How To Find Off-Campus Student Housing
If you’re one of the many students who have been exiled by your college to live off-campus, then here are some tips to consider during your search.
1. Start Early
Remember that you’re competing against other students who are also looking for housing. That bro from sociology class who you’re chummy with may swoop in and grab your apartment before you, if given the opportunity. Who knows? The point is, the longer you wait to start your search, the more difficult it’ll be to find something suitable.
Starting before the prior semester ends is particularly important if you live far away from your school during breaks, so you can save an extra trip there. As a student, you probably won’t have a credit score yet, so take the time to also find a co-signer.
2. Consider Distance from Campus
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When looking at places, you’ll want to consider the distance of your place from campus. As a student, your primary responsibility will of course be to make it to class on time. Walking distance is ideal, but depending on housing availability, that may not be a viable option. Figure out what your public transportation options are.
3. Will You Need Parking?
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If you’re considering bringing a car, distance won’t be much of an issue. However, you’ll want to look specifically at places with parking. Keep in mind though that it may be harder to find housing with parking, and it may also have a higher monthly rent. Also remember that bringing your car will mean friends bothering you for grocery store runs.
4. Set a Price Range
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Is the rent within your budget? If over, then by how much? Factor in the cost of rent split among your future roommates. Many students and their parents are already steeped in student loans, so you need to decide if it would be worth the extra cost. Ask yourself if it will really make a difference in the end, if you go for the cheaper second choice option.
5. Inspect the Apartment / Perform a Walkthrough
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You will be spending a year, possibly more, of your life living in this apartment. It will be the home that you come back to after a long day of classes or work. You do not want to invest in an apartment or house that you are not comfortable in. It is very difficult to get a feel for a place solely through pictures, which have the potential to be misleading. Once there, perform a “walkthrough” with your landlord in order to inspect the apartment and make sure it’s well maintained. Check to see that utilities are working and take pictures of any visible damage (ie: mold, water damage, leaks). This way, the landlord can repair anything that is broken and you won’t be held responsible for damage that existed prior to your move-in. Visiting the apartment can also be beneficial because it may give you the chance to talk to the current tenants, who can shed light on the ups and downs of living in that building.
6. Read the Lease Carefully
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The lease is a binding legal document that will outline the details of your stay in the apartment. Thus, it is absolutely crucial that you read carefully through it and ask the landlord for clarification you may need on any of its terms. Be sure that any agreements you make with the landlord regarding the apartment is put into writing and added to the lease (this includes any repairs that you agreed on during the Inspection).
7. Choose Your Roommates
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Definitely consider living with roommates. This will help make rent cheaper and your experience more fun. When choosing your roommates, ask yourself if you can really live with that person. Do you have similar lifestyles? Remember, a good friend doesn’t necessarily mean good roommate. Also, how clean are they? You don’t want to spend a year cleaning up after a slob of a roommate. Roommates from past years are reliable choices because you already have experience living with them.
8. Utilize the Student Network
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Don’t be afraid to get advice from other students who have lived off-campus in the past. Who better to ask for advice or apartment recommendations for students, than other students? Plus, you can take this chance to try to get free furniture from them when they move out.
9. Explore Your Options
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Overall, living off-campus is a fantastic experience. This will be the first of many apartments that you live in throughout your life, so make sure to learn as much as you can. Don’t just commit to the first place you see, but really spend time figuring out what you want in a house/apartment, look at as many places as you can, and discuss with your parents and roommates. Also, exploring your options not only boosts your chance of finding the perfect fit for you, but it is also good to have options in case one of them falls through. You can even find reviews for some apartments online, which can be helpful in your search.