If you’ve decided to explore off-campus housing, first of all, great choice!
Not only can moving off-campus give you more room and offer a quieter environment for hitting the books, but it can also save you money.
Just be sure to follow these 5 rules to find the perfect rental:
1. Assess Your Needs
What do you want to get out of your rental?
Sure, you want a place to live, but think about what else you want and need. Here are a few questions to ask yourself.
- How much privacy do I need? If your answer is a lot, then a bachelor apartment with no roommates is probably ideal for you. On the other hand, if you like your alone time but also enjoy socializing, sharing a house or renting a room could be a good housing solution.
- Do I want to cook for myself? If you plan on getting a meal plan on campus or eating mainly microwavable meals, a kitchen is probably not a top priority. But if you want to cook most of your own meals, make sure that wherever you rent, you have access to a kitchen.
- Am I relying on public transportation? If yes, look for something within walking distance or on a frequent route.
- How much can I afford? This is a big one that we are sure you’ve thought about. But if not, try making a budget then looking at what that can afford you in your area. Be sure to include items like memberships, your phone bill, and parking when looking at your living costs.
2. Know Where to Look
You know what you can afford and what you ideally want, so the search is on! And the best place to start is your college’s housing board.
Many schools offer a webpage or Facebook page with off-campus rental listings for private apartments, house shares, and room rentals.
While it also never hurts to search other resources like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, this board is also an excellent place to find roommates that go to your school.
Many people that post already own or rent a house and are looking to rent out rooms.
3. Find the Right Roommates
Whether you’ve decided you aren’t comfortable living on your own or need to split expenses, finding the right roommate is crucial.
While it can be easiest to find a friend or two that are willing to shack up with you, we know this isn’t always a possibility.
As mentioned above, your school’s housing board can help. If you can’t find anything listed that suits your needs, don’t be afraid to make a post yourself.
Alternatively, you can also try a roommate finding website.
Both Roomi and Room Zoom are particularly popular. Roomi shows the rooms available, as well as a profile of your potential roomie.
In comparison, Room Zoom uses an algorithm much like a dating website to match you with your perfect roommate.
However, with any of these methods, please use caution when meeting up with strangers. For your initial meeting or showing, consider bringing along a friend.
4. Check Public Transportation
This is less of an issue for students with a car, but if you rely on public transport, this rule is for you. No apartment is worth it if public transportation surrounding it doesn’t support your schedule.
Here are a few things to check when it comes to public transportation:
- Is the school within walking distance? If yes, then great! But keep in mind that you probably won’t always want to hoof it, especially in the colder months. Therefore, you need to check how close the nearest bus stop or subway terminal is to your potential new home.
- Does transportation run there often? If you’re on a bus route, but the bus only comes by every few hours, this may not be ideal. Especially if you aren’t within walking distance. This means that you’ll probably have to show up at school extra early for classes and if you miss the bus, you’re going to have a difficult time getting there. Sure, a cab is always an option, but those fares add up! Instead, find housing that is on a route that runs frequently.
- How long does transportation run? You want to ensure you can make it to an early class or get home if you stay late on campus partying studying in the library. Check when the first and last call is for the public transportation of your choice. If you live in a big city, this is usually less of an issue since routes run all night. But smaller places often have a start time and stop time for routes.
5. Consider Amenities
Off-campus housing that is close to your school makes your life a lot easier, but don’t forget to also scope out the other amenities in the area.
A grocery store close by is ideal, especially if you are taking public transportation.
While a building with washers and dryers within the vicinity can also be a huge convenience.
Looking for a place to unwind? Look for parks nearby or an apartment building with an area like a rooftop lounge.
You may also want to consider perks that would benefit your lifestyle
For example, if you bike to school, a rental that includes bike storage would be ideal.
Want to keep fit? If you aren’t using your school’s gym facility, look for an apartment complex that offers a gym.
However, just remember that these perks are just that—perks. Basic housing will also do just fine.
Don’t be tricked into thinking your first apartment has to be magazine-worthy. Don’t sweat the small stuff and focus on finding a place that accommodates your basic needs.
Even if that means it has cupboards for the 60s, so be it! If you really hate the look, it’s nothing a little contact paper makeover can’t handle.
And finally, no matter what type of off-campus housing you choose, ensure you will be living with people you feel comfortable with and in a neighborhood you trust.
Combine that advice with the 5 rules above and you will find the perfect housing in no time!