Let’s face it. The college budget is smaller than you would like it to be. Between tuition, rent, food, utilities, cable, and internet, the cost of living can be very high for a college student. That means that it would be worthwhile to make a detailed budget of all the expenses that you will face while living off-campus. The following section will provide you with basic information about budgeting. 

General budgeting tips

  • Don’t take on more than you can afford.
  • Develop a detailed budget
  • When planning your budget, take into account times during the year when spending might be higher, such as for air conditioning in the summer, heating in the winter and gifts during the holidays.
  • Consider carefully before using credit cards. If used responsibly, they are a great way to establish good credit. However, if you don’t pay the balance in full every month, there will be interest charged on any part that rolls over — and that can really add up quickly.
  • Know where your money goes.
  • Be aware of how you spend it. For instance, if you spend $4 per day on coffee, that adds up to $120 a month. Tracking how you spend your money will show where you can cut back.
  • Plan for major purchases far in advance.
  • Adjust your budget to build up savings so you don’t have to use credit for textbooks or other big expenses.
  • If you are living with roommates, make sure they are legally on the lease with you. Make sure that all the utilities aren’t just under your name.

Initial move-in costs

Move-in costs vary, but expect to pay the following before moving in:

  • First month’s rent
  • Last month’s rent
  • Security deposit
  • Application fee
  • Service fees to connect utilities (payable to utility companies)

Contact ASOSU Student Legal Services if you feel that you are being unfairly charged for initial move-in costs or additional, unexpected fees.

Utility costs

Utilities are generally not included with rental properties in Corvallis. The cost for utilities can vary based on many factors, including the type of unit and the age of the building.

Consider budgeting — at a minimum — $150 to $200 per month per person when living with roommates for power, gas, cable, internet, water and trash pick-up. When viewing a rental property, ask the current tenants what their average utility bills are per month. Although everyone has different usage patterns, this can at least give you an estimated cost for comparison. If you’re unable to ask the current tenants, try contacting the utility companies directly.

Fun on a budget

  • Visit the Arts Center across Central Park from the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library to see exhibitions by local artists or sign up for a community art class.
  • Catch some local theater, dance, improv or music at the Majestic Theatre downtown on Second Street.
  • Hike or mountain bike any of the extensive trails through McDonald-Dunn Forest, northwest of Corvallis. These trails can also be accessed via bordering northwest neighborhoods if you do not have a car.
  • Download the Corvallis and Benton County Bicycle Guide for a bike-friendly map.
  • Locally owned Darkside Cinema downtown on Fourth Street features independent films.
  • Check out the downtown farmers’ market at First and Jackson Street from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Wednesdays. The market is open from mid-April to Thanksgiving.
  • Catch the amazing views from Mary’s Peak, located 24 miles west of Corvallis via Highway 34. Visit toward the end of spring term to see wildflowers.
  • Catch the Coast-to-Valley Express to Newport on the Oregon Coast for $10 each way.
  • Check out the events calendar at visitcorvallis.com.


Next Skill: Live Responsibly