You probably had a blast (or not) with your dorm experience last year meeting new people, exploring campus, and getting adjusted to college life. As the new academic year begins, you and many others face the daunting task of finding the right place to spend the rest of your college years. It’s a crucial decision to make as it can help you gain a positive college experience. More than a place to study and sleep, it can be an avenue to network and explore new communities. House hunting is also a good way to assert your independence and prepare you for more responsibilities.
House hunting can be tough, with a lot of competition from fellow students. If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry. These tips can help you find a home while you’re achieving your dreams in university.
Looking for a place to stay for this semester or for the entire year? Student accommodations in and off campus can provide you with a lot of options. The secret to finding the best place to call home is to know what you want and how much you’re willing to pay for it. You’ll also need to check local listings or the internet to help you find apartments in prime locations and make sure you can check them out in person.
But before you find a place to stay this semester or for the rest of your college years, you’ll need to consider the following first:
- Determine How You Want To Rent
The first thing you need to figure out is how you want to rent. Do you want to go all out or split the rent with friends? If you’re a social person, then sharing an apartment with your friends is a good option. Aside from splitting the bill, they can also help you with the rental’s maintenance.
But if you want some peace and quiet so you can focus on your studies, then you’re better suited to a studio. Living alone has its perks, but it can also mean more responsibilities. You’ll have to prepare yourself to be independent in all aspects, especially in keeping the rental in one piece.
Besides privacy issues, you also need to make a wish list of the things you want and need. A study space and internet connection are basic essentials because after all, you’re in university to get a degree. Several rentals such as Deltaphiapts.com also have amenities such as free parking, gym access, or laundry services to make college life easier for you.
- Start Scouting
Once you’ve decided whether you want to split an apartment with your friends or live alone, you should start house hunting right away since you’re not the only one looking for a place to stay. You can begin searching a few months before the year or the semester begins so you can have enough time to look at multiple locations. Check campus listings or ask classmates and friends for recommendations. Older students can also share their personal experiences and point you to the right spots since they’re more familiar with the places outside campus.
You can also use local listings to check for average rent prices. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, use the internet to help you with directions and show you student-friendly amenities nearby. Do your research on the neighborhood you’re eyeing to see if it’s safe to walk home at night or if it’s accessible by public transport. You should also consider how close it is to your university or work so you can factor in commute time.
Take time to make contact with prospective landlords. A phone call or an email can make a world of difference between getting the accommodation you want and something that you’ll have to make do. Have several backup listings ready so you won’t run out of options in case the one you’re banking on isn’t available.
- Set Your Budget
College can be expensive, and you’ll need to set a budget to work with so you can have enough to cover food, tuition, books, and other costs. Besides rent, you also need to make sure you can pay for extras such as amenities, utilities, and renter’s insurance. Ask the landlord if your rent is all-inclusive or if they come separate.
Besides monthly fees, you may also need to put down a security deposit before you can move in. Find out how much you need to pay and what payment plans they offer so you can manage your expenses.
Your budget can also determine if it’s practical for you to live in-campus or farther away. While staying in campus residences makes sure you’re in time for your classes and helps you build a sense of community with fellow students, being confined to such a small space can limit your connections.
If you decide to live off campus, you may be able to find cheaper housing units, but they may come at a trade-off. Make sure you factor in transportation costs such as bus tickets or gas so you can fit everything in your budget.
- Be Realistic With Your Expectations
Your budget and wish list of amenities go hand in hand to determine the living space you can afford. After all, you can only get so much with the amount you’re prepared to shell out. If you want additional amenities, such as gym or pool access, be prepared to pay more. The same thing goes for sharing an apartment with friends or classmates. You may need to set up house rules and split the rent for everyone to chip in with the bills and chores.
In case you decide to live alone and away from the campus, make sure you’re prepared for the commute and to deal with the hassles of nonstudent neighbors. You should also consider whom to call in case of repairs or emergencies.
Aside from this, you’ll also need to remember that student rentals might not be as glamorous as the ones you see in movies or in pictures from rental sites. Pictures are often enhanced to increase appeal and marketability, so it’s best to ask for actual pictures or field the owner some questions.
- Schedule Property Tours
Once you get a response from an owner, ask them if you can check the place first before signing any documents. Go beyond the pictures for a personal inspection of security measures such as alarm systems or if there are issues like mold and damages. You can inform the landlord about these and have them remedied before you move in.
Get a full sweep of the inside and the exterior to make sure that everything is to your liking. In case you notice kinks here and there, don’t forget to take pictures. That way, you won’t be charged for them and help you get your full deposit when you decide to move out.
If you’re unable to make it to a scheduled inspection, you can send your parents or a friend to go on your behalf. Have them take actual pictures and get their honest feedback. Ask them if the location and price are right and they find the landlord accommodating or otherwise. Their opinions can help you decide if the property is worth signing or if you’re better off someplace else.
- Read The Fine Print
Seeing the property upfront can get you excited, but don’t ask for the key before you read all the fine print. Your rental agreement should indicate which fees are included in your rent and who’s responsible for upkeep and repairs. It should also cover the entire duration of your stay, which could be in the form of term time, year-round, or multiple terms.
Besides reading the contract, you should also have someone go over the terms and conditions. You can ask your parents or have a lawyer take a look at it to make sure your rights as a tenant are protected. In case you have questions, don’t be afraid to clarify them with the owner or with a legal expert.
- Spruce Up Your Space
Once you’ve chose an apartment or studio to your liking, do a thorough cleanup of your space so it’ll be ready when you move in. You’ll want to start fresh and make sure that you keep it that way until your contract expires.
Space can be an issue with student housing, but it shouldn’t stop you from getting creative. You can find many decor inspirations and storage ideas online to make it homey and functional. Search Facebook Marketplace or local groups to find affordable preloved furniture. You can also visit thrift stores or flea markets and find pieces that will suit your style and budget.
Searching for the perfect student accommodation starts long before the semester begins. Getting a head-start allows you to access prime locations and get ahead of the competition. Your personal preferences and budget determine how you want to rent and helps guide your house-hunting journey.
In looking for the most suitable living space, make sure that it has basic essential services to help you with your studies. Amenities would be nice as long as they fit into your budget. Look for spaces that are clean and secure and sign rental agreements with favorable terms. Getting the space you want is only the start, as you will need to spruce it up to make it feel homey and functional for the rest of the term and your college life.