College life is an exciting journey in someone’s life. Aside from being independent, you’ll be experiencing real-life decisions that you’re solely responsible for, and one of which will be your housing arrangement.
It’s tough to find the most suitable housing that can meet all your needs, especially if your choices are limited or you’re currently living a bit far from your desired living area. Perhaps you’ll be dealing with online searches and virtual tours in some cases. However, don’t fret; some valuable tips listed below can help you learn as you go through your housing decision-making.
Whether you’re an incoming freshman who opts for off-campus housing options or a current college student looking to move into a different apartment, this article is for you. Depend on this guide and be more knowledgeable in weighing which student option would best fit your needs and your lifestyle.
Table of Contents
1. Research Your Student Housing Options Early
One of the things you must do when choosing student housing is to do your research early. This will give you ample time to browse through all your options, and you’ll get to discover more offerings because searching earlier will mean lots of vacancies too. Consider the fact that there will be several people looking for accommodations at the same time. Many students like you might seek the same apartment or housing unit. Hence, if you start early, you can stay ahead of them and land great deals or quality spaces ideal for you.
The best time to start searching for housing options is a few months before your semester starts. In addition, you’ll have some time to investigate different areas and different prices. You need enough time to compare and weigh all your options. Furthermore, you also need some time to move in and settle down before college classes start.
When comparing places, it’s best to note which areas would be your deal-breaker and which features are your priorities. This will make your selection easier. You can find great deals in many places, from online classifieds to apartment home postings like American Avenue and others. Look everywhere and don’t hesitate to act if you see something you like.
2. Set A Budget And Stick To It
Rent is an expense you’ll need to know about before signing anything. Whether your parents are paying or you’re covering the bill yourself, you must be aware of how much you can afford. A lease obligates you to pay your rental dues monthly, and failure to do so can significantly damage your credit.
The first step in finding student housing is determining your budget for rent. Accommodations vary in price, so you should put together a budget and figure out a few factors like the type of room or living space you prefer, your utility expenses, furnishings, and fixtures, moving costs, as well as your transportation budget once you reside in that specific location. This list of prices should be considered before deciding on your student housing. You might find a ridiculously cheap apartment, but it might be an hour away from your campus. This means you either need to drive a car or motorcycle, which requires additional money.
On the other hand, you might find more expensive dorm options because they include extra benefits like gym access and other club memberships. Keep in mind that your cost of living will be impacted by the expenses you’re willing to accept.
3. Decide On Which Location Or Area To Reside
When deciding which student housing to go for, determine what meets your needs best. Needless to say, each living arrangement offers pros and cons, but one important consideration is the location and accessibility. This might be one crucial aspect of why most first-year students decide to go for in-house living options.
However, if this is no longer applicable for you and you want to live off-campus, it’s imperative that you decide on which neighbourhood or location you’d like to live in. Examine the location’s accessibility, parking, facilities, nearby restaurants, shopping areas, and distance to your school. When you decide which area to reside in, you can narrow down your search and move one step forward to finding your next residence.
Driving around will help you locate a nearby grocery store or coffee shop if you’re unfamiliar with the neighbourhood. Make sure you take note of the culture and lifestyle of the area, spend some time there at night to check if you’re comfortable, and find out how much the average apartment costs in the area. Moreover, try to pay attention to how long it takes to move from one place to the other, so you can estimate if it’s easy to travel back and forth.
4. Tour The Housing In Person
It’s pretty easy to find an apartment online as there are a lot of sites that allow you to filter listings. But before you decide and pay the security deposit, it’s still highly recommended to visit the actual place. Despite viewing virtual tours online, nothing beats the experience of looking at the house or unit in person.
Get a balanced perspective by talking to some of the currently occupied units. You can make small talk and ask how their living arrangements are. You can also observe the apartment’s features that matter to you. Take advantage of this visit to also learn about all the fees you need to handle like parking, maintenance or building fees, and so on.
5. Meet The Landlord Face-To-Face
While you may have communicated with your future landlord via mobile or online, it’d be best to meet them face to face. Invite a friend or your prospective roommate to the meeting. Having a physical meeting will give you more ideas on what deal you’re getting and who you’ll be dealing with eventually in terms of monthly dues and fees. Double-check all the details they promised you via text as some landlords might have forgotten those details that mean to you.
