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January 24th, 2012,
Off Campus Housing

By Noël Rozny
Web Editor & Content Manager

Dorm life is great for a lot of things: becoming BFF with your roommate, learning how to cook gourmet dinners with a microwave, and all-night study sessions with classmates.

The downside? Listening to a suite mate fight with his girlfriend for the 8 millionth time. Sharing four showers with 40 people. Being subjected to the cafeteria “mystery meat” every Tuesday.

If you’ve decided that you’ve had enough with dorm living and are ready to get your own apartment off-campus, there are few things you’ll need to know before you move.

Tips for Moving Off-Campus

Get a House or Apartment in Advance
Depending on what your college campus or town is like, housing may go fast. The college town I went to school in was so competitive that we signed leases an entire year in advance. As soon as you decide that you want to move off campus, start asking around and find out when landlords start signing leases for the coming school year. By getting a jump start, you can usually get a better deal on your apartment.

Make a Budget
One plus side of living in the dorms is that all of your expenses – food, water, electricity, heat – are included in your bill. Once you get out on your own, you’ll have to add these bills into your monthly budget. Don’t forget to factor in the security deposit as well; most landlords require anywhere from one month to two months of rent in advance when you sign the lease, so start saving now.

Having Roommates is Cheaper
The idea of having your own apartment can be really alluring – until you look at the rent. Going in with some of your friends on an apartment or a house can be a much cheaper way to move off-campus. In addition to splitting the rent, you’ll also be sharing the costs for utilities, which can reduce your bills even further. For those roommates who agree to pool funds and grocery shop at Costco together, you can save even more money. (Just make sure to establish some rules about groceries, as food wards can escalate quickly if one roommate takes more than his or her share!)

Figure Out Furniture
Another plus to living in the dorm is that you don’t have to bring your own furniture. Depending on what kind of house or apartment you rent, it may come with basic furnishings, such as a bed, dresser and desk. If your new place isn’t furnished, talk to your parents and relatives to see if anyone has hand-me-down couches, chairs or tables they’re willing to party with. Coordinate with your roommates so there isn’t any overlap in what you bring, and don’t forget that you’ll still need to pick up necessities like plats, cups, silverware, and other kitchen and household items.

If you plan ahead and budget carefully, you may even find that moving off-campus saves you money over the course of your college career.