Florida State University Cost of Living Guide
RentTally’s mission is to help renters find their dream apartments that fit both their lifestyle and budget. When creating the Cost of Living Guide, we thought about the step before a renter finds their perfect Tally apartment: deciding whether to move. Moving to a new place is a big area of stress for some people, especially when it comes to finances. Luckily for you, our team has created a comprehensive cost of living guide to help you gauge how much money you could truly be spending in Tallahassee.
RentTally partners with more than 60 apartment communities in the area to provide a complete apartment search with up-to-date pricing, specials, and details. In the last 12-months, we helped more than 94,000 unique users connect with apartments in Tallahassee that fit their lifestyle and budget. We teamed up with Tallahassee locals to create the most comprehensive cost-of-living guide on the web. Whether you are a prospective FSU student deciding where you want to live or a retiree ready to make Tallahassee your home, this guide is for you!
Monthly Recurring Expenses
For most Tallahassee residents, monthly recurring expenses make up the large majority of their cost of living. Monthly rent in Tallahassee can vary based on floorplan, distance to campus, and square footage. Apartments within walking distance to Tallahassee campuses can range much higher than options further away, so deciding if you’d like to walk or drive to class is very important. Similarly, apartments with higher square footage tend to cost more. Is more space worth the splurge?
We analyzed hundreds of floor plans and found that the average monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Tallahassee is $1,040/month. For a 2-bedroom, it’s $828/room. For a 3-bedroom, it’s $680/room. And for a 4-bedroom, it’s $576/room. For a furnished apartment, you might be charged for an additional furniture package, which can range from $25-$40/month.
We asked a current FSU student about her monthly rent. Anna, a senior, lives 3.5 miles from campus and has a car to get her back and forth. The ride to campus doesn’t bother her, and she often uses the bus station outside her complex. She lives in a 4x4 townhouse with friendly roommates and two dogs. Anna chose the complex for its dog park and resort-style pool. They each pay $659 a month in rent. For easy move-in, they each opted for the furniture package, which is another $35 per month and provides couches, desks, bed frames, and dresser.
It's important to know that you are in control of your monthly fees. Decide which amenities are important to you and narrow your search with a budget in mind. Do you want a newly updated kitchen? Is access to study rooms important to you? How about a private vs. shared bathroom? Don’t forget about extra fees that might not be included in rent, like utilities, parking, and pet rent. In Tallahassee, there’s something for everyone. We’re confident that you’ll find the right apartment for you! We hope this guide helps in giving you expectations for your next living experience so that it fits your lifestyle and budget. Ready to do more research? Try a few of these pages to help you get started:
Furnished Apartments in Tallahassee
Apartments within Walking Distance to FSU
All-inclusive Apartments near FSU
Utilities in Tallahassee
Utilities can be included with rent but are often separate charges that should be considered when evaluating the cost of living for FSU students. Utilities include electricity, natural gas, water, sewage, trash, and recycling. A complex could be all-inclusive or it might only include sewage and trash in the rent but ask you to pay the water and electricity bill. Interested in an apartment? Ask which utilities they charge for so you can compare that with the rent and other monthly charges.
We asked four current students about their monthly utility bills and got an average of $56 a month. Here is a quick breakdown of the utility costs:
- Olivia lives in a four-bedroom apartment with her friends and averages $40/month.
- Cami lives in a four-bedroom townhouse with her sorority sisters and averages $60/ month, but up to $10 more per roommate in the hot months when they’re using air conditioning.
- Rachel lives in a two-bedroom apartment and averages $80/month.
- Kelly lives in a two-bedroom apartment with set charges, meaning the monthly price stays the same whether or not she goes over or under the actual charge. She pays $45 every month.
Parking Near FSU
Parking can come in the form of a parking pass, allowing you to park anywhere in the complex, or a designated parking spot, reserved just for you. Apartment complexes typically rent designated parking spaces, which can range from $40-$80/month, while townhouse apartments often offer parking passes, ranging from free to $40/month.
Some communities offer covered parking in a parking garage, which tends to be more expensive than uncovered. Visitor’s parking is free in marked spots.
We asked three current students how much they pay for parking.
- Cami lives in a townhouse and pays $40/month for a designated parking space.
- Parker lives in an apartment complex and pays $55/month for covered parking.
- Anna lives in a townhouse and received a free parking pass for anywhere in the complex.
