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Off Campus Housing: Facts Before Ink!

Collegiates, it may finally be that time you have all been anxiously awaiting…getting your very own first apartment!  Altogether, this process can be extremely overwhelming and daunting; but with careful planning, your efforts will be quite rewarding. Remember: it is never too early to start searching. But you need to get all of your facts before you put your name on a lease. 
 
Here are a few key points to keep in mind to help you manage this exciting process…

  • Look for a place that is safe and is in close proximity to campus.
  • It is really convenient to go back to your own apartment during breaks between classes. A train ride or long walk will definitely prevent this luxury. It is also much more affordable to be able to come home for meals. 
  • Ask yourself; does the location feel safe? Will it be creepy at night walking back alone in the dark after a late class? Don’t hesitate to check with the local police to research the area you are considering.
  • A popular neighborhood in Boston is Beacon Hill, which is filled with charming streets of quaint brownstones.  Although pricier than some of the other areas, Beacon Hill is safe and filled with tons of cool apartments…some even have rooftop decks or courtyards!

 

  • The North End, Newbury Street, and Fenway are also competitive rental areas for college students in the Boston area.
  • It is crucial to pick out roommates that you will get along living with, and who have similar hobbies and interests.
  • Make sure you are close to a food store…and laundromat if necessary, this will prevent unnecessary stresses about grocery shopping and getting laundry done.
  • How many flights of stairs will you have to deal with? Don’t forget about moving furniture in and out and carrying laundry baskets full of clothes!
  • Make sure you understand all of the upfront costs associated with a rental.  Many areas will require a realtor’s fee (equal to one month rent), first and last month’s rent for security, and the first month’s rent paid in advance.
  • Be sure to understand exactly what utilities are included in your rent. Heat and hot water? Electricity?

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Now comes the fun part: decorating!  There are many places to shop for inexpensive, but chic furniture items you may need. Think functional pieces!  Since space will most likely be tight, each piece should have a useful purpose (always keep extra storage in mind).  Here are some great pieces to consider for your first place:

  • Amazon and Target have trendy high tables where you can enjoy your meals and have extra counter/working space. You can also search for a gently used outdoor bistro set for your kitchen:

  • You may find a really unique piece of furniture you want to base your room design around.  Once you find this piece, you can pick out a fun, bright color scheme for that room. Take, for example, this versatile, bright Mali Blue Futon from Target. It is extremely functional, and can be placed in the living room area for a cozy lounge sofa when watching movies as well as a bed for overnight guests:

 

  • Trunks or cubes are perfect to use for coffee tables and nightstands, and also provide extra storage space. Check out tag sales!

  • Be creative with a headboard…you can have fun and achieve a spectacular look using things you may have in your basement or attic!
  • Cubbies are always perfect storage options as well.

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A Few Pros and Cons of Off Campus Living…

PROS:

  • Living in an apartment can definitely be cheaper than campus housing.
  • More privacy, independence, and space. As we all know, closet space in dorm rooms is completely unacceptable for our trendy wardrobes!
  • Say farewell to cafeteria food…you now have the freedom to cook your own meals and prepare delicious snacks whenever you please.
  • It will be much easier to focus on homework and sleep without the distractions and annoying loud noise that comes with every college dorm hallway.
  • You can entertain whenever you like!
  • Your own clean bathroom and shower (shared with only a few roommates).  In some cases, you may luck out and have a bathtub!

 
CONS:

  • More time spent on responsibilities and housework, such as cleaning, cooking, and grocery shopping.
  • Having an apartment may make you feel disconnected from the whole traditional college environment and community in addition to activities occurring on campus.
  • Off Campus living can actually turn out to be more expensive than on campus living if you do not budget carefully. You have to take into consideration the extra expenses, such as: weekly trips for groceries, furniture items, heat/hot water, and other appliances.

 
In the end, living on campus versus living off campus really comes down to personal choice. It is crucial to take all of the pros and cons into consideration for your final decision. It may be helpful to visit the off campus-housing department at your school, or talk to upperclassmen that have off campus housing.  Good luck searching, and always remember, get all of your facts before you put your name in permanent ink!

My name is Alexa Mellardo and I am currently a sophomore and Broadcast Journalism major at Suffolk University, located in the heart of one of the most charming cities in the world: Boston. A passionate journalist, I am fortunate to be doing what I love to do….writing! When I’m not composing articles for two awesome online publications (hercampus.com and also collegefashionista.com) and attending classes, I intern at a trendy magazine in the city. In between, I love to shop and spend time with my friends and my boyfriend. I have two addictions: shopping and cupcakes. In light of that, what better place to be than just blocks away from Newbury Street, Charles Street and Quincy Market? My quaint, vintage brownstone apartment in Beacon Hill is where my two best friends and I keep it strictly classy and fashionable. We turned our apartment into a comfy fashionable haven, and we enjoy relaxing and entertaining our friends. Living in such an awesome city provides a wealth of opportunity, fun, and culture to embrace. My dream is to one day be a respected, well-known broadcast journalist.
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