College is your first opportunity for independence. If you have decided to live off campus, remember that renting can be challenging and will require responsibility. Before you sign a lease, keep these tips in mind.


You must clearly define a budget and determine your affordable monthly rent. A good way to determine this number is to add your income and multiply it by 0.3 to get 30% of your monthly salary. Keeping your goal near or below this number ensures that you have enough cash to live comfortably. You may also want to consider getting a roommate to help with the bills. Ask your friends or post announcements around campus. If you have pets, you’ll need to make sure each apartment you view allows pets, and you’ll also need to consider pet fees and deposits when budgeting.


Once you’re sure you can afford an off-campus space, you need to decide what kind of place you’re looking for and what amenities you can’t live without. Some students don’t mind driving to class every day, while others prefer to ride a bike or walk. A safe and convenient location is crucial. Some properties offer more up-to-date features like your own on-site washer and dryer unit, while others have a community coin-operated machine. Depending on your location, central heating or air may be a necessity. Larger complexes might have swimming pools, on-site gyms, rooftop spaces, or a variety of other amenities. Knowing what you need and want in your new place will help simplify your search, as well as save you time and money.


Once you’ve identified your ideal characteristics, it’s time to look at apartments for rent. Start at your new school. Many colleges are affiliated with off-campus apartments, and others can provide resources or recommend rental properties that are popular with students. This will ensure that your neighbors are your companions. Another option is to find apartments through online rental ads and classifieds. There are also probably listings for rental spaces and roommates all over campus. Look on community bulletin boards or an online community page for more potential offers.


Once your search has turned up a few leads, it’s time to start calling leasing offices. Narrow your list down to three or five properties and get ready to start looking at them. Viewing rentals is very exciting and the prospect of owning your own place can be distracting. You will need to bring a checklist to each property you see to keep up to date. The checklist will include basic safety standards and common problems such as faulty plumbing, broken doors/cabines, kitchen appliances, and marked walls/floors. You can make a custom checklist or download a generic one from the Internet, but don’t sign a lease without checking basic security and verifying that everything works. Any minor issues you notice in the place you decide to rent should be recorded and reported to your apartment manager. Don’t get stuck paying for damages caused by a previous tenant.


Apply for apartments one at a time, starting with your first choice. Each location can charge up to $50 for an application fee and if your first choice accepts it, there is no need to spend that money. If this is your first time renting, some apartments for rent will have a first-timer policy, but you may need a co-signer to apply due to poor credit. When you sign, be prepared to fork over two months plus fees like security deposits and pet expenses. Leases are usually valid for a term of 6 or 12 months. Read the entire document before you sign to make sure you’re not surprised by hidden late fees or other expenses.

Good luck searching for apartments for rent and remember, take your time and select a space you like, but don’t blow your monthly budget. Ask a counselor at your school for resources or start contacting leasing offices in your area today. Move in soon to your new home!

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