Have you ever considered living off campus? Like any decision in life, you have to weigh the pros and cons. Believe it or not, that itself is a long process. Pros might include cheaper cost of living, a sense of independence, no RAs (Resident Assistants), and not having an overly expensive meal plan with food you do not enjoy. Not having a meal plan might also be considered a con because it requires work on your end to make food, and also pay for it. Other cons include the commute to your university and therefore gas money and parking difficulties, a larger space to clean, etc. It’s a wild ride, but you might decide moving off campus is just the thing for you. I’ve realized, regardless of the struggle, the end result and the pros, will be worth it and outweigh the cons that are minor in my opinion. I will be saving my parents a lot on college expenses by taking this route. That is important to me.
So, if you are contemplating it, here are a few pieces of advice:
1. Decide the year before you plan on doing so!
For example, I am in my second semester as a junior in college. I knew move in day of this year that I was interested in living off campus.
2. Find people dedicated to being on board and live with!
Living alone, although is right for some, is not that much fun so find people you know you can trust and really get along with and get house hunting. By the end of the fall semester this year, I had my set roommates that wanted to join in with me on this new journey.
3. Agree on a rent price range and get looking/contacting!
The sooner the better! Each person should be in agreement on an overall price as well as a location. With the Internet it’s easy to utilize renting resources. Some great websites include: Homes.com, Rent.com, Zillow.com, and much more. You should also check to see if your university has any associations with rent websites. The University of New Haven works with a site called JumpOffCampus. Keep in mind that whatever price is listed on the site generally DOES NOT include utilities. Utilities can range anywhere from $50-$100. Account for this in your overall budget.
4. Visit the Location, always!
If you were one of those people that selected your college without seeing it, do not do that when it comes to selecting a house. It seems like common sense, but Internet pictures do not tell all. Also, Google maps will not tell you what an area looks and feels like to be living in. Location should be a number one priority. Everyone’s safety is imperative.
5. Ask questions!
Get to know the potential apartment or house you’d like to consider renting inside and out. Looking at places to live is not something you hold your questions on. There is no such thing as a stupid question. Even if the website listing has the answer and you aren’t sure of something, it’s ok to ask again. One important question to ask should be about the utilities. For example, which are included if any and which are not. If they were not, how much they would approximately cost.
6. Weigh the Pros and Cons!
Once you have narrowed it down to a few places. Similar to how you weighed pros and cons on considering on or off campus housing, compare and contrast each home and make your pick. Throughout the process always make sure that everyone involved is in the loop. It is a very stressful process and it’s important you all stick together.
If you are “going solo” in the experience you obviously only have one person to worry about, yourself. However, even alone you will have pros and cons to each place you find and it is important you talk over with a parent or friend to get outsider opinions on your potential places.
7. Pick your place, place your deposit, and move in!
It’s ideal that you have a place decided before you leave for the summer. That way, you have the summer to purchase anything you need and also move in anything you need to into your new temporary home! Last but not least, enjoy your new journey in life with this experience!