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How Much Does it Cost to Live near The Ohio State University?

By Bella

Deciding on your ideal apartment as an OSU student involves many considerations, but the most common question from students pertains to the overall cost of living. As an OSU student myself, I understand that the search for an apartment that fulfills all your requirements while staying within your budget can be very stressful.

Although one might expect a straightforward answer to this question, the reality is that the cost of living fluctuates often due to various factors.

Read Next: 5 Benefits of Signing an Individual Lease in Columbus

Living near The Ohio State University, monthly rental costs can span from under $900 to over $2,500 per person, per month, depending on numerous factors including location, the age of the building, and the type of unit.

Here at Rambler Columbus, we have full confidence that our range of floor plans can suit a diverse range of budgets. However, we also recognize that it is important to make informed housing choices. We have composed this article to help you understand how rent is computed in Columbus, the housing options available, and the components that impact pricing.

To help you better understand the cost of living for students near OSU, we have put together an ultimate guide, including:

three OSU students sitting on camous near the Ohio sign

How Much Does it Cost for OSU Students to Live in Columbus? 

How Student Housing Apartments Calculate Rental Rate

Understanding how to calculate rental rates is important for learning what the typical costs of renting in Columbus are.

In a house or conventional apartment, it’s not unusual for you and your roommates to collectively sign a lease for the entire unit. This entails a single lump-sum payment each month, and it is your joint responsibility to split the rent expense among yourselves.

As opposed to traditional apartment rates, purpose-built student housing apartments operate differently when it comes to lease terms and lease rates.

In purpose-built student housing, leases are not for the entire apartment but are instead per bed. Each roommate signs an individual lease for their specific room or bed within a room. Similar to traditional apartments, these individual lease agreements are spread across 12 equal monthly installments for a year-long commitment. Monthly payments are made throughout the lease term, and each roommate is individually accountable for their share of the lease. This way, you don’t have to worry about whether or not your roommates pay their individual leases.

When searching for student housing, it’s crucial to clarify whether the listed rental rate is per bed (individual leases) or for the entire apartment or house (traditional leases).

Read Next: Student vs. Traditional Apartments at OSU: Which is Right for Me?

Understanding the required lease duration is equally important.

Purpose-built student housing typically involves a 12-month lease, with move-in dates usually in mid-August and move-out dates at the end of July. Some student housing apartments may offer early move-in options, typically starting in early August.

While this process is standard in most student housing complexes, there can be exceptions. Some apartments may be flexible and accommodate a six-month lease, beneficial for those planning an early graduation or studying abroad.

Read Next: 5 Benefits of Living in a New Student Apartment in Columbus Near OSU

On-campus housing leases, in contrast, commonly follow a nine-month contract aligned with the Fall and Spring semesters rather than a full year. On-campus housing closes between the Fall and Spring semesters, so you do not have the option to stay during Winter break.

Representative rendering of bedrooms at Rambler Columbus.

Representative rendering of bedrooms at Rambler Columbus.

Factors That Affect the Price of Monthly Rental Rates

OSU students have a plethora of choices when it comes to selecting their housing for the academic year. The majority are in search of accommodations where they can live with their friends and offer a convenient commute to class. Among undergraduate students at OSU, the most sought-after types of housing include:

Read Next: Top 5 Best Pool Decks at Apartments Near Ohio State University 

1. Housing Type

Residence Halls/Dorms
3 girls in a dorm room at ohio statePhoto courtesy of The Ohio State University

OSU requires all first-year and second-year students to live in the dorms, formally known as residence halls.

Residence halls are convenient for walking to class, making friends, and keeping up-to-date with campus events. OSU has 41 residence halls to choose from with a range of traditional and suite floorplans.

All dorms have access to the OSU bus system, Wi-Fi, laundry and mail. Most dorms offer study rooms, lounges and communal kitchens.

Dorm rates range from $3,815 to $4,899 per semester, depending on factors including location, room type and amenities. OSU students live in dorms for nine months at a time, which lines up with the academic year. So, if you are planning on living in a dorm you should expect to pay $7,630 to $9,798 per year, or about $847 to $1,088 per month.

