Students face rising living costs

Jenn Tran

According to RENTCafé’s annual comprehensive analysis of the rental market, the 2017 Apartment Market Report shows that as far as the increase and decrease in rental costs go, out of the 250 largest cities in the US, the smaller cities had the most significant changes.

Despite a 2 percent monthly decrease, Seattle is not on the list of rental markets that are slowing down anytime soon. The market saw a 4.8 percent year-to-year increase, which raised living costs closer to the $2,000 monthly threshold.
Of all the cities in Washington state, the most significant year-to-year cost increase was in the Tacoma area: a 5.8 percent jump.

As residences moved farther up north and closer to Seattle, the costs significantly rose.

Kent had a similar jump of 5.7 percent. However, the average rent is higher than it is in Tacoma, which is at a $1,380 average, while the average cost of rent in Renton is approximately $1,570.

Although Bellevue had the least significant increase at 1 percent, it remains to be the most expensive city to reside in, at an average of $2,058 a month. Seattle, coming in at a close second place, costs approximately $1,971 monthly.
SPU seniors Kristina Hamilton, Hailey Williams and Natalie McConnell speak upon their experiences as students not native to Seattle and living in this costly city.

Both originating from Portland, Oregon, Williams and McConnell agree that although they knew it would not be cheap living in Seattle, the general cost was more than either had anticipated.

“The cost of living here is anything but reasonable. It is a hard transition,” Williams said.

Williams has been a student at SPU for nearly four years. She lived in Moyer Hall her first year and in the Wesley apartments her second and third year, this year being her first off campus.

“I wanted to live off campus for a bit more freedom and to start adjusting to realistic living expenses. The dorms were too expensive with the meal plan. The apartments were more reasonable, but still out of the range of what I wanted to pay for cost of living,” Williams said.

She also states that the cost of parking was “so high and not as accommodating,” and emphasizes on the fact she wanted more freedom.

“I wanted to allow myself a smoother transition for post-grad. I didn’t want to all of a sudden have to pile on expenses that I was unaware of,” she added.

Williams currently resides in a small house within walking distance of campus with four other people, and pends a little less than $500 a month for rent alone.
She goes back and forth between whether or not residing in Seattle is worth the cost. Although she has enjoyed her time here, exploring the city has been limited due to “heavy school work and workload over the past three years.”

Currently, she intends on relocating to Los Angeles, California this upcoming fall.
McConnell’s decision to reside off campus was made last minute due to SPU’s costly price for residency. She initially planned on living in Moyer Hall where she had lived last year.

“I found out I was going to have to pay more than $2,000 a month to go to SPU. And since I can’t come even close to being able to pay that, I had to consider my options. I nearly could not come back to SPU,” she said

She thanks her pastor and his family for offering her a place to stay in their home at a significantly lower cost than SPU. She immediately withdrew from housing and has been able to continue her education here because of their gracious offer.

McConnell emphasizes that although she doesn’t mind rules or regulations, it has been pleasant to live under her own rules and to have a quiet space to go to that is about 20 minutes away from campus.

“There are good and bad things about both, I would say. But it was 100 percent the cost of room and board that weighed into my decision,” she adds
McConnell spends $400 a month for a single room in a five bedroom, two bathroom house, complete with a yard, kitchen and dining room.

Although she spends significantly less than the majority of Seattle residents, she says finances still have a toll on her as a student in her day-to-day life.

“I still have to pay for tuition on top of my rent, so I am still struggling, but honestly, if I had to pay much more than I am paying now on top of tuition, it would not be worth it because it would amount to about the same as that $2,000 a month that forced me to live off campus,” she said. “I still have to consider things like groceries, gas money, oil changes, etc.”

She saves approximately $1,000 a month by living off campus, and notes that she enjoys it as well.

“I like coming to a place to sleep that isn’t school. It is a nice break from everything,” she said, but she also finds that waking up extra early for classes, cooking and grocery shopping can be a lot of extra work and takes a toll on her at times.

Hamilton, from Kailua Kona, Hawaii, only thought of the cost of living in terms of residence life before relocating to Seattle in 2014.

“I thought it was expensive but just assumed it was a college thing. Now that I’m living off campus and have more of a concept of the cost of living out here, I think it’s ridiculous. Definitely more than I thought it would be,” she explained.
Hamilton lived in Moyer Hall her first year, Hill Hall her sophomore year, and Davis Apartments her junior year, this year being her first year off campus, the contributors being the financial aspect and social aspect, but primarily financial. By living off campus, Hamilton saves at least $200 every month.

“I also appreciate the freedom that comes with living off campus and find that it’s nice to have a life that doesn’t solely exist within the ‘SPU bubble,’” she adds. “Living on campus was definitely a good experience though!”

Hamilton resides in an apartment five minutes away from campus that includes five bedrooms, two bathrooms, and eight people for $570 a month including utilities.

“It’s crazy to think that there are eight of us in a small apartment and we’re still paying so much for rent,” she notes.

Hamilton says being a student at SPU is the only reason she maintains residency in Seattle; she prefers not to commute.

“For the most part, I think Seattle is a rad place to live, especially as a student, but the cost of living would be much cheaper if I lived on the outskirts of Seattle,” she says.

As for her future plans, Hamilton ideally is looking for a place where the costs are lower for the same or more space. She has hopes of moving down to Oregon, specifically just outside of Portland.

“While I have enjoyed my time living here in Seattle, I love the idea of living in a new place that’s completely unfamiliar, and I think there’s no better time than post graduation to do that,” she said.