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Flagler student finds way to combat pricey on-campus living

April 25, 2017 2:16 pm by: Category: News 1 Comment A+ / A-

By Jessica Rowan | gargoyle@flagler.edu 

Armand Flutie in front of his RV.

Finding an apartment or home is always a challenge here in St. Augustine without burning a hole in your student savings, or parent’s wallet. But soon- to- be Flagler College junior, Armand Flutie, 19, figured out an alternative, more economical way to afford to live off campus.

“Moving off campus was probably the best college decision I have ever made. I love the campus, but the dorm situation really was a problem for me,” Flutie said.

While Flutie says he had a great freshman roommate, his suitemate’s lack of cleanliness became a major issue, as well as having to pay for a full-meal plan which ran up into the thousands.

Flutie was awarded scholarships to live on campus his sophomore year, but by the time tuition bills were due, the college increased the price of dorm living and meal plan to almost $10,000.

“You can’t keep up with it, and it’s driving students to the ruin,” Flutie said.

Flutie started to look at apartments in St. Augustine and was shocked at the outrageous prices for downtown studios ranging up to $1,000 per month.

“It was ridiculous. I couldn’t pay that. I was discussing my situation with my mother, who then said, ‘Armand, why don’t you just go live in a trailer park?’ After my mom proposed that idea, I thought, ‘I’m young, I don’t mind living differently. Hey, why not! If we can make it work, we can make it work,’” Flutie said.

Flutie admits that there are negative associations for people who live in trailer parks, but that didn’t stop him.

“There really are not that many trailer parks in St. Augustine, and only one that is actually nice. It’s the one I live in called Wagon Wheel, about five miles south of campus off US Highway 1. I like it here a lot. The neighbors are nice. It’s safe, clean and rent is cheap,” Flutie said.

Entrance of Wagon Wheel Trailer Park in St. Augustine, FL.

Flutie pays a whopping $350 per month in rent at the trailer park which includes: a parcel of land, water, sewage and the lawn mowed. All Flutie had to bring was the RV.

After months of searching, Flutie found a 31-foot 1998 Airstream Land Yacht to call home. Encapsulated inside his home lies a separate bedroom with queen-size bed, full bathroom with shower, stove and oven, microwave, fridge with a freezer, sofa with dining space and a television, yet minimal air conditioning. His home on wheels sleeps up to six people.

“We were able to purchase the RV for less than what it costs to live on campus for an entire year,” Flutie said.

While Flutie spends much of his time doing homework on Flagler’s air-conditioned campus, he admits by living alone he misses out on some of the college social scenes.

View from Flutie’s parcel of land.

“Sometimes it can get a bit lonely. It’s to be expected when you are staying out here all by yourself. I wouldn’t mind having a roommate in the RV, but whoever it may be has to be willing to live in a very confined space with few possessions,” Flutie said.

Of course, as with any unique lifestyle, it takes some getting used to. For example, no traditional plumbing.

“Dealing with the sewage is the worst thing to get used to living in an RV. The trailer park uses septic tanks, so I have to drain it myself when it fills up about every two weeks. It is fine when all goes well, but it’s not fun when something goes wrong. It’s a really long cleanup process. You are probably going to want to bleach your hands and the entire premises. And on top of that you have to fix your sewage rig,” Flutie said.

Thankfully, this has only happened to Flutie once since living in his RV.

Flutie has lived in his RV since August 2016 and has definitely learned how to live a minimalistic, yet economical student lifestyle.

“I do not plan on leaving anytime soon, I plan to live here until I graduate. Depending on where grad school takes me, I could drive my RV up to another place or sell it and make some money and get my payments back in rent,” Flutie said.

Flutie’s home on wheels.

Everything is within an arm’s reach for Armand Flutie. He has nearly all the amenities of a home or apartment, all while saving money.

“It’s my own little patch of St. Augustine paradise. It’s not for everyone. My good friend doesn’t get why I live out here. He said he would feel claustrophobic. Different strokes for different folks.”

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Flagler student finds way to combat pricey on-campus living Reviewed by on . By Jessica Rowan | gargoyle@flagler.edu  [caption id="attachment_31554" align="aligncenter" width="469"] Armand Flutie in front of his RV.[/caption] Finding an By Jessica Rowan | gargoyle@flagler.edu  [caption id="attachment_31554" align="aligncenter" width="469"] Armand Flutie in front of his RV.[/caption] Finding an Rating: 0

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Comments (1)

  • stella

    After living in the dormitory towers for about a semester, 15 years ago, I realized it simply did not make economic sense, in addition to being a very unhealthy living environment. It wasn’t even a very good study environment.

    It was significantly cheaper, even considering utilities and food, to rent a 3 bedroom apartment with other people, a 10 or 15 minute walk from the school (and you didn’t have to freelance as for example professional dissertation writer to earn some extra cash). It was also a much more comfortable place to live, I had my own large bedroom with a real comfortable bed, not a glorified cot, and the housing on campus was very noisy by comparison, that was located near a major road with sirens blaring all night and people constantly coming and going, yelling, playing loud music and dancing on the floors above me, almost every hour of almost every night, and nothing I did ever really put a stop to this. Study sessions or sleeping was often interrupted by fire alarms whenever somebody decided to ignore rules about smoking in the building. I felt the apartment building where I later moved was much safer, not to mention more peaceful.

    I also gained a significant amount of weight when I lived on campus. At least at the time, most of the meal plan options were greasy, fried or carbohydrate rich salty foods. When I moved and started cooking healthy meals for myself, I lost weight.

    I didn’t think living in “the dorms” was a good experience at all, and if you are a student or a parent with college student, just find an apartment near school with compatible people. Living on campus isn’t a prerequisite for any class or activity.

    I’m also shocked that “older” students are given a pass to move off campus at some colleges, I don’t know how they get away with this, considering an 18 year old is legally as much of an adult as someone 38 years of age.

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