Are you making the move off-campus this year? Though very exciting, it can also be stressful finding the right space that works for you, figuring out your budget, and most importantly: moving yourself and settling in before classes start!
Follow these steps to make your move to off-campus housing as smooth and stress-free as possible!
Step One: Evaluate your budget before making the move.
The key to moving off-campus comfortably is figuring out your budget. First estimate your monthly income if you are working. If not and you plan to use loans while you finish school, figure out how much you have in the bank from your loan and come up with an amount you’re comfortable spending monthly. If your parents are helping you with your bills while you finish university, talk to them about what they’re comfortable paying. (Tip: off-campus housing is often a bit more affordable than dorm life, so check your room and board costs from last year to get an idea of where to start.)
You should keep your monthly housing expenses under 30% of your monthly income, or monthly allotted amount to spend on expenses. If possible, keep it way under 30%. Find a roommate or two to share the space with, and be mindful of unexpected costs like parking and utilities when you’re budgeting.
Don’t forget to budget for items like furnishings for the new place, public transport, school supplies, books, meals, and transport to and from home during the holidays. Factor in any incidental spending like going out to dinner with your friends and the occasional shopping trip.
Step Two: Choose a safe and beneficial location for your housing.
Once you determine what you’re comfortable spending on rent, figure out where you want to live. If your university has a student affairs office that can help with off-campus housing, take advantage of that resource. They may have relationships with brokers or landlords in close proximity to campus that can be a great place to start.
You may be tempted to live a bit further away from campus, but remember, there’s a possibility that you’ll have an odd 8 a.m. class that you’ll need to make it to, so keep transportation time in mind. If you’ll be driving, you’ll need to think about parking, as well as gas costs. If you’ll be taking the bus, test out a few routes until you find one that you’re comfortable with (and gets you to class on time)!
Your ideal neighborhood should have at least a few other students in the area, as well as some nearby restaurants, grocery stores and pharmacies—the necessities.
Step Three: Start the off-campus housing search early.
Start the search for an apartment about 2 months before you need to move in. The beginning of the semester is often a busy period for the housing market, so there may not be a ton of inventory: if you can afford to move in during the months of July or August, you might have a better selection to choose from. Schedule a few appointments and start pounding the pavement.
Some important questions to ask during the tour of your potential new home include:
- Is there a laundry room in the building?
- Are the utilities included in the rent?
- What am I required to pay up front?
- First month’s rent and security? Or first, last and security?
- Is there a broker or agent fee?
- Does the front entryway door lock securely?
Check for signs that the property is well maintained, like swept and vacuumed hallways, kitchens and bathrooms that are in good shape, and overall cleanliness.
Keep in mind that you could be pulling some late nights at the library, so it’s important to live in a neighborhood where you feel safe at all times of the day and night.
Step Four: Evaluate and sign your new housing lease
Once you find a place in your budget that works for you, it’s time to apply and sign! You might need a parent or guardian to co-sign the lease with you.
We know it’s a long document, but it’s essential that you read your entire off-campus apartment lease (twice)! You might be surprised by clauses that require odd things, like carpeting on over 80% of the flooring, or quiet hours between 10pm and 9am. Ask your landlord any questions you may have and if something seems fishy to you, don’t sign.
Step Five: Move into your new off-campus space!
Once you sign on the dotted lines, you’re all set: the last thing you need to do is move in! Come up with the best strategy for you and your belongings to make it to your destination safely and securely.
Your family and friends will probably offer some helping hands, but sometimes, moving off-campus can require more than a few hands can handle. Professional movers will make your move more efficient, safer and easier for all parties involved. Plus, if an item breaks in transit, you’re insured for the cost to replace it.
At Dowell’s, we have a team of professional movers that have the proper equipment and experience necessary for a safe and easy move. All you need to do is pack and give us a call! To get an estimate, or schedule your move today, call Dowell’s Moving & Storage at 250-361-9866!