In the end there were only 2 to choose from.
1) 1 bedroom about 5 min from school. New (but very small) kitchen and new bathroom. Very cute. Boring, but safe location. Landlady works in my department. Listing said no pets, but she agreed to let me have visiting animals. Cats, dog and husband! Financially do-able, but I'm not going to be paying off any credit cards or buying a new Anthropologie wardrobe anytime soon.
2) 4 bedroom house with 3 roommates currently but one is moving out will not to be replaced. Nice house, nice roommates. One is afraid of dogs but willing to compromise. Other is allergic to cats. One in my department has reputation for being very social and a bit of a partier. Also seems to be a bit bossy/know-it-all (10 minute instructions to other roommate about exactly how she should cook fish...and it was only seasoning, butter and foil). One is a smoker, but only outside. But it is goodbye-credit-card-debt-hello-cute-shoes cheap!
I decided on the 1 bedroom. The whole roommate thing was a little too much for me. With the new job, an upcoming field season, and a house and husband in a different state I don't want to worry about whether or not it is my week to buy dish soap. The smoking roommate is an issue as well because smoke can trigger my migraines. That is not a risk I really want to take. Finally, while they tried to stress that I should feel at home and can use everything in the house as if it were mine, it just didn't feel like I would be comfortable.
Having my own space and being surrounded by my own familiar things sounds much more inviting. From our last long distance experience*, I know how miserable it can feel to be stuck in a place you hate far away from the people you love. If I am much less likely to hate my own apartment, that alone is going to be worth the extra money!
*when I lived in the trailer from hell because it was provided for free