These dorm rates do not include a meal plan and students must select which option to add depending on what works best for them. Meal plans at Ohio State range from $2,237 to $2,730 per semester. OSU Dining Services has a six-step process to help you decide which plan is best for you.

Some undergraduate students choose to live in the residence halls as a resident advisor, meaning you will be managing the freshmen and sophomores living in your hall. This is a paid job in which you will live in a dorm for free.

OSU closes most dorms for holiday breaks, so it is important to check with your dorm before signing a contract if you need housing during these times.

Greek Houses
Picture of Greek Houses at OSUPhoto courtesy of The Lantern

Sorority and fraternity houses are located around OSU’s campus, mostly in the University District/Central Campus area. These houses are close to campus and are on the OSU bus routes, so going to class is an easy walk or ride. The houses are large and can house around 50 residents each.

Housing in Greek organizations is generally reserved for second-year members, with limited space available per house. While some houses mandate their executive board to live in, this choice rests with the individual chapter. Those engaged within their organization often opt to live in the house to stay in close proximity to friends and activities. Eligibility to live-in varies among each sorority or fraternity, but many prioritize GPA and active participation in chapter events.

Members living in the house pay for rent, dues, fees, and meal plans. The cost of living in a sorority house at OSU per semester varies depending on the sorority. The average cost is around $3,000 to $6,000 per semester, but can even fall outside of this range. Keep in mind that this price includes sorority dues and meals for the semester, so this will not be an additional cost.

Most Greek houses are owned by their organization but choose to follow the same schedule as residence halls. This means that most homes are closed for the holidays and summer. Some houses are owned by the organization and implement their own schedule, which is why you may see fraternities remain open over the summer.

Student Housing Apartments
Outside rendering of Rambler Columbus

The most popular housing choice among OSU students are student housing apartments. There is a wide selection of apartments, each with their own unique advantages, situated around the campus, making them conveniently close to classes.

These apartments provide individual leases lasting for a year, placing sole responsibility on you for your rent, room, and shared spaces within the apartment. Additionally, many of these apartments allow the option to sublease or relet your room during the summer (or semester) if you won’t be in Columbus and prefer not to pay the cost for those months.

Read Next: 7 Best Student Apartments in Columbus, Ohio near OSU

If you are uncertain about your prospective roommates for the upcoming year, many apartment leasing offices provide roommate-matching services to alleviate the stress associated with this choice. This is particularly beneficial for transfer students or individuals wanting to make more friends.

Read Next: How to Find a College Roommate at Ohio State

Designed to cater to the student lifestyle, student housing apartments are upscale and come with additional amenities such as a gym, golf simulator, pool deck, game room, and more.

Off-campus student apartments close to OSU vary in price, typically ranging from around $900 to $2,500 per person, per month, depending on factors such as location, size, number of bedrooms, and number of bathrooms.

Traditional Apartments
Traditional Apartments in Columbus Ohio called University Village
Photo courtesy of University Village

If you’re seeking apartment living without a strong preference for the modern amenities and contemporary design featured in student apartments, traditional apartments could be the right choice. Unlike student housing options, these apartments generally lack elaborate luxury amenities and often provide a modest amenity package at best.

Traditional apartments are dispersed across Columbus, and their monthly rates vary, typically falling within the range of $913 to $1,421 per person, per month, influenced by factors such as amenities, location, and floor plan. Typically, these apartments offer traditional leases for you and your roommates, not individual leases.

Read Next: 15 Questions To Ask When Touring a Student Apartment in Columbus, Ohio

Traditional Houses
3 houses in a row in the off-campus district near Ohio State's CampusPhoto courtesy of The Lantern

The fifth and last housing option covered in this article is traditional houses. These houses are a preferred choice for upperclassmen who wish to live with their friends in a more secluded setting.