Are you coming to college with a furry friend? For pet friendly housing options, fees can vary. There may be a pet deposit that you can get back at the end of the year, or a pet fee, which is non-refundable. Some apartments have a one-time pet fee, ranging from $150-$300, while others have monthly pet rent, which can range from $40/pet. You may also be asked to pay both a one-time fee and the monthly pet rent. For example, an apartment could charge you $200 at the beginning of the year, and $15/month. Our pets are important members of the household, but come with fees of their own. Don’t forget to factor them into your budget when looking at housing options.
Entertainment at FSU
Who doesn’t love watching a football game? On game day, Tallahassee lights up with activities all over the city! If you’re currently a student at Florida State University then you won’t need to worry about the cost of football tickets. Student tickets are free but as I’ve uncovered over the years you will find that they sell out quickly. If you’re one of the unlucky individuals who misses the original sale of tickets, tickets are commonly resold on StubHub and purchased through there. Depending on the importance of the game, prices may vary. For less important games, ticket prices can range from as low as $49 to over $200, depending on the section you are looking to purchase in. On average, ticket prices are around $113 for the more minor games. When Florida State is playing a rival, for example the University of Florida, ticket prices tend to spike. I suggest getting your tickets as early for possible for these games! Resell tickets for large games range from $180 to around $300 for Top Deck seating, $350 to $475 for Middle Sideline seating, and $380 to $850 for Lower Sideline seating.
For avid Seminoles fans, Florida State offers the option to purchase season tickets. Season tickets are in the main section seating, including sections 8-39, and are a one-time purchase to reserve the same seat location for every home game. Check out apartments near the Doak Campbell Stadium to stay close to the action.
These packages are perfect for individuals with families who are interested in attending multiple games throughout the season. Ticket prices vary from $250-$350/seat, depending on location. Per seat contributions and Booster membership are $35 in the end zone and then increase by location, reaching a price of $500 on the west side at midfield. All in all, season tickets range from $330-$850 when you take into consideration the required per seat contribution.
We asked 3 current students their go-to place for shopping in Tallahassee and Elise, Cameron, and Katie all stated Governor’s Square Mall. Governor’s Square is the perfect one-stop shop for all of your retail needs! There are a variety of shopping options in the $ to $$ price range. Some of Elise’s favorite options for shopping in the lower price range ($) include Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, Rue 21, and H&M. A few of Katie and Cameron's more expensive, yet still moderate, shopping includes stores such as The Copper Closet, Loft, Macy’s, and Express. These stores are the perfect place to check out on the days you can’t seem to find anything to wear! Although there are no stand-alone high-end, designer stores ($$$) in Governor’s Square Mall, you can still find designer pieces in department stores, such as Macy’s and JCPenney. If you're a certified shopaholic, check out apartments near Governor's Square Mall.
Average Door Cover
Going out in Tallahassee tends to include a door cover prior to food/drink charges once inside. Looking at 3 of the most popular bars in Tallahassee, and for individuals over the age of 21, the average cost of entry is around $6. My sister, who currently resides in New York City was shocked by how inexpensive the cost of door cover is. Door cover in New York City averaged to be around $25, demonstrating that Tallahassee is the perfect place for college students going out on a budget. For individuals under the age of 21, the average cost is $13. Differences in price can be contributed to the amount bars estimate you will spend once inside. For those over 21, you are able to purchase drinks (and at some places food) indoors, making your immediate entry cost less expensive than those who are not.
If you are looking for places with free entry, Tallahassee also has a variety of options that do not require you to pay any upfront costs. If you are over the age of 21, some local spots that are free entry are Township, Madison Social, Coosh’s Bayou Rouge, Centrale, Brass Tap, and others. These places are perfect for individuals who are looking to sit down and enjoy a meal along with drinks.
We took a look at the three most popular movie theaters in Tallahassee to uncover the average price of a movie ticket. Adult movie tickets average out to be $11.88 for Tallahassee theaters. One of my favorite local movie theaters is the AMC Tallahassee because it is equipped with reclined seats for extra comfort! In addition to adult tickets, all theaters offer discounted tickets for Children (ages 2-12) and Seniors (ages 60+), averaging out to be around $8.50 for a ticket.
If you are interested in attending a live theatre performance, Tallahassee has the perfect venue for you. At the Theatre Tallahassee, it costs $25 for an Adult ticket. However, if you are currently a student, you can get a discounted price of $15/ticket.
