Although we believe that on-campus housing provides the best experience at the best value, we understand that you may prefer to live off-campus for a variety of reasons. Moving off campus is a big decision that comes with a lot of responsibility as well as a lot of advantages. While on-campus dorms are convenient, off-campus housing is frequently less expensive. It also provides you with larger living spaces, the ability to make your own rules, and the opportunity to gain more life experience. Not all off-campus options, however, are ideal.
Renting an apartment while in college necessitates some consideration and planning. After all, the last thing you want to do is sign a semester or year-long lease only to find out you made a mistake.
Follow these four off-campus apartment tips to help you choose an off-campus student apartment.
1. Take into account all of your expenses
When you live off-campus, rent is only one of your expenses. Don’t forget about your utilities, particularly your heating. Inquire with your landlord about whether utilities are included in your rent and, if so, how much control you have over their use. If utilities are not included, request a copy of previous bills or contact the utility companies directly.
Discuss how you will split utilities and other costs with your roommates. For example, not everyone may want the same internet service.
Potential Additional Expenses
- Services and products (gas, electric, oil, water)
- Phone and Internet
- Satellite or cable TV
- Furniture (do not take mattresses or furniture found on the street because they may be infested with bugs)
- Items for the home (pots and pans, light bulbs, etc.)
- Service for sewers
- Garbage collection
- Insurance for renters
Off-campus housing is typically paid for out of your — or your parents’ — pocket. Before you start fantasizing about the perfect apartment, you need to know how much you can afford to pay. Ideally, you don’t want to spend more than 30% of your monthly income on rent. Other notable fees to keep an eye out for are as follows:
Security deposits: Many apartments require a security deposit, which can be as much as a month’s rent on top of your other moving costs, to cover any damage you may cause while living there.
Utilities: Some apartments include all or a portion of your utilities, while others do not. Heating, cooling, electricity, gas, water, internet, and trash services are all examples of utilities. Make sure to include these in your monthly budget.
Pet fees: Will you be bringing your pet? Expect to pay an additional deposit or a monthly fee, depending on the apartment management company’s policies.
You must create a budget after accounting for all of your expenses. Using the ideal rate of 30% of your monthly income for rent, your income or the allocated fund must be sufficient to ensure that you can afford the expense without being burdened. For example, if you are considering moving to an apartment near USC, you can find options ranging from $ 1,500 to $ 3,000 in average for Koreatown off campus apartments. Your monthly income must be around $4,500 in this case.
2. Location, Neighborhoods and Communities
If you don’t have a car, try not to go too far away from college, major thoroughfares, or shopping areas. You obviously want to be able to get to your classes quickly and easily. As a result, your apartment should be near major roads, walking paths, or public transportation drop-offs/pick-ups. However, proximity is only half of the battle. You must be certain that the neighborhood will suit your needs.
Some neighborhoods and communities, for example, are simply unwelcoming to college students. They could be made up of seniors or elderly residents, or they could be made up of young couples and their children. As an off-campus apartment renter, you may feel like an outsider.
Take a tour of the blocks surrounding the apartment or townhouse before signing any lease. Get a feel for what it’s like to live there. Talk to current residents if possible. The more information you have upfront, the better you’ll be able to determine whether or not an apartment is a good – and safe – fit for you.
3. Choose Your Roommates
Before you begin your search for off-campus student housing, you must decide whether you will live alone, with a roommate, or share your space with multiple people to save money. If you’re going in with others, you must all be 100% committed to finding a place and splitting the costs.
- It’s great to have your bestie as a roommate, but it’s not your only option. You can also use social media to find people who are not in your social circle. Simply ensure that everyone is on the same page by asking key questions about lifestyle preferences, such as:
- Schedules of work
- Consumption and smoking habits
- How frequently do you like to entertain?
- How will you share spaces and items?
A mutual agreement on the “rules” for your room or apartment can help you deal with many common problems. Even if your roommate is your best friend, you should talk about how life will be as roommates. Talk with your roommate about each of the areas, come up with a plan, and write it down.
- What kind of communication will you have?
- Guests who prefer peace and quiet
- Visiting hours
- Cleanliness of the room or apartment
- Taking a loan (food, clothing, etc.)
- Use of a stereo, radio, and television
- Personal customs (including drinking and smoking)
- Other specific subjects
- Doing dishes, purchasing household items such as toilet paper and cleaning supplies, and sharing food items are all responsibilities for apartment dwellers.
We strongly advise you to sign a roommate contract with all of your roommates, even if you are friends before moving in together. A Roommate Contract allows you to be very clear on expectations from the start, which can often help you avoid conflicts later.
4. Security and Safety
Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you inspect your new digs to ensure that you will feel safe while living there. How do people enter and exit the building? When was the last time you changed the locks? How is the surrounding area? All of these are important questions to research and discuss with your prospective landlord before falling in love with your new home.
Call the landlord and make an appointment to see the property. Ask as many questions as you need to. If the landlord is evasive or refuses to answer your questions, you should look for another apartment.
If a landlord agrees to make improvements, get it in writing, along with a timetable for completion. Visit the apartment at various times of the day and evening to ensure that it is well-lit and secure. It is not advisable to sign a lease without first inspecting the property. You are encouraged to view any property you are thinking about renting.
When looking for a rental property, we recommend that you proceed with caution. It is recommended that you only rent properties that have had a safety inspection performed by a state certified inspector within the last three years, or properties where the owner lives on-site. Many off-campus apartments do not meet these bare minimums. If you are searching on your own, please exercise caution.
If the off-campus apartments in your list are in agreement with the above mentioned elements, you are now into the next step of decision making. Your final decision depends on which element you focus the most – budget, location, roommate or safety. Also, your choice can be the one with average score on all of these elements.
After shifting to your off-campus apartment, remember that you’re still a part of the community once you’ve moved in – be safe, eat well, get around, and have fun. Being a responsible member of the community is essential. Keep in mind that not all of your neighbors are college students. If you own a car, make sure you understand the parking rules in your area, including any restrictions on parking on the street during the winter. For more information, contact your local municipality.