Situated in the neighborhoods around OSU campus, these houses commonly provide one- or two-year lease options. Typically unfurnished and lacking the amenities found in many Columbus apartments, these houses usually have monthly rates ranging from $650 to $950 per person, per month.

3. Floorplans

Once you’ve learned about all of the various housing options and their lease details, the next factor to consider is the floorplan.

Floorplans featuring more bedrooms generally offer a lower cost per person compared to one- or two-bedroom apartments. This is because of the shared common areas. In such cases, the cost is divided among a greater number of individuals, potentially reducing the cost per person.

Additionally, residences with shared bedrooms and/or bathrooms tend to be more budget-friendly, whereas those with individual bedrooms and/or bathrooms are typically associated with higher costs.

4. Building Age

The age of a building is a significant factor influencing rental prices. Generally, as a building ages, the cost of rent tends to decrease. This trend is observable in various housing types such as student housing apartments, traditional apartments, Greek houses, and conventional houses.

However, when considering residence halls owned by the University, this is not always the same. The impact of building age on pricing is relatively minor, and the pricing pattern aligns more closely with tuition increases. Tuition tends to see slight annual increments due to factors like inflation and other considerations.

The age of a building is often linked to the amenities it offers. New developments are more likely to boast luxurious, modern amenities, while older complexes typically have smaller amenity packages with fewer features.

 5. Unit/Room Features

Outside of floor plans and amenities, it is important to consider the features of the individual unit you will be leasing. The following are additional factors that may impact your overall cost:

  • Is your unit furnished?
  • Does the unit have a balcony?
  • Do you have your own bathroom?
  • Is your bathroom attached to your bedroom?
  • Do you have windows in your bedroom?
  • Do you have an in-unit washer/dryer?
  • What floor are you on? Are you on a quieter floor? One with better views?

If any of the answers to these questions is “yes,” you can expect to see a higher rental rate.

Other Fees to Consider On Top of Monthly Rental Rate

1. Parking/Transportation

Living further from campus is undoubtedly more budget-friendly than living by campus, but it’s crucial to factor in expenses like parking, transportation, and overall living quality.

Securing on-campus parking at OSU. Applications for on-campus student parking permits in garages run from August 1st to July 31st, with costs ranging from $384 to $1,025 per year depending on the lot’s location. Given the high demand for student parking spaces, not everyone is guaranteed a spot, so it’s essential to weigh this consideration when choosing your housing in Columbus.

Read Next: What Types of Housing Are Available for OSU Students?

OSU and Columbus Transit provide “complimentary” transportation services for students. Included in their tuition, each student contributes to a transportation fee covering the use of OSU buses. Ohio State buses offer numerous routes, extending to the Short North and Downtown, ensuring convenient access to various locations.

2. Utilities

For many students, this will be their first time taking on the responsibility of paying rent and utilities. Utilities include electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage, and some places (like apartment buildings) include a cost for Wi-Fi and/or cable. Your utility bill will depend on a number of factors including time of year, number of roommates, Wi-Fi routers, how frequently the washing machine and dishwasher are used, and more. Dorms and Greek Houses include utilities in the total amount to be paid per semester.

3. Additional Costs

When budgeting, it’s also important to consider the costs associated with living that are not included in your rent. These additional costs may include:

  • Rental Insurance
  • Trash
  • Moving fees
  • Wi-Fi
  • Cable TV
  • Pet Fees
  • Technology Packages
  • Security Deposit

These expenses can have a notable impact on your budget, it’s important to be aware of all these costs before signing a lease.

Read Next: 9 Additional Costs to Consider When Looking for an Apartment Near OSU

Two girls looking at computer on ohio states campus

We hope that this article has helped you to better understand how much it costs near OSU, and what housing option might be right for you.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about Rambler, please contact our leasing staff or visit our website. We are more than happy to help in your search for housing!


Bella is the Leasing & Marketing Team Leader at Rambler Columbus. She graduated from Northern Kentucky University. She is a lover of concerts and iced matcha lattes from Daydreamer!

March 21, 2024


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