Tips on Getting Your First Off-Campus Apartment

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  • Are you finally ready to move out of the dorms and get your own place?

    If so, these tips for getting your first off-campus apartment can help make the process quick and easy.

    Remember, moving into your first apartment may be incredibly exciting, but it can also cause a great deal of stress and anxiety.

    And that is because it’s easy to make mistakes with so little experience. Don’t fall into this trap. Here’s how to get started.

    Stay Local

    Even if you have your own car, living far away from campus is impractical, needlessly expensive, and often times stressful. Living far away, you must account for travel time when going to and from school, as well as budget for gas. Instead, stay close to campus. If you don’t have a car, there are likely to be many more transportation options available to you – like public transportation, ride sharing, or a bicycle – and your commute time between school, your apartment, and your job can be greatly reduced.

    Ask Around

    If you’re planning on moving in the near future, ask friends, colleagues, teachers, and friends of friends for any furniture, appliances, dishware, or other household items they may be willing to part with. You might be amazed at the reception you get; people are often looking for ways to get rid of old items but simply don’t know how. And in college, students are constantly moving around and upgrading, meaning there’s plenty of good items going around. Wait until after college to buy expensive furniture!

    Remember to Budget

    Moving into an apartment for the first-time is often a wake-up call. Unfortunately, many people fail to account for the related expenses they will be responsible for. You may have factored in your rent cost, but have you considered the cost of renters insurance, utilities, parking, furnishings, food, and other incidentals? When budgeting for your new apartment, don’t make the mistake of accommodating for the rent and nothing else. If you do, you might just find that your time as a tenant is short lived!

    Research, Research, Research

    Before ever moving into a new apartment, learn as much as you can about the neighborhood, the apartment itself, the surrounding communities, and what expenses you will be responsible for. The more you are able to find out, the better. Thankfully, there are many online tools to help you in this process. For example, are you attending Columbia or NYU? If so, you can browse apartments for rent in NYC using tools like ForRent. Not only can you find apartments that are close to campus, but you can find units in your price range as well. Doing your research and using the proper tools can greatly help your search process.

    Find Roommates

    Unless your last name is Vanderbilt or Rockefeller, the odds are good that you’re going to be sharing your first off-campus apartment with a roommate (or two). Using apps like RoomSurf, a website for college students looking to find compatible roommates, can help in this process (particularly if you are relatively new to your town or city). Again, it pays to use the best tool for the job. Simply create a profile, complete the site’s user questionnaire, and RoomSurf will help pair you with like-minded individuals in your area who are a good match.

    Prep, Prep, Prep

    Anything that can help make your move-in date easier is worth your time! Before you pick up the keys to your new place or sign your name on the dotted line, make sure that every “t” is crossed and every “i” is dotted. Figure out what documents you’ll need, what the deposit is, how long the lease is for, what the rules of the apartment are, and what your rights as a tenant are. When it comes to moving into your first apartment, you can’t over-prepare.

    Communicate

    In the likely event that you live with a roommate, there are steps you can take to ensure the relationship is fruitful for both of you. Just like a marriage, communication can help set realistic expectations for both parties. Discuss what your needs are, what expectations you have, and what practical concerns need to be addressed. For example, what furniture is missing? Who needs to buy what? Who is responsible for what chores? What is forbidden and permitted? By communicating with each other openly, you will be doing yourself a huge favor.

    Congratulations! You’re ready for Your First Apartment.

    A lack of confidence likely isn’t an issue for you; after all, most college students are ready to take on the world. However, when it comes to getting your first off-campus apartment, there’s such a thing as being too confident. Rather than rush through the process, think things through and weigh your options before making a decision – it can help you avoid preventable mistakes and ensure that your first apartment (and first paying roommate) is a good fit.

     
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