Living Off Campus
Moving into your first apartment? Whether you’re renting a place near campus as a student or looking to move into your own apartment after graduation, here are some tips to get you started:
It’s important to determine how much you can afford to pay in rent. The generally accepted range is 25-30% of your income. Keep in mind that there are short-term costs such as an application fee, security deposit (some may also require first and last month’s rent in advance), and utility deposits. Other expenses may include pet deposit, renter’s insurance, parking fees, and onsite maintenance fees.
Every neighborhood has its own personality, be sure to think about what kind of neighborhood you’d like to live in. Also, keep in mind your needs. Do you want or need to be situated near public transportation? Do you want to be within walking distance of restaurants? Where is the nearest grocery store? Will you feel safe? Once you have decided on a location based on your needs, check out the neighborhood during the day and in the evening to get a sense of what it’s like to live there.
Decide if you need or want a roommate. Having a roommate or two allows for cost sharing and is definitely budget friendly, but you are sacrificing some privacy. Think about your budget and your lifestyle and decide what your preference is. You may need to sacrifice location or amenities to afford an apartment on your own.
Search your area of interest and look for listings that match your criteria. There are plenty of rental databases online you can find with a simple Google search. Narrow it down to about five and make appointments to tour.
When you’re touring apartments, here are things to keep in mind:
- Check the locks on the doors and windows of the apartment (and the door of the building as well) to ensure they close properly. If there is condensation on the windows, they aren’t closed properly.
- Check if the floor is slanted and/or warped in any way, as that could be a sign of a previous or existing leak.
- Another leaky clue: Make sure there are no spots on the ceilings and/or walls.
- Turn on the water in showers and sinks and flush toilets to make sure the pressure and color are to your liking.
- Look around for both good outlet locations and livable socket numbers.
- Notice how much natural sunlight the apartment receives. Light has a major impact on your overall mood, so keep an eye out for big windows.
- Try out the appliances. If anything doesn’t work, ask the landlord if they are willing to fix or replace it. Get a confirmation in writing, if possible.
- If you see little holes in the wood floor, it is an indication that bugs likely were there. If you see steel wool stuffed into any crevices, rodents were there. Bring these issues up with the landlord.
- If you have a car, ask about parking availability, security, and monthly costs.
- While visiting, take the opportunity to ask current tenants you may run into about their experience living at the apartment complex.
- Know your rights as a tenant