10 Romantic AF Date Ideas For Broke College Students

Finding romance doesn't require a big budget.
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Studying for midterms and working part-time can be hard enough for the average college student without having to worry about date night with a partner. 

Romance isn't about that fancy $100 meal or a giant bouquet of artisanal flowers. It can be simple, cheap, and still intimate enough to inspire the best love stories. 

Here are 10 Romantic AF date ideas for students on a tight budget: 

1. Dollar Store Arts & Crafts

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You can never be too old for Arts & Crafts. Whether it's a Paint-By-Number set, a set of scratch sheets, or good ol' fashioned popsicle sticks, you can explore your creativity to your heart's content. 

Draw a picture that reminds you of your partner, follow a Bob Ross video on YouTube, and let your artistic imagination guide you. This is not only a very romantic date but very inexpensive and - if the results are to your taste - is a good way to DIY some home decor. 

2. Stargazing Picnic 

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If you spend your days holed up in the library studying for your next midterm, then a nighttime trip with your partner might just be the perfect solution. A sea of stars above you, a comfy blanket to snuggle under, and the right ambiance for those late-night conversations. 

Bring some snacks - chocolate pretzels and a thermos of warm milk is my personal favorite - and bask in the quiet of the evening with your loved one at your side. 

3. The 3-Course-Meal 

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If you and your partner love fast food - and on a student budget, who doesn't? - then the 3-Course-Meal is the ideal substitute for a fancy dinner. All you need to do is to do rock-paper-scissors, and whoever wins gets to decide the food for that round. 

Appetizers. Main. Dessert.

You can even upgrade this to a 4-Course-Meal date if you add a Drinks category! 

The point of this date is to visit three different places - for an adventure, of course - to mix-and-match those amazing fast food joints as the perfect meal. 

4. Sunset On the Beach 

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This one really doesn't need any justification. Imagine watching the dying rays of sunshine dip below the horizon, a kaleidoscope of colors painting the sky, the sound of the ocean waves in the background...


It's always romantic to watch the sunset together on the beach, and if there are no beaches close to you, then find those sunset spots in your town. A hill, a rooftop, anywhere from which you can see one of Mother Nature's most gorgeous events. 

But also: build some sandcastles! 

5. Explore the Outdoors 

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Go for that hike just outside of town, that trail around the lake where you can feed the ducks, walk through a garden looking for unusual plants. It's a great way to get some fresh air and exercise, plus, you'll have plenty of time to have a great conversation with your partner. 

A day trip to explore the outdoors will refresh your mind after a week of endless readings and lab reports. You can share a bag of trail mix, chat about your respective weeks, or you can just enjoy the peaceful quiet of nature. 

6. Thrifting 

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Have a theme in mind before you get to the store. Are you looking for the whackiest outfits? Are you hoping to find some cosplay pieces? Or are you simply just browsing for the next top that will spruce up your wardrobe? 

Try thrifting for outfits for each other. Play dress-up with your partner, find those zebra-print joggers that they would never wear, and whatever you do, have fun! 

Also, thrifting doesn't always just mean clothes. Find a secondhand board game, a forgotten antique, a decorative art piece for your awkward nook by the front door. Thrift shops are a great way to find reusable items instead of spending money on an overpriced dress that you'll only wear once. 

7. Visit An Animal Shelter 

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Because who doesn't love animals, right? The animals in your local shelter are usually starving for affection, but let's be real, some cuddles with a fluffy friend might actually alleviate some of that student stress. 

Who knows, you might even be able to convince your partner that a pet is just what you need! 

8. Microwave Recipes 

Image source: Bigger Bolder Baking

As an average college student, a 5-hour gourmet meal is probably not on your to-do list unless you're an avid chef. There are tons of recipes out there that only require the simplest ingredients and a functioning microwave. 

Try this recipe for Microwave 5-Minute Mac 'N' Cheese or Microwave Mug Pizza! Both are absolutely delicious, really easy, and perfect for those quick dates during exam season. 

Spread a blanket on the floor, throw some pillows on there, and you have yourselves a cute date night!

9. Scavenger Hunt 

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Visit your nearest Target or Walmart with your best pair of running shoes on. Give yourselves half an hour to find a list of items, and whoever wins gets a free meal - or bragging rights, depending on your budget. 

For example, a simple list of five items could look like this: 

  •  Something used in the summer
  • An item with wheels 
  • Something used in the kitchen
  • A food your partner has never eaten 
  • Something with a frog on it 

You can get really creative and come up with a particular theme (Disney Princesses, Tropical Holiday, etc.), or you can go for the items that are found on that one shelf at the back of the store. 

10. Netflix - With A Twist 

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This is perhaps the most common cheap date night idea you'll find out there. But let me tell you how to make it interesting - choose the absolute worst movies out there. 

You can spend the night trashing a cheesy romance or cringing at subpar horror movie's special effects. Netflix - or any other streaming service - is a great way to spend the night if you're looking for some cuddles, conversation, and chill time. 

As your workload piles up and your free time diminishes, it might be difficult to plan a romantic date with your partner, but you don't need an expensive meal or a helicopter ride around the city to find romance. 

These inexpensive ideas will give you the quality time and intimacy that you need in your relationship.

Sit back, relax, and get those assignments done without worrying about your next date night. 

An Asian-Canadian with your stereotypical bubble tea addiction. I'm also a writer, student, and lover of all things Marvel-related.

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