Complete Guide to Finding & Leasing Off-Campus College Housing

Attention fellow college students! Those who still have not found “new home” or still looking for housing for upcoming Fall Semester 2017 or even upcoming summer, whether it’s on-campus or off-campus, let me help! I understand what’s it like with so many options both on and off-campus housing and the process of finding the perfect place can be very stressful. I hope the information below can help equip students and their families with the knowledge necessary to make an informed decision on where to live during college.

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Pros vs. Cons: Live On-Campus or Off-Campus?
The location is one of the most crucial choices a student can make during their college years. Most schools require freshman year students to live on-campus, but the decision of whether to continue in university housing or move into private housing requires great thought, research and weighing the pros and cons of each. Ultimately, the individual needs of a student will most likely be the main deciding factor. Let’s look at few factors of choosing to live on-campus (including university residence halls or private apartments).

Living On-Campus Housing
There is numerous beneficial and positive experience for students living on campuses. Students will have the opportunity to engage in student activities, making friends in residence halls or apartments, getting some extra sleep, not worrying about getting to and from school, campus accommodation can remove a lot of stress and allow students to focus on their studies. The downsides, however, are a lack of privacy and higher costs. Let’s look at the list of pros and cons living on-campus housing.

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Living Off-Campus Housing
Just as living on-campus provides beneficial, the off-campus accommodation provides many benefits for students, including increased independence, lower costs, great freedom and more space for yourself. Whether living alone or with friends or family, some may find it is beneficial to leave campus each day and unwind away from school pressures. On the other hand, others want to be as connected as possible, to fully engage with the university activities, events and any social gatherings with friends. The table below shares some pros and cons of the living off-campus housing.

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Every Student-Renter Must and Needs to Know
Students who are ready to step on more responsibility and independence is a great option for renting off-campus housings. For any students renting an apartment for the first time, the process can seem extremely overwhelming. There are many considerations, such as finding an apartment, perfect fit accommodations, choosing roommate(s) to sign a lease, bills, and much more.

1. Finding an Apartment or House

Students should begin by searching for housing in advance of their decision to move off-campus because often the best available options and popular housing tend to be leased quickly than the others that are available. Students should also consider proximity to campus, whether the neighborhood is safe, how many roommates they want, and what their budget (utilities) is. There are many available resources for students to search for accommodation, such as Craigslist, College Rentals, Rent is great resources to start.

2. Selecting Roommates

One of the most important factors and the decision is choosing a roommate, which may require great thoughts. Students during their freshman year in college most likely have already experienced living with a roommate in a residence hall or university housing. Living off-campus presents new challenges, such as paying bills, dividing rent, signing leases and sharing responsibility for space. Students must be up-front about what they are looking for in a living situation before living with a best friend or an acquaintance – that is a must! There are students that are very focused on their studies and the other tends to be more social, it is often the best choice to find more like-minded roommates to preserve the friendship. Ruining the friendship can be a catastrophe for the rest of the leasing period because it will be awkward and extremely uncomfortable living with someone you do not want to be with. While it can be fun and exciting to live with friends, some students find living together may consume too much time together and instead choose to live with people they get along with but do not necessarily share a friend group.

3. How to Avoid Scams

Some of your friends might have been a victim of housing scams and unfortunate enough, there are individuals and companies that prey on students renting off-campus for the first time with a variety of scams. One of the best ways to avoid these type of situations is to fully research about the housing company and to be aware of common tactics. If you do happen to find an apartment online and it seems too good to be true, it probably is. You need to ensure you have visited the apartment or house, met the person who is subleasing, and met the landlord or the management agency. Sometimes others may try to sublet their property illegally, resulting in consequences and issues with the owner of the property. It is suggested to go through a management group or agency rather than dealing with individuals because there are proper contracts and procedures that must take place. It may seem unnecessary to go through it, but for your safety and protection, it is highly recommended.

4. Insurance

We live in a world where anything is possible and anything could happen at any time. Some students decide to take out renter’s insurance when moving off-campus because it will reduce the costs. Though it is not required by law, this type of insurance can protect the contents of their rooms in case of theft or fire. It is recommended if you live in older housing properties or properties that have not been renovated, simply to reduce the risk of damaging your belongings and contents in any situations. Monthly costs are generally minimal but it can make the difference when the unthinkable occur.

5. The Basics of Renting

Once you have found the perfect off-campus accommodations, lined up roommates, and ensured it is not a scam, then let’s get into the business. Students tend to ignore and don’t read the lease agreement, but it’s very important to review the terms and to make sure everyone living in the unit understands what they are signing up for. If students are not financially independent, many housing companies or landlords will ask lessees to require a parent or guardian to co-sign, ensuring the rent is paid in the case of the student having insufficient funds to pay the rents. It’s also important to make sure a property inspection is completed at the beginning and end of the rental agreement to ensure students are not charged for any preexisting problems with the property. Many housing companies require a carpet cleaning fees or other fees at the end of the lease term, but some do allow students to hire a professional carpet cleaner or any other professionals to cover the costs. If that is the case, often you will find yourself saving money rather than paying the full amount. At last, once the lease is signed, students should keep it in a safe place if they need to refer to contractual obligations during their time in staying.

Everyone deserve a fun and exciting college experiences and to do so, their living conditions and accommodations must be taken into considerations. The guidelines mentioned above will help you to decide whether to live on or off-campus and ensure your college experiences and memories will always be captured.

Sam Lee / Intern Reporter