Off Campus Housing - What to Watch For
Living in off campus housing can be a tremendous step into freedom for any young college student. However, you'll need to be careful in your considerations.
For many young students, living in off campus housing is their first encounter with needing to worry about a budget. Whether it is or it isn't in your case, it is certainly an important component when it comes to choosing an apartment. Make sure you take not only rent into consideration, but also any other incidentals, including utilities. When possible, make liberal estimates when it comes to your costs. It's better to overestimate, for example, how much your electricity bill will come to each month than to underestimate it and wind up short.
Read your lease carefully before you put pen to paper. While established adults can often use a lease as a jumping off point for negotiations, there is typically very little wiggle room when it comes to off campus housing. Landlords know that if you don't take the apartment, someone else will. They are under no pressure to get you into their space. Read the terms carefully and make sure there isn't anything in there that will be difficult for you to follow. Look for security deposit amounts, rent payment dates, when and for what reasons the landlord can enter your apartment, and more.
It is hardly unusual for college students to find roommates to live with when moving to off campus housing. Many students wind up getting an apartment with the person with whom they shared a dorm room. Sharing an apartment is a different beast; however, and it's important that everyone understands this. First of all, make sure the landlord is okay with having everyone on the lease. Even if he doesn't care if they are on the lease or not, you should make sure it is acceptable. You don't want to be the sole individual responsible for rent in a legal sense. Set out the dates on which rent must be paid to you, as well as all other utility payments. Getting the details hammered out ahead of time can help you avoid problems later.
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