that food costs will be lower off campus. Many students living off campus find it necessary to eat a lot of meals on campus, at various facilities where they can pay cash. These facilities may be at least as costly, if not more costly, than the dining halls. </p>

<p>Also, because of conflicting schedules and/or because some of the residents of an apartment do not want to cook and/or because there may not be a supermarket within walking distance, a student living off campus may find it necessary to rely heavily on take-out food or the casual restaurants and sandwich shops that proliferate near most campuses. At the beginning of the semester, kids may say that they will take a public bus to the supermarket twice a week to buy food, but this takes up a lot of time, and carrying all the bags is difficult. After a while, kids tend to slip into more convenient (but probably more expensive) ways of eating. </p>

<p>Even those students who cook may find themselves cooking just for themselves, and doing it only for a few meals per week rather than many meals. Cooking for one is more expensive (per person) than cooking for a group, and cooking only occasionally is more expensive than cooking regularly because staple items used in recipes often spoil before they get used up.</p>

<p>I wouldn't expect much savings in food costs from moving off campus.</p>

<p>And to add to the above, you should also expect some substantial initial expenses when your child moves off campus, for the following:</p>

<li><p>Equipment and utensils for cooking and eating: Even if your child does not plan to cook often, he/she still needs a few pots and pans, plates, cups, potholders, spatula, colander, slotted spoon, knives, containers for storing leftovers, etc., etc. </p></li>
<li><p>Things necessary to equip the bathroom: Dorm bathrooms come equipped with shower curtains, bathmats, soap dishes, and similar items. Apartment bathrooms often do not.</p></li>
<li><p>Cleaning supplies: In the dorm, your child likely had to keep only a bedroom clean, and bedrooms don't get all that dirty. Kitchens and bathrooms do, and your child will need the supplies to deal with the mess.</p></li>

<p>We give our D $1000 a semester for food, supplies and personal expenses. She uses her credit card for the occasional nice dine out with friends (about $100/mo). Granted she doesn't eat much ( 5'2"/98 pounds). She lives off campus with 2 roommates.</p>

<p>My D lives off campus in NYC, her grocery bill has averaged $175 p/m. That doesn't include cleaning supplies, laundry supplies or personal hygiene. Those have averaged $45 p/m. She is very frugal, vegetarian, and shops the $1 store quite a bit. She says she hasn't eaten out since I visited 6 weeks ago. She doesn't live on ramen or pasta. She treats herself to Starbuck's once a week. </p>

<p>Now if we could just figure out how to lower the rent!</p>

<p>"Your figure of $2934 PER SEMESTER just doesn't sound right to me."</p>

<p>sooziet - Trust me, it doesn't sound right to me either, but it is entirely accurate. Last semester it was $2,447 for a lesser meal plan that gave her 10 cafeteria meals per week and around $500 of dining dollars. She claims that the cafeteria food is "disgusting" and that she lived on things like cereal and sweet potatoes she baked in her microwave. She also said that she had over 70 cafeteria meals left unused at the end of the semester that did not roll over but were entirely wasted. She begged me to let her change this semester to the more expensive plan that consists entirely of dining dollars. I went back and forth about it (her father was 100% in the "suck it up" school). Finally, she and I agreed that she could get the expensive plan and we would split the difference by deducting $50 per month from her allowance. It makes me cranky but I'm telling myself that it's a one semester deal and that she may eat more healthfully.</p>

<p>Sons off-campus meal plan is $600 a semester. That gives him approx one meal on campus a day. And this is at Cal which has supposedly one of the highest dorm/food costs around. So $2,447 does sound like a lot.
Other than that he is very frugal. We just give him money when he asks for it, which isn't very often. And when he is home we go for Costco runs and he raids the cupboard.</p>

<p>Our S lives on campus, but he has a full kitchen in his on campus "apt." He decided not to use a meal plan for several reasons: cafeteria too far across campus from where he lives, full kitchen in apt., etc. So we've given him $1500/semester, which comes to about $100/week. He uses that for groceries, toiletries, etc, and so far he's been doing fine. However, he's always quick to tell us that it's barely enough, as he was told by his youth pastor once to never fess up that it's "enough," unless you want to see your budget go down. </p>


<p>zebes, that's funny. Sounds about right though-- If it's "enough" that might mean there is extra money sitting around. And if there's "extra money" then it needs to be re-allocated ;)</p>