Guide to Off Campus Housing

If you are a sophomore or a junior, then you’re most likely thinking about off-campus housing right about now. Although it might seem like everyone has her act together and friend groups are already signing leases, it’s not too late! Here are some things to consider when searching for an apartment and signing a lease:

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The Search

  1. Check out websites such as www.jumpoffcampus.com to find apartments in the area.
  2. Sublet if you won’t be there full time. If you’re planning on going abroad one of the two semesters that you’ll be living off campus, make sure your landlord allows subletting and plan ahead! If you and three friends are going abroad in the fall, and you know four other friends going abroad in the spring, then have one group sign a lease for the full year and the other group sublet!
  3. Find a good group of people to live with. Although it might seem like a fun idea to live with your best friends, housing can become unnecessarily dramatic so make sure you plan on living with people that you can trust and who will be considerate of what you want and need.
  4. Make an appointment with Financial Aid. If you’re unsure about how you’ll be able to afford living off campus, meet with your Financial Aid Counselor. They are more than willing to go over your costs and scholarships to help you make sure that living off campus is the best choice for you financially.
  5. Tour the apartment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, because if you choose this apartment, you deserve to know exactly what to expect for the next year or two.
  6. Consider safety. The closer you live to campus, the safer you will be. Look for houses in the immediate areas around Clark like Beaver, Woodbine, Florence, Charlotte, Clifton, Downing or Main Street. If escort doesn’t reach the house, then it’s probably a safer bet to look a bit closer to campus.
  7. Factor in utilities and groceries. You’ve probably heard a ton of people say “living off campus is way cheaper than on campus,” which is true in most cases but there are hidden costs. When considering an apartment, ask the landlord how much the average utility bill is per month.

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Applying

  1. Have your information ready. Most landlords will ask for basic information, but you’ll most likely need to know your parents’ or guardians’ income, so be prepared.
  2. Get a co-signer. This person will be held responsible in the case that you don’t pay your rent, and you will most likely need to name them on the application. Odds are you don’t have enough credit built up to not have a co-signer, so consider asking a parent or a family friend who trusts you!
  3. Find a reference. This can be anyone from a previous landlord, to a friend who has known you your whole life.
  4. Know your status. Some landlords are really good at keeping you updated on how many other people are looking at the house, how many have already applied, etc. But some landlords are sneaky and won’t be open with you about where you stand. Don’t be afraid to call and follow up to find out where you are in the process and what further steps you need to take. 

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Signing

  1. Know what you are getting yourself into. Make sure you trust the landlord and feel comfortable with them! If a landlord is rushing you to make a decision or make a deposit, then they might not be the right person to sign a lease with. A landlord who is patient and understanding of your questions, and who even offers to talk to your parents about the house and the signing process is a good person to sign with.
  2. Read the lease. Leases usually aren’t that long so it’s a good idea to at least skim through it to know what your rights are, and what you could possibly be held accountable for. If you’ve never signed a lease before, definitely send it to your parents to have them read over it as well.
  3. Consider renter’s insurance. Although you’ll most likely only be in the apartment a year or two, renter’s insurance might be a good investment and it’s not as expensive as you might think!
  4. Clark Craigslist. The Clark Craigslist Facebook group can be a lifesaver, especially when looking for furniture for your apartment. Why spend $200 on a new bed frame that you’ll have to sell after a year, when you can buy one for half the price from a fellow Clarkie?

Good luck finding your next home sweet (college) home, collegiettes!

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