So you’re thinking about moving out of your dorm and into your own apartment. We don’t blame you! With the cost of room and board coming in at $10,000 per academic year (ouch!) off-campus housing can present a significant savings, even more so when rent is split between roommates. And if you’ll be taking courses over the summer session, an apartment with a 12-month lease makes more sense than dorms available only nine months of the year.
There are some important things to consider before you put your John Hancock on a new lease. We’ve covered some of the biggest ones below to help you get a head start:
Do Your Research
Compare the cost of student housing vs. an off-campus apartment carefully, being sure to figure in extras like utility costs, security deposits, renter’s insurance, and food. Often, (but not always) the apartment will end up being cheaper but know for sure.
Finding an Apartment
Many schools have already done some of the legwork for you - check with your office of residential life to see if they’ve compiled a comprehensive list of off-campus apartments - this will save you some serious time. If not, check with local property management companies for a listing of student-friendly housing.
Location is an important when looking for off-campus accommodations. Is the apartment close to school? In a safe neighborhood? Primarily rented by students? Close to the nearest campus shuttle bus stop? If you said “no” to most of these questions, keep on looking - there are better places out there for you.
Read the fine print
Read the lease carefully before you (and any required co-signers) sign it. Make sure you and your roommates understand rules regarding pets, subletting, maintenance issues, etc. Prior to move-in, take pictures of any preexisting damages and include them with the signed lease - you don’t want to be on the hook later for something that happened three tenants ago.
Save money with second hand living room and kitchen essentials…
Unlike dormitories that provide basic furniture, apartments are usually bare bones. Once you’ve found an apartment, make a list of all furnishings you’ll need and determine how the cost will be divied up among roommates. Consider pooling money for second-hand living room furniture like a sofa, chairs, and basic kitchen needs like place settings and cooking items.
… But don’t skimp on the bedroom stuff
A good quality mattress and ergonomically-friendly desk and chair are personal items that will last well after the college experience has ended - it makes sense to go ahead and buy quality now rather than later. Consider using some of the money you (or your parents) will be saving on dorm costs to buy a Zonkd premium gel memory foam mattresses. An added bonus - it can be ordered online, delivered right to your new apartment and sets up within minutes.
Enjoy your new digs
Your first apartment is a big deal! Enjoy your newfound freedom knowing you’ve got all of your bases covered - great place, cool roommates, suitable furniture, comfy bed. Next up - planning a housewarming party!