Rent prices across the United States average out at about $1,200 per month. Most of the time that is not including any utilities, cable or Internet access. It simply covers the cost of living in the apartment and whatever amenities the complex may have (pool, fitness center, computers and WiFi in the main building, etc.). That amount of money is almost always unaffordable when you are a single individual with other bills to pay as well as utilities and other household expenses to pay each month.
While searching for the perfect apartment, I stumbled upon a listing for a fully-furnished studio “apartment” in an Extended Stay America and, when I did the math, I found that the Extended Stay may actually be a better option than apartment living. Here is what I found:
Extended Stay America Prices and Perks
There are numerous Extended Stay locations throughout the U.S. One of the immediate perks of going with a furnished room at the Extended Stay is that you will not have any deposit. There is also no credit check and you do not have to sign a lease, you simply pay your monthly rent month-to-month.
The rent is all-inclusive. For $1,155 you get a fully-furnished studio apartment with a functional kitchen, cable, Internet access, pool and fitness center access as well as electricity, water, sewer and garbage services included. This is already below the national average for rent in the country, not to mention the huge amount of money you’ll be saving on utilities each month. Let’s take a look at the numbers:
- Average cost of rent in the U.S.: $1,200
- Average electricity bill in the U.S.: up to $100
- Average water bill in the U.S.: up to $50
- Average cost of gas in the U.S.: up to $150*
- Average monthly cost of cable: $99
- Average monthly cost of Internet: up to $45
*Not all apartments or homes have a gas bill. This is usually only a factor with gas stoves, gas water heaters, etc.
- Estimated total monthly cost for household bills: $1,644
When you stack these numbers up against what the Extended Stay is marketing as a furnished studio apartment, the savings are astronomical. Not only do you not have to purchase furniture for your apartment (potentially saving thousands of dollars) but you will also save up to $511 per month on your regular household bills, not to mention the added perk of free breakfast at most Extended Stay locations. You could also potentially save money on bills like your cell phone if you chose to use the Extended Stay’s phone for local calling instead of your phone.
If you plan on relocating often or you move around regularly for work, the Extended Stay is the perfect and most cost-effective option though. You won’t have to sign or break a lease and you won’t have to move your utilities or cancel them each time you move.
Although there are numerous perks to staying at an Extended Stay, there are also a number of cons.
Cons of Staying at the Extended Stay
The number one downside of staying at an Extended Stay (for me) would be the fact that it is, in fact, a hotel. You may not ever feel at home during your time there. In addition to the lack of personal touch, there are some potential financial downsides as well.
If you do not rent an apartment or home and choose to stay at an Extended Stay you will not be improving your credit. Most apartments and a majority of private owners report to credit bureaus when you make on-time payments (and when you don’t). By staying at an Extended Stay, you will not be able to reap the benefits of your on-time payments. You will also not reap the benefits of your on-time payments for your other utility bills (electric, water, etc.). Paying that money to the Extended Stay each month is practically like throwing money out the window without the added benefits on your credit score. Additionally, when you are ready to move out of the Extended Stay these things could affect your ability to move into an apartment and get utilities in your name.
When it comes down to it, your housing decisions will only affect you. Whether you decide to save the immediate hassle and the $500 or so each month and go with the Extended Stay or you get an apartment with all of the traditional bills, you need to make the decision that will best suite your needs.
Would you live at an Extended Stay location over an apartment?
Photo: Flickr: Mike Mozart
Amanda Blankenship is the Director of Social Media for District Media. In addition to her duties handling everything social media, she frequently writes for a handful of blogs and loves to share her own personal finance story with others. When she isn’t typing away at her desk, she enjoys spending time with her daughter, husband, and dog. During her free time, you’re likely to find her with her nose in a book, hiking, or playing RPG video games.