|So, you're making that big transition and moving off campus this school year. Before you plan your move, understand that university moving and living off campus are two entirely different things. Each should be approached in specific ways, but this fact doesn't always stop students from making some of the most common mistakes when moving to off campus housing.
Not interviewing your roommatesThis is one of the biggest mistakes made by students -- both on campus and off campus. If you are rooming with a stranger or sharing an apartment with somebody you don't really know, get to know their tendencies. You should at least have an idea of the person's likes and dislikes, as well as his study habits, before moving in with him.
Similarly, if you are moving into an apartment with a friend, you'll want to learn more about him. Sometimes, friends seem like the best roommates, but the living arrangement turns out to be a nightmare. This is because, though some people are great friends, they are simply not compatible enough to share an apartment.
Here are some questions you'll want to ask a prospective roommate:
- What are your study habits?
- Do you stay up late/wake up early?
- Do you cook/clean often?
- Will you have friends over often?
TIP: Before signing a lease with anyone, make sure they are reliable enough to help pay the rent on time.
Underestimating expensesIt is extremely important to have a ballpark idea of what you'll be paying monthly. Creating a budget for your off campus housing is essential, and it's also critical that you stick to that budget. Sometimes, there will be expenses that you can't predict, but it's always nice to know what you're getting yourself into before signing the lease. Consider these expenses when developing your monthly budget:
Also, take into consideration that you will most likely be required to provide upfront payments when you move into your new apartment or house. This can include first and last month's rent, as well as a security deposit for any potential damages.
- Gas and electricity
- Miscellaneous supplies (toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc.)
TIP: You may be able to deduct your moving expenses if you meet specific qualifications.
Moving into an unsafe neighborhoodSometimes, off campus housing can seem too good to be true. And in most cases, it is. Be careful when looking for an apartment because one of the most common mistakes students make is sacrificing safety for lower rent or nicer interior design. This mistake can be made knowingly or unknowingly, so it is definitely an issue to consider when evaluating your off campus housing options. It is much more important that you feel safe when traveling to and from class, as well as when parking your vehicle, than having more interior space or nicer floors.
Not asking questions before signing the leaseBefore you sign anything, you must be sure you understand all of the language contained in the lease document. Otherwise, signing the document will legally bind you to all of the stated terms in the agreement. So, carefully read the documents presented to you and feel free to ask questions like:
Good luck with your move!
- Do you allow pets?
- Can we hang things on the walls and/or redecorate inside?
- Is there a security deposit required?
- What is the eviction policy?
- Are there limits on the number of guests?