Prepare some questions for the landlord when you meet with him, and don’t be afraid to ask them, especially if you don’t know much about the area. For example, you’d like to ask about your neighbours and the entire neighbourhood itself. Consider how liveable the area is and ensure that your neighbours won’t be overly loud when they have parties and events. You can ask for these details from your landlord.
Also, ask about the coverage of your rental fees—what will be included in the rent, how much the security deposit will be, and what other fees you’d be charged with. By dealing with these financial questions, you can estimate whether you can really afford this housing option.
Another point to ask your landlord is the housing furnishings that come with your rent. Maybe they could provide you with existing furniture and appliances, or you could rent them out by paying additional fees. Be clear as to what the house offers in terms of furnishes.
6. Read The Leasing Contract Carefully
Your landlord should have a leasing contract ready for you to sign if you choose their housing option. These contracts play a significant role in your living experience as it’s legally binding, so make sure to read the details carefully. You can even ask for advice from your family, relatives, and other experts regarding subjects in the contract that you’re not familiar with.
A contract should state the following details:
- Amount of rent per month
- Security deposit amount and the requirements they need for you to start lease
- How to get the full security deposit back when you stop renting
- Utility details and which will be charged separately from your monthly fees
- Repair and maintenance expenses
Your written agreement will help you avoid problems in the future. Also, verify how long the contract will remain valid as it’s usually renewed every year. You must provide precise details of your living arrangement plans to your landlord so they can adjust the contract accordingly. If you intend to go back home every once in a while, you need to mention this detail too. Also, ask your landlord to have separate contracts for you and your roommate if you’re planning to cohabit with a friend or classmate.
7. Choose Your Roommates Smartly
Before deciding to have a roommate, make some assessments. Living with someone is entirely different than just spending a few hours every day together. So, decide on this after careful and thorough realizations.
Although your best financial option may be to find a roommate to share expenses with, you should first screen your possible roommates. You must be familiar with their behaviour and personality. You should also know about their daily routines, schedules, and school plans. It’s also vital to know if they’re responsible and neat as you’d want to live with someone who can share chores with you.
A credit check is also a good idea to get referrals from previous roommates or landlords. Further, you should guarantee that the candidate has a steady job that’ll provide adequate income for shared expenses such as rent and utilities. This will give you peace of mind knowing they’re capable of paying for their own fees and dues without troubling you in the future.
8. Consider And Prepare The Requirements Needed For Renting
Security deposits and the first month’s rent are always required before moving into a new apartment. However, this will vary depending on the landlord as some might require deposits worthy of two months. You can ask for all the fees and requirements before signing a contract. In some cases, the deposit amount might equal four months of rent. Be aware of these details and select other options if you feel that this requirement is too much.
9. Be Wary Of Rental Scams
Unfortunately, there’s a proliferation of rental scams. Security deposits are sometimes collected by scammers for properties they don’t own while others use rental properties to steal financial and personal information from tenants. Hence, it’s essential not to trust anyone easily, especially those you haven’t met or talked to yet in person. You can’t guarantee that the pictures of housing options are accurate and owned by them.
Here are some more tips to avoid being scammed:
- Never deposit without meeting the landlord in person or signing a contract together.
- Don’t give out personal and financial information over the phone or email just yet.
- If the photos or offerings are too good to be true such that they’re priced too cheap or located in luxurious neighbourhoods, you must search on them further.
- It’s best to conduct thorough research while checking reviews and asking families and friends about some properties.
10. Prepare Renters’ Insurance
For students who live off-campus, renters’ insurance is vital. There are limitations to your landlord’s insurance, so it’s best to have your own. With reasonable pricing, renters’ insurance can protect you from fire, flood, and theft losses. Your damaged and stolen belongings can be compensated by the insurance companies in those unlikely events.
11. View As Many Options As Possible
Consider more than one location before settling on your student housing. You’d like to explore and discover other options before taking the final leap. Ideally, you need to find a place that suits you perfectly. It’s advisable to create a list of the places you’d like to check out.
Don’t feel obligated to reserve a housing unit or apartment as soon as you see accommodations you want. Even when landlords are typically nice and friendly, you’ll need to consider many other variables before finally settling into a decision.
A student like you must consider many factors when finding the proper housing. Be confident in your decisions and act on your instincts. Be sure to check all the aspects of a house or apartment before you sign on it. See to it that you inspect the property first before you sign the leasing contract. Hopefully, this guide has given you valuable information on what variables and factors are essential when selecting the most suitable student housing for you.