July 26, 2016

How to Go About Finding Off-Campus Housing in College

The end of August will mark one year (whaaat?) since I moved into my apartment. Finding an apartment is never easy, but trying to find an off-campus apartment while in college comes with its own unique set of struggles. I ended up finding the perfect place, but only after a couple of months, a lot of web-surfing and phone calls, and eight hours' worth of back-and-forth driving. I learned a few things during my search for off-campus housing, so I thought I'd share my wisdom. Update: read the seven things I've learned from living alone in college here.


+ Figure out what your non-negotiables are. 

For me, these were: rent under $X per month, including utilities; close to campus; and secure/gated entry and parking. You might have to compromise a bit (I was willing to have a slightly longer commute if it meant I could park in a garage), but don't stray too far from what's really important to you.

+ Craigslist is your friend. 

Beware of scams, naturally, but I found my place on Craigslist, and it really couldn't be a more perfect apartment for my college years: rent comfortably below my price cap (utilities included), restricted access/parking, ten minutes from campus, and fully furnished. If I can find it, you can find it. Use the filters, search by zip code, and be weary of links directing you to credit report sites and of anyone requesting wire transfers.

+ Talk to your parents about cosigning. 

Chances are you probably don't have a sufficient credit record or income that would encourage landlords or associations to rent to you and only you, so they'll probably ask that someone cosign on your behalf. This reassures your lessor that the rent will get paid even if you can't pay it yourself.

+ Live with other people. 

I personally do not have a roommate, but not for lack of trying. I didn't know anyone coming in as a second-year transfer student, so I turned to my school's roommate portal (if your school has one, definitely check it out!). I matched with a few people, but nothing ended up working out. Even though it's weird to imagine living with someone else now that I've lived alone for nearly a year, I am hoping to room with a friend post-college because having a roommate does cut costs and actually opens up more housing options within your budget (i.e. a 2/2 in a new building with amenities is going to cost a lot less if you're paying half the rent versus paying the full rent on a 1/1 in the same building).

+ Consider the future. 

A 12-month lease is great because you're only tied to a place for a year, so if you decide you don't like the building, your roommate, the location, etc., or if you just want a change, you can move wherever you'd like once your lease is up. But I would encourage you to look at places with long-term potential. Could you feasibly renew your lease at your current place should you decide you want to stay? I just renewed mine for another 16 months, and I'm so relieved that I don't have to go through the hunting-and-moving process all over again.

Any tips I missed?

2 comments

  1. Pinned this post so I can find it when I'm beginning my apartment search for next year! These tips are all super helpful, I can't wait until I can utilize them.

    Lauren // laurenpepperman.com

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    Replies
    1. Yay! Glad you found this post helpful, Lauren! Apartment searching can be intimidating, but once you find the perfect one, it's kinda the best feeling :)

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