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Should You Buy or Rent for Grad School Housing?

Many undergraduate students live on campus. Some start renting off-campus when they become upperclassmen. But as you graduate and begin pursuing a higher level of education, you might need to think carefully about where you’re going to live. Is it better to buy or rent your housing as a grad student? We’ll explain the benefits of both options so you can decide.

Check out our student loan calculator.

The Pros of Owning a Home as a Graduate Student

Purchasing an apartment, condo or home can be a big investment, but it comes with its advantages. It might be worth considering especially if you plan to stick around after completing your education. You’ll likely be able to qualify for the mortgage interest deduction, which will help lower your income tax bill.

If you buy a house, you’ll also be able to enjoy being in a homey environment that reflects your own taste and style. You’ll have more control over your living situation and you could get roommates to help offset the cost of your mortgage.

If you’re worried about the financial risk that comes with buying a home, you can consider renting the space out during the summers or over other breaks. You can use your profits to cover your monthly mortgage payments and make small improvements to the home to boost your property value.

Find out now: How much house can I afford?

The Pros of Renting as a Graduate Student

Should You Buy or Rent for Grad School Housing?

Renting is a lot less risky than buying. You aren’t locked down if you rent and you can revisit the housing decision after your term is up. You can also choose to move if you need a change of scenery. Overall, you have less responsibility as well. If something breaks or goes wrong, you can call the landlord or property manager and have them resolve the issue.

Furthermore, rent payments are probably more affordable if your income is low or you’re not working at all. Buying a house requires you to pay for closing costs and make a down payment. You won’t have to sell your house when you finish grad school, or be constrained when it comes time to go on the job market.

How to Decide Whether to Buy or Rent as a Grad Student

Should You Buy or Rent for Grad School Housing?

It’s important to remember that you might not stay in the area where you attended grad school forever. That means that your housing isn’t necessarily something you want to invest in long term. In reality, both renting and owning are big financial responsibilities if you already have student loans.

Buying a home might make sense for certain individuals, but you probably won’t be making a fortune at this time in your life and you might want to use your funds elsewhere. On the flip side, if you buy a house and sell it for a hefty profit later on you’ll be well positioned financially.

Check out our student loan calculator.

Bottom Line

No matter how you decide to meet your grad school housing needs, it’s best to be honest about what works for you. Evaluating yourself, your budget, your environment and your future plans can help you make the right decision.

If you’re leaning towards buying, talk to a financial advisor first. You want to ensure buying a home fits in with your larger financial plan and long-term goals. A matching tool like SmartAsset’s SmartAdvisor can help you find a person to work with to meet your needs. First you’ll answer a series of questions about your situation and goals. Then the program will narrow down your options from thousands of advisors to three fiduciaries who suit your needs. You can then read their profiles to learn more about them, interview them on the phone or in person and choose who to work with in the future. This allows you to find a good fit while the program does much of the hard work for you.

Photo credit: © Debenport, ©, ©

Liz Smith Liz Smith is a graduate of New York University and has been passionate about helping people make better financial decisions since her college days. Liz has been writing for SmartAsset for more than four years. Her areas of expertise include retirement, credit cards and savings. She also focuses on all money issues for millennials. Liz's articles have been featured across the web, including on AOL Finance, Business Insider and WNBC. The biggest personal finance mistake she sees people making: not contributing to retirement early in their careers.
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