As thousands of first-year college students prepare to move into their dorms this fall, even more upperclassmen are excited to finally move into their off-campus apartments. However, the thrill of living on your own for the first time can easily be overshadowed by the stress that comes with finding housing. Differentiating between good and bad landlords, finding a place that’s decently affordable, and making sure you pick the right roommates is enough to make anyone feel stressed. Luckily, you don’t need to start from scratch. Here are a few tips for finding off-campus housing before you get ready to move this fall.
- Attend housing events through your school.
Many universities will have housing fairs or other events where local rental companies come by to share information about their facilities. This is a great opportunity to learn what your options are and make connections with potential landlords. Plus, there’s a high chance an event like this will have free food!
- Find a school-sponsored site.
Some schools have a website specifically for students to find housing and roommates. CU Boulder, for example, has a site called Ralphie’s List where students can search for apartments, share info about empty apartments or rooms, and find roommates with similar habits. Sites like this are similar to Facebook pages, which can also be worth checking out, but are often more secure and reliable, since they are supported by the university.
- Check in with your personal connections.
If you’re having trouble finding a place, ask around! Chat with friends, classmates, or fellow club members to see if anyone is looking for a roommate. Spread the word to friends of friends as well — you never know who has an extra bedroom.
- Take a tour and meet your landlord.
It is highly recommended that you tour a place before committing to live there. See if you can meet with your landlord (or a representative, if you’re renting through a company) before you move in to ask questions. Now is the time to make sure you are both on the same page before anyone signs any legal documents. It’s also smart to make a note of anything that is broken or worn, so you don’t get charged for the damages.
- Read your lease carefully, and get legal advice if you need it.
Yes, reading legal documents is boring, but in this case it is necessary. Read through your lease in detail before you sign it. Make sure you know your responsibilities as a tenant, and check for any extra fees that could pop up. You will probably need to co-sign your lease with a parent or guardian, so make sure they are up-to-date as well.
Finding off-campus housing for school can be a challenge, but following these tips can make your search a little easier. Good luck!