Finally, we took a look at concerts in Tallahassee. Live music shows are exciting and Tallahassee offers a variety of venues and performers for individuals in town to attend. At the Capital City Amphitheater, ticket prices can range from $49-$99 for general admission seats. Prices for reserved seating tend to get more expensive, averaging in the $190-$284 range. At venues that offer only general admission, such as Potbelly’s in Collegetown, prices are broken down by tiers. Tier 1 tickets to live music shows here are around $35-$40 and then increase in increments of $10 once sold out. The final tier at this venue has ticket prices for $65-$70. Florida State University also brings popular musicians, actors, and politicians to campus during Homecoming week that you can meet or watch preform. Tickets during Homecoming week are about $10 a ticket on average.
Average Price of a Drink
When the weekend rolls around, it's time for students to put their textbooks away and get together with friends! Average price of a drink can be a useful consideration when evaluating the cost of living in Tallahassee, because it can be easily compared between cities. Whatever your price range, there is a place for drinks in town that will fit in your college budget! For individuals looking for quick, cheaper beverages ($), look no further than to places such as Brick Haus, Clydes & Costellos, Cancun’s Sports Bar, and Los Compadres. You are guaranteed to find some of your fellow Noles at these spots. At these restaurants/bars, drinks average out to be $4-$6, not including any Happy Hour/Specials. A step up from these places ($$) include restaurants like Brass Tap, The Edison, Tin Lizzy’s Cantina, and Madison Social. At these places, the average price of a drink falls in the $7-$9 range. If you’re looking for more upscale, swanky cocktails ($$$), then Il Lusso, Table 23, Over Under, and Level 8 Lounge are the places for you. At these finer establishments, the average price of drinks is in the $11-$15 range. Even at the finest restaurants in town, in comparison to other cities, Tallahassee does not have outrageous prices on drinks. Also, there are always specials and happy hour deals, making it that much cheaper to go out and enjoy your weekend!
FSU Semester Startup Expenses
One of the first purchases you will have to make at the start of a semester is on textbooks. This tends to be a larger expense and prices will vary from class to class. Whether you decide to purchase or rent, there are a few different options.
Students have the ability to purchase directly through the Florida State Bookstore. Through the FSU Bookstore site, students can easily find any textbook they need and then pick it up on-campus. The most expensive option for students is to buy a brand new textbook. However, you also have the options to rent (new, used, or digital) books, or buy used ones. The bookstore is the most convenient option for students, but it does not always offer the best prices. If you decide to purchase or rent through the bookstore, make sure to price check with outside sources, such as Chegg or Amazon, because in-store purchases can always be price matched.
Follett Access is a program through the FSU bookstore that enables colleges to deliver all course materials digitally to students. Through this program, all expenses for textbooks, supplies, etc. are automatically billed as part of tuition and fees. This option guarantees students will have the materials needed on their first day of class, stress-free and effortlessly.
Deferred Payment Programs
FSU has a Deferred Payment Program that enables students to purchase books and materials needed through their student account prior to financial aid awards, such as Bright Futures, are distributed. Then, once aid has been released, the charges are deducted from your account.
If you’re on the hunt for more affordable options, join FSU facebook groups to find books from students who previously took the course and are reselling the material. This can be a quick way for students to find the books they need for a fraction of the cost! Also, sites like Amazon, Chegg, and BetterWorldBooks, are more great places to find textbooks. Throughout my past semesters, I have always found the most success in renting used textbooks off of Amazon. College is expensive enough as is, to maximize your savings be sure to search the internet to find the best bang for your buck.
ProSearch for a PDF version of your book online before making any purchases.
School Supplies for FSU Students
Depending on your major, the school supplied required will vary. Regardless, students should expect to spend a minimum of $20 each semester on notebooks, planners, pens, papers, and other class necessities.
In today’s world, having a reliable laptop is essential for college. Depending on brand, student laptops will range from $700-$1,200. Most tech companies know this is a large purchase, so some offer Education discounts for current students, parents, and faculty/staff to provide some relief. I purchased my MacBook Air for $899 through the Apple Store’s Education Pricing section and it has lasted me 4 years so far! Be sure to check the laptop requirements for your specific college, as some schools require certain brands. For example, the College of Engineering recommends a Dell computer for students to run different softwares and programs.
Printing is a recurring expense that university students will come across throughout their time at FSU. There are 16 different on-campus locations that offer printing to students. Strozier Library is the most common and recognized spot. It costs 10¢ per page for black & white copies and 25¢ per page for color. You can save 1¢ if you opt to print double-sided pages. FSUCash is the only accepted payment for campus printing in copying. Load your card up ahead of time so you don’t run into any problems once you’re there.
