4 Things to Consider as a College Renter

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College will be one of the most memorable times of your life. You make new friends, start a path to your dream career, and gain a new sense of independence. As a college student, you typically have three options for housing: living on campus, living off-campus, or commuting. While all three options come with their pros and cons, it’s important to consider what option will work best for you.

Many college students typically look to live off-campus after their freshman or sophomore year. This is because they don’t have to adhere to the sometimes strict on-campus housing requirements, such as swiping in, dealing with RAs, and having to share a communal bathroom with dozens of students.

However, off-campus housing isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, either. One of the biggest stresses is finding an off-campus house or apartment that’s within your budget and is actually habitable. Often, landlords know they’re renting to college students, so they don’t take the time to invest in the property and make it look nice and clean.

To ensure you have an enjoyable off-campus housing experience, it’s important you do your due diligence when finding a place to stay. Take a look at our list of four things to consider as a college renter.

1. Don’t wait for a rental—act fast

The housing market in college towns is cutthroat. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of students competing for one of the few off-campus houses or apartments in the area. This means you need to act fast and get a head start on looking for an apartment or home.

With school typically starting in late August or early September, it’s best to begin looking for a rental at the end of the previous school year—anywhere between May and July. If you think you can wait a few weeks before school starts to find a place, think again. Most landlords in college areas sign leases that run from June-June, July-July, or August-August, making these the best months to find an apartment.

To choose the right rental, you can work with a realtor who knows the area, or you can drive around your college town looking for “For Rent” signs. Another way is networking with current off-campus seniors who are graduating. They often give their landlord recommendations for groups of students looking to occupy the house or apartment the following year. Once you find a place, act fast and get your application, rental credit report, and other information to your new landlord as soon as possible before they change their mind.

2. Look at proximity

Oversleeping and running late to your 8 am class is a rite of passage for all college students. Whether you were up late studying or partying, the last thing you want is to be running late the next day and living 30-minutes away from campus. As you look for rentals, set boundaries, such as a 1 to 3 mile radius. This way, you can run, bike, or drive to campus without being too far away.

3. Set a budget

Every college student is on a shoestring budget. You don’t want to sign an expensive lease to a fancy apartment with accommodations you don’t really need, which can put a serious hole in your wallet. You want to be able to enjoy all college has to offer, such as weekend movie nights with your roomies, nights out on the town, or the occasional dinner at a nearby restaurant to take a break from the cafeteria food. By going into your off-campus housing search with a budget in place, you’ll be able to find an apartment that’s within your means without splurging.

4. Look into roommates

One of the easiest ways to cut down your housing costs is by finding roommates. Roommates are a great idea for many reasons. You always have someone you can talk to, you can decorate it however you please, and you can make memories that will last a lifetime.

As you look for apartments, consider the number of bedrooms you might need. Whether you plan on living with six roommates or just one, it’s important to know how much space you need. And if you’re having trouble finding a roommate, there are plenty of resources that can help you find one, such as Craigslist or Bumble BFF.

Becoming a college renter

As you start your house-hunting journey for your upcoming college year, it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into. With these four things to consider as a college renter, you’ll find an off-campus house or apartment that you’ll be able to call your own.

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