Getting Ready for Freshman Year: How to Find the Best Apartment

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  • At the outset of your college education, you will likely face a wide variety of new experiences and challenges. You will also have a variety of choices you will need to make. One of the first decisions you need to sort out is where you will live. Though on-campus living is a popular choice for freshmen, off-campus living offers a chance to flourish on your own without the strict rules of the university. Live independently by using these tips to find your first college apartment.

    Make a Budget

    Before you begin your apartment search, you need to know how much you can afford in rent each month. In addition to rent, you need to pay monthly utility bills. Do not forget to factor in groceries, school supplies and entertainment. If your parents plan on paying the bills, find out the range they are willing to pay before you begin your search.

    Decide on Roommates

    Many apartment buildings in college towns offer lower rates for apartments with several rooms and assigned roommates. If you choose this route, you have the opportunity to meet new people right away. These apartment buildings also tend to have more amenities, such as a pool, an exercise facility, and social events geared to college students. This kind of atmosphere is not for everyone, however, and you may seek a quieter social scene. One bedroom or two bedroom apartments are also available at smaller apartment complexes and in houses renovated into apartments.

    Begin the Search

    There are a few different places to begin your college apartment search. A simple Internet search yields the major apartment complexes in the area. You can get a feel for the average price between the apartments, along with any amenities. Search for reviews of the apartments to get a more accurate portrayal of life at each apartment complex. Another good search option is the college’s student board, which many colleges offer in the private student section of the website. Find postings from others seeking roommates, or find great deals on sublets. If you are already in the same city as the college, check out the student newspaper for advertisements. The Dean of Students Office keeps information on off-campus housing at many universities as well.

    Select your Apartment

    Make a list of your favorite apartment options within your budget. View the apartments in person, if possible. This gives you the chance to ask questions about the average monthly utility bills and any special rules. It also gives you the opportunity to see if the living environment fits your needs. If you live far away from your college, be sure to call to ask questions instead of only relying on the Internet for information. Do not sign a lease until you arrive at your new city and see the apartment in-person. When it comes to the lease, prepare to have a parent co-sign with you.

    Know that there are challenges to living off-campus that do not occur with on-campus housing. You need to remember to pay your bills on time and manage your finances closely. This sense of independence, however, can foster the confidence you need after you graduate college and begin your life on your own.

    Rianne Hunter is a wife, mother of three, and avid blogger on all things finance, education, and real estate. She recommends assuring that everything is right with your place even after you move in with scheduling a free pest inspection and avoiding any extra distractions during the school year.

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