It is not uncommon for students to purchase study aids for their more rigorous classes. Sites like Chegg Study and Course Hero are popular options for students who want the extra resource to study.
- Chegg Study is $14.95/month
- Course Hero has three membership options, ranging from $9.95/month to $39.95/month.
Skoolers Tutoring is another great resource for students taking difficult science and math classes. Their services are located close to campus and will help you get through the semester with ease. Skoolers Tutoring pairs with professors at FSU to provide you with study packets and resources needed to efficiently learn the material. This was one resource that I utilized for a few of my accounting and calculus classes and found it to be extremely helpful! The semester package is $250 and includes all chapter and exam reviews. If you choose to purchase packets by chapter, they are $15 per chapter, and by exam is $40 per exam, not including the final exam review which is $50.
Food in Tallahassee
I’m a real deal Nole foodie. After moving from Orlando 2 years ago, the initial move was difficult for me. However, I found myself becoming more comfortable in Tallahassee after exploring different areas and finding cool restaurants that my friends and I could go to. So, if anyone knows something about food in Tallahassee- it's me.
Let’s start off with the necessities: groceries. Grocery prices in Tallahassee are considerably average for Florida. The differing prices between food products are totally dependent on the grocery store you choose to shop at. To give you an estimate of each grocery store’s price points, here’s a list:
- $ : Trade Joe’s, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Aldi, Winn-Dixie
- $$ : Publix, Fresh Market, Target
- $$$ : GreenWise, Whole Foods
My all-time favorite grocery store is Trader Joe’s. Eating healthy is a big priority of mine and I’ve found various organic options at Trader Joe’s cheaper than equivalent products at stores such as Whole Foods.
Pro tip: If you are looking for good recipes, don’t forget to grab the “Fearless Flyer” at the front door for a magazine full of recipes and seasonal products!
We surveyed 5 apartment-residing FSU students to get their monthly budget on groceries. After averaging their results, we came to the conclusion that FSU students spent on $200/month on their groceries.
We also surveyed 5 dorm-residing FSU students to get their monthly spending on groceries. Due to the fact that these students utilize the Dining Halls on campus, they spend about half of what an apartment residing student does, so $100/month. However, 4 / 5 students have the “200 Your Way” meal plan which costs $1,748/year. The fifth student has the “Open Access” meal plan which costs $2,198/year.
Overall, the amount you end up spending on groceries is completely dependent on the choices you make such as the grocery store you plan on shopping at and whether or not you decide to get a meal plan.
To get a good gauge of what you may be spending grocery money on, considering reading our grocery shopping list for a bit of clarity!
I love eating out and trying new restaurants. Tallahassee definitely has a restaurant within everyone’s budget. I’ve found that because it’s a college town there are some great deals. Tallahassee offers over 200 restaurants for you to choose fro to satisfy any of your cravings.
Breakfast / Coffee
Because Florida State University students occupy a large percentage of Tallahassee’s population, there is a wide selection of coffee shops. The competition for coffee shops keeps the prices at around the same $4 - $5 range for a medium sized cup.
- $ : Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds
- $$ : Starbucks, Lucky Goat, Red Eye, Black Dog Café, Catalina Café
I personally love Lucky Goat Coffee. They roast their coffee right here in Tallahassee and by shopping locally I feel like I am giving back to my community.
There are a myriad of lunch selections in Tallahassee. College students typically opt for lunch food chains such as Chipotle or Chick-fil-A whereas permanent residents go to more local places like The Edison.
- $ : Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, Jimmy John’s
- $$ : Chipotle, Bento, Zoe’s Kitchen, 4 Rivers
- $$$ : The Edison, Madison Social, Jeri’s Midtown Café
My favorite lunch deal is $5 Sushi at Publix’s Greenwise Market every Wednesday!
Dinner in Tallahassee has a substantial price gap depending on the restaurant you choose to go to.
- $ : Kebabas Mediterranean Grill, Voodoo Dog
- $$ : Madison Social, Harry’s Seafood, Tin Lizzy’s, Masa
- $$$ : Sage Restaurant, Table 23, The Melting Pot, 347 Grille, The Edison
I always like a good deal, so you’ll find me at Kebabas Mediterranean Grill weekly! They give you a big plate and I can often eat half of it for dinner and save the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Transportation Near FSU
As a college student, you are always thinking about getting from one place to the next. Some thoughts throughout the day could be: “I need to be in class by 8:00 am,” “I told Ally I would meet her for lunch at 2:00 pm,” “I need to get to sorority chapter by 7:00 pm,” etc. It is important to have reliable transportation because arriving at the places you need on time is crucial.
