Transitioning from on-campus living to off-campus housing comes with a lot of responsibilities. Depending on your school's student housing options, choosing an off-campus apartment may save you more money. Also, giving you independence and privacy compared to a dorm. You can have friends over without having to worry about dorm hours. Staying in your college town over the holidays or during the summer breaks is also possible. However, you must ensure that you meet your responsibilities, such as paying your bills on time and sticking to your budget. This is needed to enjoy your new off-campus lifestyle.
If you’re ready for college and off-campus living, then here are some tips on how to make the most of your first off-campus apartment.1. Find The Best Housing
Living off-campus means renting an apartment or a whole house. This could be done by contacting a realtor or browsing the internet. Typically, you want to be able to go to your classes quickly and conveniently and where you can effortlessly walk or commute. You might want to rent an apartment like the Vintage at Tabernacle, which is near a university.
You should consider the neighborhood where your apartment is located. Make sure it fits with your lifestyle. For example, some are inhabited by elders, while others are inhabited by young couples with their children. As an off-campus apartment renter, you could feel like an outsider. Before signing any contract, take a little tour of the surrounding neighborhood. Get a feel of what it’s like to live there. If possible, speak with current residents. The more information you have upfront, the better idea you’ll have on which housing location is for you.
Before moving into your off-campus apartment, it will probably be a good opportunity to first understand the importance of having everything written in a contract. A written contract ensures that all of the terms and conditions are documented.
If you’re promised something when you visited the property or saw something promoted, be sure it is included in the lease contract. This may include rent adjustments, duration of stay, exclusive rights to amenities, and other add-on fees. If there is a disagreement, both parties will have a document as proof to easily resolve disputes.3. Make Your Rules
Go over the terms and conditions of your contract. Be more warry of what you can and can’t do. From then on make your rules. This include going back anytime you please and bringing your friends over, which you may not have the liberty to do so in a dorm. Setting rules require you to be more independent and responsible with your actions as it may include consequences. This consequence can involve risking your safety.4. Secure Your Off-Campus Housing
After choosing your off-campus housing and signing the contract, think of your security. Safety is one of the main concerns of many college students, regardless if they live in dorms or off-campus housing. Fortunately, many school vicinity and surrounding neighborhoods are generally safe. Here are a few ways to help you keep safe while living off-campus:
- Keep Your main Doors Locked When You’re At Home - Locking and unlocking your door is a simple task. Check that the balcony doors and windows are locked as well. If someone attempts to enter your apartment, your locked doors are the first line of security.
- Don't Walk Alone - Even if you're going out for the night with friends or just heading to class. However, if you find it necessary to walk alone, ensure that you take roads that are usually crowded and well-lit.
- Keep A Phone With You - It's always a good idea to have your cell phone on hand in class, on the road, or in your off-campus housing. This is important, ensuring that you always have the means to contact someone who can help you when trouble arises. Save the emergency hotline number and make sure that your phone is always fully charged or you might consider carrying a power bank with you at times.
- Carefully Choose Who You Invite Home - Keep in mind that not everyone you meet will be a good person. Carefully choose who you invite to your off-campus housing. This can prevent you from getting into a dangerous situation. When you have visitors over, bring a trusted friend around who can keep watch.
5. Create An All-Inclusive Budget Plan
During your stay in a dorm, you simply hand over a fee to the school. This payment may already include your boarding and lodging fees. As a renter, you might have to be more budget-conscious. An advantage is that it can make you more financially literate.
Make a detailed budget plan that assesses how much you can afford to spend each month. Don't forget to add the security deposit, the previous month's rent, and your regular bills. These bills include your groceries and utilities.
You'll also want to include cleaning supplies in your budget. Since you’ll be responsible for cleaning your house, you’ll be needing supplies such as trash bags, sponges, and paper towels regularly. Also, you may consider sharing a room with one, two, or more people to split the costs. Thus, saving you more money.6. Choose Your Roommate Carefully
If you decide on having roommates, you should carefully examine who you choose to live with. Will they follow the regulations of the apartment? Will they stay quiet when you study? Will they help you clean? These are few factors you should think about before agreeing to share a room with someone. Just because they're a close friend doesn't mean they would be a good roommate. If you decide to share a room with a random roommate, make sure you closely monitor them. Communicate openly with your chosen roommate by discussing schedules, duties, study habits, bills, and house rules to avoid future conflicts.7. Pay Your Bills On Time
Another money-saving tip is to pay on time. This can help you from incurring late fees. Set up auto-draft payments or just write bill due dates on a calendar to avoid late payments. If you're collecting money from your roommates to pay bills, start doing so at least a week before the due date to ensure you have the money on time.8. Get Renters Insurance
Do note the off-campus apartment is covered by your landlord's insurance, but your things inside the rental unit are your responsibility. If you live off-campus, you should consider getting renters’ insurance. Renters’ insurance protects your personal belongings from theft, fire, and water damage. It also safeguards you from personal liability if someone gets hurt in your apartment. Spending on insurance can save your savings from unforeseen circumstances in the long run.9. Prepare Your Food
Grocery shopping for yourself can be a difficult adjustment for many college students. You are probably accustomed to having a well-stocked pantry and fridge back home with your family. To make this transition easier, refer to your budget plan and begin by purchasing basic food staples. Prioritize buying carbohydrates, protein, vegetables, and fruit over junk food. From then on, you can also create a weekly grocery list for all of your meals for the week. Also, it might be more convenient for you to prepare and cook meals in a day that will be good enough throughout the week. This way, you can make the most out of your ingredients, money, and time.10. Maintain A Cleaning Schedule
Students’ workload will make you busy, but you should find time to maintain its tidiness. Since you're living in your off-campus housing, you're in charge of keeping it clean. However, there is a lot more area in an apartment or a rental house compared to a dorm. It can be time-consuming to clean a bigger space.You don't have to vacuum every day. Prioritize what needs to be cleaned regularly over those that could be cleaned on a weekly or monthly basis. It’s recommended that you should wipe down the kitchen and bathroom countertops, take out the garbage, and clear out the refrigerator. Whether you live alone or with a roommate, you must create a cleaning routine and stick to it.
11. Decorate Your Apartment
Without a few personal touches, the place won't seem like yours. Simple decorations such as throw pillows, photo frames, movie posters, and other home decors will make the apartment feel like your own. Because this is your first off-campus apartment, you'll want to personalize it according to your preference. You can do this by bringing your décor that shows your personality.
Transitioning from on-campus living to off-campus housing may come with a lot of responsibilities. However, you have these tips that will make the most out of your off-campus housing. Moving off-campus may be a hard decision, but the reasons for doing so are simple. You'll save money, have more space, can create your own rules, and get amazing life experiences.