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A Busy Girl’s Guide to Moving Off Campus

Whether the dream started freshman year when your horrible random roommate came crashing in at three a.m. every morning or after one too many midnight fire alarms in an American Campus Community building, everyone eventually reaches the point when they want to move off campus. While the task may seem daunting, complicated, and headache inducing, it is feasible! We’ve gathered some of the best tips to handling the apartment search and more to successfully move of campus – all without breaking a nail or wine bottle in the process.


1. Start Early – like now.

Time is precious, especially during spring term, so starting early in your apartment search is necessary. I’m not saying you need to sign a lease for September right this second but you should have some idea of what you’re looking for, if you’ll want roommates, and what neighborhood you want to be in. Start paying attention to the apartment buildings and houses you walk by daily to see if any catch your eye or offer features you’d enjoy having. Popular/cheap places will occasionally have wait list for units so the sooner you get your name down, the better and easier it will be for you once lease-signing-time comes.


2. Identify the “Must-Haves”

Do you need a walk-in closet? Are you a fan of baths? Is an elevator an important factor for your choice of lifestyle? These are only some of the questions you need to ask yourself before looking for a new place. Analyze the likes and dislikes of your current situation and then organize them on paper in columns of “Need.” “Want” and “Indifferent.” The Indifferent column is optional, but can be handy to keep track of every factor you think of so you don’t consider “overhead lighting” for the fifth time. Be realistic about what you need – you’re not Blair Waldorf with an unlimited trust fund and the option to rent a 2-bedroom overlooking Rittenhouse Square facing the sunset. Writing your likes and dislikes down also helps you stick to the list as it requires much more effort, and a pencil, to move air conditioning from the want column to the need column. Don’t forget to run this list by your parents and other experienced apartment shoppers as they can help keep things in perspective as well as remind you of important needs you might not have considered.


3. Research, Research, Research

Now that you’ve identified the important features you need in your apartment, it’s time to start researching for available units. Popular rental sites include Philly Apartment Co. , Zillow, or Craigslist, especially if you’re looking to avoid apartment complexes and management groups. Local property groups include Pearl, PMC and William Penn Realty. Identify price points for certain layouts and keep track of what each unit/building offers. Since life gets busy and you won’t be able to research all apartments in one day, a spreadsheet is the best way to keep track of everything you view. Make sure to take note of important features like price, square footage, location, internet/tv options, and any other category that you deemed necessary in part two. It will probably take one or two weeks to gather a satisfactory amount of options and then another week to narrow it down to your top three to six options


4. Start Reaching Out and Saving Boxes

After you’ve established your top choices, start calling around to see if they’re even viable options. Don’t be discouraged if they can’t give you exact availability for the apartments yet – it’s better than an outright “no vacancy” message. Ask when you should reach out again and make sure to do so a few days before then and no later than the date they mention. You want to show how much you’re interested so they know to treat your inquiries seriously. This is also the best time to start keeping your Amazon boxes so you can use them for packing later. It doesn’t matter the size, just break them all down and store them under your bed or in the back of your closet so they can be used when needed. If you’re not much of an online shopper, ask the bookstore and grocery stores if they have any boxes you could have for free. As a last resort, you can also order some affordable ones from Amazon or U-Haul.


5. Establish a Packing Timeline and Stick to It!

Once a move-in date has been agreed upon, draft up a list of what to pack and when to pack it. Winter items can often be packed up first as they won’t be used much during the next few months, with warm weather clothing and essentials being assigned the last packing day. This can be hard but you just need to be realistic about what you use on a daily/weekly basis. DVDs and Books can often be packed early, along with old notebooks and jewelry. Nothing is worse than having 12-hours to pack up everything in one place and successfully move it to another without losing an item or your sanity. By packing a little bit every week, the moving process will seem much less daunting. You could be the “Ann” in the gif above if you follow this advice!


6. Keep Track of What Was Packed Where

Despite all efforts to be realistic about what you need for the weeks between packing and moving, it is inevitable that you will pack up something you need that requires immediate retrieval. If you keep a list of what items went in each box and assign numbers to each box, the recovery effort will be much easier than originally feared. This will also be useful when moving in to your new place as boxes with bathroom items can easily be directed to the bathroom instead of dumping everything in your living room to sort through for the next two weeks. It might seem like a waste of time in the beginning, but it’ll be worth the time you saved in the end – trust me.


7. Rally the Troops

(you had to know this was coming)

This may be the most important step as you cannot move on your own. Well, you can, but it’s super hard and it sucks. Bribe your friends with gas money and free pizza to borrow their cars and their man power to move boxes into your new pad. This is especially necessary if moving furniture or the box full of your shoes. Having an extra pair of hands to unpack and organize will make it go faster and your friends can also offer advice on furniture placement and décor.


Life gets busy and moving can get stressful. Hopefully with this guide some of the stress is alleviated, or at the least spread out over four months.


Rep Image provided by Nicolas Huk on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/1723305804 

Lindsey is a senior at Drexel University, majoring in operations management & bus. analytics. She has been with Her Campus Drexel for four years and was CC for the middle two. Along with living the city life, she takes an active interest in street style, putting together puzzles and binge-watching her current Netflix obsession. She actually calls Montana her true home so now you can say you know that someone actually lives there ;). When she's in Philly, you can find her in Center City scouring the racks of thrift stores, Old Navy, and H&M if she's not on campus enjoying the multiple food trucks or catching up on the readings she put off until the last day.
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