Luckily, there are numerous transportation options around and I consider myself to be an expert on traversing Tallahassee. I have utilized all transportation options in Tallahassee and analyzed the pro’s and con’s for each of them. You may even consider seeking out apartments within walking distance of the FSU campus for the old fashion way of getting around. This section will help you decide the best transportation option for your lifestyle.
Having a car in Tallahassee is the most common, and convenient, option for transportation. However, utilizing a car to navigate Tallahassee comes with a few added expenses including gas, insurance, and parking. While these added expenses can increase monthly costs, a car does allow more freedom to explore Tallahassee and even visit your hometown if you wanted to.
Gas prices in Tallahassee are standard for Florida with the average price of gas typically less than $2.90/gallon. You should allocate about $20-$50 to fill up your tank on a bi-weekly basis. It is important to recognize that gas expenses are completely dependent upon both the fuel efficiency and frequency of use of your car. According to gasbuddy.com, an app dedicated to showing you the cheapest gas stations around you, the Circle K on Jackson Bluff Rd and Shell on Monroe Street are the cheapest around the FSU area.
Parking in Tallahassee can be a struggle. Some apartment complexes offer free parking while others charge upwards to $100/ month for a spot! Before you commit to a specific apartment community, make sure to get all the information about parking. We asked current FSU students about their parking costs.
- Olivia pays $20/month at her apartment complex- she does not have a specific parking spot but can park in any general parking spots in her apartment complex.
- Cameron pays $30/month for her apartment parking spot.
- Andy lives a bit further away from campus and has parking included in his rent.
If the parking rates at your apartment are too expensive or simply don't offer parking, on campus parking is your best option. To park on campus, you need a permit otherwise you will be towed or fined. If you need a parking permit, go to Florida State’s permit section on the Transportation and Parking Services site by August 15th. Parking for visitors may be purchased $5 daily or $65 a semester. Parking violations often cause cars to be towed (usually $100+) or tickets (usually $35). Parking off campus without permits are available, however spaces are rare. Make sure to check all parking signs before leaving your car to make sure you are not penalized.
It isn’t uncommon to see students bike to class at Florida State! Bikes have a one-time fee depending on whether you buy it new or used. The average bike should cost you anywhere from $80 - $250. There are bike racks dispersed all throughout campus. It is important to note that bike theft is common in Tallahassee, so if you buy a bike, consider investing money on a good bike lock. The average price for a quality bike lock is $25 but the added safety is a long-term benefit.
The Seminole Express and Nite Nole
The bus on campus is free to all FSU students with a valid FSUCard! The Seminole Express busses students around campus until 8:00 pm, then the Nite Nole takes over and provides late night transportation until 11:00 pm every day. They provide transportation all around campus. Check out apartments near the Seminole Express. To see these bus routes, download the TransLoc app by visiting the Star Metro website.
You can also travel with StarMetro buses throughout the greater Tallahassee area for free with a valid FSUCard. You can look over the bus routes by visiting the Star Metro website.
Uber / Lyft
Many students utilize Uber/Lyft due to its convenience. The base fair for an UberX is $2.55 for 4 passengers and $3.85 for an UberXL (6 passengers). Additional charges are added for distance and the time of day. The price increases, especially at night in Tallahassee. On Friday’s and Saturday’s it is common that it will be $8-$9.
Paying for ride services on apps like Lyft or Uber can get expensive, especially if you are planning on going out at night when the prices get more expensive. FSU came up with a solution: Nole Cab! This service offers a discounted rate with a valid FSUCard and will bring you anywhere in Tallahassee. The Nole Cab operates from Saturday to Thursday from 10 pm – 4 am and Friday from 6 pm – 4 am. It is $5/vehicle to load anywhere in the Nole Cab Zone and takes up to 4 students. To order a ride, just download the RideYellow mobile app.
We asked 3 FSU students who use the Nole Cab over services like Uber to get their average monthly savings. By using the Nole Cab they saved $20 on average a month!
ZipCar is a car sharing service that actually gives students the opportunity to rent cars that are available at several locations on campus. You will need to buy a subscription that is $15/year to use ZipCar. At FSU, the standard hourly rate is $8.50/hr which includes 180 miles/day ($0.45/mile after that). Each car also includes a complimentary gas card.