What you need to know about getting an apartment in college

There’s always an opportunity for college students to save money. Getting an apartment off campus can help you save money and start developing a rental history. 

But before you get an apartment off-campus, here are some things you should know. 

Is Getting an Apartment In College Worth It?

Moving is easy. The hardest part is figuring out what is best for you. Living on campus is convenient, but it can be expensive. Many students don’t do research and sometimes end up paying the same or more money than they paid off-campus. 

On average, college students spend about $50,000 on room and board through all four years. By renting an apartment off-campus, you can cut down on your room and board costs. 

Living off-campus also has its downfalls and comes with a lot of responsibilities. 

For example, you’ll no longer have easy access to your school’s cafeteria, so you’ll be responsible for grocery shopping. While you can still have a meal plan, it might not make much sense if you’re spending most of your time off-campus.

Aside from a meal plan, you also have to pay rent and make sure it gets paid on time. Colleges typically include room and board in their cost of attendance, which means that students often don’t have to pay rent by a specific day. However, if you live off-campus, you’ll be responsible for meeting the rent deadlines set by your landlord.

Find Your Roommate Match

Most college students have a roommate to help them with living costs. When choosing a roommate, it’s important to live with someone you trust and have similar lifestyles. That can help cut down on the level of conflict that might arise in the future.

When searching for a roommate, here are some things to keep in mind:

Start your roommate search on websites like Roomster and RoomieMatch.com. Fill in all your profile information and be clear about what you’re looking for in a roommate. 

Social media, such as Facebook, is another good way to reach to find a potential roommate through your network of friends and family.

Find Your Place 

First things first, you need to find an apartment that rents for students. A lot of the community around the university usually understands the struggle that may come by living on campus.

Next, find an apartment that’s not too far from school, you may want to minimize time spent commuting. Taking within the 5-25 miles range is ideal.

Don’t forget to ask questions such:

  • What are the required move-in costs?
  • Are utilities included in the rent?
  • What are the application costs, and do I need a co-signer?
  • Will the apartment come fully furnished? 
  • Does the apartment have a washer/dryer available? 
  • Is parking included (if you have a car)? 
  • How much is rent each month? 

These are all reasonable questions that your landlord should be able to answer accordingly. 

Anticipate Move-in Costs

In a typical scenario, tenants pay first month’s rent and a deposit to move in. In some cases, you may be asked for first and last month’s rent and a deposit. 

Having a Co-Signer/Guarantor

In some cases, you might need to have an adult with established credit help you get the apartment. If you’re not looking at student-specific housing, you’ll likely need someone to sign the lease with you. 

Ask the landlord if they accept co-signers and what is required to apply for the apartment if so. 

If you can apply on your own, you’ll need to gather your own documents, and will need to know what they’ll require from you.

If all goes well, soon you should be signing a lease for your new apartment. Don’t forget to read everything on the lease contract to make sure that you understand any implications or additional fees.

It’s Time To Get Settled In

After all the papers are signed, you’ll want to set-up a time to do a walkthrough with the landlord and pick up your keys.

At your initial walkthrough, point out anything that is damaged or not working well. Check that the faucets and drains are working correctly, the heat and air conditioner functions, and point out any issues with the apartment.

It’s also a good idea to take some photos of the apartment so you can refer back to them on move-out. It will protect you if the landlord tries to blame you for something that was already there and attempts to take the money out of your deposit.

Overall, by living off-campus, you’ll not only cut down your college expenses, but you’ll also become more independent.