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10 Tips for College Students Renting Off Campus for the First Time

10 Tips for College Students Renting Off Campus for the First Time

Back-to-school bus traffic has not yet begun to affect the daily commute, but many college students are already preparing to pack the car and head back to campus for another semester. While students are busily packing, parents may be pouring out advice about going to class, getting enough sleep and studying for exams. We’ve got a few tips for students living off campus for the first time too.

As college students are finalizing housing plans for another school year, here are 10 things students renting off campus should know this semester:

1. See your housing before you sign a lease. And talk to previous tenants if possible too. A picture is worth a thousand words, but seeing is believing when it comes to the apartment that you’ll call home for the next school year. You’ll want to know what you’re walking into before you sign on any dotted lines. Talking to previous tenants will also help you get a feel for your new landlord. Because, yes, you will need to interact with them throughout the year too.

2. Document your apartment’s condition at the beginning of the lease. Take photos and write down any pre-existing damage you see before you even move a box into your new housing. You don’t want to be held responsible for damage someone else may have done to your apartment.

3. Consider your security. Visit your new apartment at various times of the day before you move in and get acclimated to the immediate area around your housing too. Check locks and windows to make sure they’re secure as well. Make sure you’ll feel comfortable coming and going at various hours of the day.

4. Choose your roommates carefully. If you’re even able to do so. Some off-campus housing options may pair you with roommates automatically. But if you’re able to select your own roommates, make sure you choose someone you can live with—and someone whose personal habits you can live with for the next year.

5. Have an agreement about who is responsible for what when it comes to monthly bills. From rent to cable and utilities, splitting the costs of off campus housing can get complicated—unless you agree upon those terms up front. Make sure each roommate knows what they are responsible for paying each month—and pay those bills on time. Renting in college can be a great way to build up your credit history.

6. Talk to your roommates. Do this often. Before you move in, discuss what kinds of furniture, kitchen supplies and other things your roommates will be bringing to your apartment. Throughout the school year, talk to your roommates about cleaning responsibilities and having guests over. Keeping the communication lines open will make for a happier school year for everyone.

7. Update your address. For any monthly bills, magazine subscriptions or personal mail, you’ll want to update your address for the school year. Do this early, so you’re not missing anything that is meant for you from the start.

8. Don’t forget to decorate. Once you get the formalities out of the way, don’t forget to make your new housing feel like home. Decorate your bedroom and common areas so you enjoy studying and spending free time in your own place.

9. Use your kitchen. We know, daily coffee runs and ordering out may seem a lot easier than cooking for yourself, particularly while you’re trying to study or participate in extracurricular activities. But you’ll save some money and likely be a bit healthier if you prepare at least some of your meals at home. You’re renting the kitchen too—so be sure to use it!  

10. Consider renter’s insurance. Of course, you don’t want to think about something like a fire, burglary or other damaging event happening at your apartment. But in the event that you need to deal with any of those things, renter’s insurance can help to make them a little more bearable.  

Get the upcoming semester started off right by being prepared in your new off-campus housing. And if you’re still looking for the right rental for the school year, let us help!