Pile up Money Working as a University Head Resident

Kate Carleton talks about her job as head resident of a university dorm and how living free on campus allows her to save money towards moving to the country.

| September/October 1971

If you're looking for a pleasant way to pile up money for that big move to the country, you might try heading for a university. Seriously. Don't enroll, don't join the staff . . . just live there. My husband and I are doing exactly that right now and saving more money than seems possible. The trick is simple . . . we're head residents in a dorm.

Don't shudder. The old lady housemother who locks doors and plays parent is fast disappearing. At today's up-to-date schools, head residents are generally young people in their twenties, either married or single. Some are otherwise unconnected with the university, some work there, some are former students back to complete their undergraduate work and some are graduate students.

Jon and I are in our late twenties and our only connection with the university where we live is our position there as head residents. During the nine-month school year, our responsibilities are relatively few and we have plenty of time to hold down other jobs. The rest of the time—summer and shorter vacations—we're free to stay in university housing or to take off . . . as we choose.

We live in a fully furnished modern apartment with an entrance hall, dining room-living room, kitchenette, hallway, large bedroom, full bath and plenty of closet space. Our windows look out on a large tree-shaded yard, and we have a beautiful view down the back to the river. In the suburbs, this apartment would probably rent for at least $110 a month and—in the city—it would easily go (with the parking space) for $150. Instead of paying any rent, however, we are BEING PAID $400 a year by the university to live here. Nor do we pay for any utilities except our private phone (which is a luxury since we already have a free college phone in the apartment). Throughout the school year, we also get food in the dining commons and once-a-week maid service . . . all free, of course!

Last year—our first—we figured we saved at least $1500 on rent, $400 on heat and utilities and over $700 on food. So, by living here on campus for two years, we'll save an easy $5000 on living expenses . . . and that $5000 will go directly into our back-to-the-land bank account over and above what we regularly save from our salaries. 

In many other ways, living on campus costs less, too. Students periodically have their own sales—especially at the end of the term or school year—where clothes, records, used books, bikes and furniture can all be bought cheaply.

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