Two weeks ago, my roommate and I moved into our off-campus apartment. For us, finding and choosing the place was a surprisingly quick process, and we signed the lease two days after spotting the listing. While we certainly lucked out, there are a lot of logistical and safety measures you must take during the process. Here are my recommendations for a smooth transition to off-campus living!
- Finding an Apartment
During our apartment search, we primarily used Zillow, a rental/seller’s listing website for homeowners. We were obviously successful in using it, but I have heard stories of scam listings on the website where an “agent” will steal your information then ghost. Sometimes, the scammer will even impersonate a real agent. So, while I do think Zillow is the best, most accessible option for finding a place, definitely be careful on there! Also, since COVID-19, social distancing is a must, most apartment tours are happening virtually. We found ours to be helpful and accurate, but proceed with caution when looking at these since they can be edited.
- Signing the Lease
We finally landed in our current apartment for a couple of reasons. Firstly, we loved the apartment itself! Specifically, the landlord recently renovated the kitchen and installed new hardwood floors that are to DIE for! Also, both of our bedrooms are incredibly spacious which is especially helpful as some of our classes are online. Secondly, the agent advertising the listing was very honest, forthcoming, and responsive. We trusted him, which is essential during the apartment hunt, especially when virtual tours are the norm and there is so much opportunity to scam someone. Finally, our apartment is in the perfect location-- just a mere 5 minutes away from Central Campus. I would full-heartedly recommend looking at these factors and coinciding them with the cost when deciding on a place.
- Setting Up Your Future Home
Before moving in, there were several projects we needed to tackle. Firstly, while heat and hot water are covered by rent, we needed to set up our internet and electricity services. We found the set-up for both to be fairly easy but time-consuming since we had to work over the phone. Secondly, we had to divide up cost and logistics for purchasing the communal items in the apartment. My roommate and I created a Google Doc to itemize everything and found it very helpful. We also discussed what we wanted/needed for the apartment and how we would integrate both of our styles on the list. I would definitely encourage planning ahead for purchasing the communal items, especially those that are pricey and a hassle to move in.
- Moving In
Move-in was chaotic, to say the least. We had to carry everything up three flights of stairs. Boy, did my calves feel it afterward! Upon move-in, we also noticed some maintenance issues, which is fairly common for renting. We found it helpful to keep a running list of the problems as we noticed them rather than going back and trying to remember everything later on. Since moving off-campus versus the dorms requires so much more furniture and supplies, it may not all happen in a couple of hours like you’re used to. That is okay! The most important thing is to take care of your mental and physical health. If you bulldoze through move-in, you’ll be fatigued and probably forget necessary steps along the way.
- The First Week and Beyond
As you settle into your new place, be sure to reach out to the landlord and those in charge of maintenance. You want to build good relationships with these individuals to make living in the apartment is as smooth as possible. Also, be sure to tip anyone who handles the maintenance issues in your place! You may want to set up a cleaning schedule with your roommate(s), and figure out logistics such as who will be in the apartment and when.