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Living Off Campus: Tips to Help You Get Started

Renting your first apartment is definitely an exciting moment and a threshold in most people’s lives. These are your first steps towards adulthood, and it’s the perfect opportunity for you to learn about financial independence and responsibility. It also comes with a lot of fun moments and decisions you’re in charge of, such as organizing and decorating your apartment.

Yet, it takes a lot of researching and preparing, in order to not only get a good deal, but avoid rental scams and losing money. So, to help you out, we’ve put together a list of tips you can use to get started with renting your first apartment off campus. Here’s what you should know.

Finding an Apartment

The first thing you should do is write down a list of things you need from your apartment, some conditions for you to have a basis in your search. This should include how many rooms you need, a location that you prefer, amenities whose absence would be a deal breaker, etc. Make sure to prioritize the items on the list, in order to know where you can compromise and where you can’t.

Then, draft your budget. Apart from deciding on how much you can spend each month on rent and utilities, you should also consider budgeting for the upfront, one-time costs, such as application fees, security deposit, processing fees, etc. Depending on the list you’ve just drafted, you can use a rent calculator tool to see how much you will likely pay for your requirements in the city you’re moving to.

And now it’s time to find an apartment. First of all, choose a website with 100% verified listings, to make sure you stay away from possible scams. Start by filtering according to your budget and space needs, and then browse through the apartments you like. During these times, it’s probably not going to be easy to view the apartment in person, so try to get in touch with the property manager or landlord to discuss your criteria and to ask them all the necessary questions. Then, ask if they offer the option of a self-guided tour, so that you make sure the apartment is what you need.

Moving In

After you’ve found the apartment you love, it’s time to sign the lease. For this step, you’ll want to prepare a list of questions regarding the apartment and your stay there. You should focus on discussing which utilities are included in the rent, what kind of changes lead to the loss of your security deposit, how are repairs managed and where can you submit maintenance requests, how are the payments handled and are there any late fees, etc. Remember to write them all down and have the list with you; in the excitement of the moment, you might forget some of the questions you need to know the answer to.

After signing the lease, it’s time to get ready for moving in. You should create a checklist for your college apartment with all the essentials you need, from furniture to cleaning supplies. Try to prioritize items and be careful not to overpack. A lot of the things you might think are necessary can actually be bought from anywhere, once you’ve moved in. Get moving supplies and check whether a moving company is the best fit for you or whether you can move with the help of your family. Before unpacking, clean the apartment thoroughly, to make sure you get a fresh start.

Living in the Apartment

After unpacking and arranging your rooms, you are now living in your first apartment. It’s important to know how to be safe and secure, so consider investing in a renter’s insurance to make sure you’re covered in case of accidents. Also, familiarize yourself with the renter legislation in your state and city, as you should be aware of your rights and obligations. Update your address for subscriptions and make sure the important people in your life have your new address as well.

Now the fun part begins. After covering these issues and double checking that you’re all set up, it’s time to live the exciting life of a first-time renter and take your first steps towards adulthood, responsibility and financial independence. Good luck!