The process of finding housing in college is not something that is really talked about, but it is something that most college students go through. While most first year college students choose to live on-campus, many decide to find other living options after their freshman year. Finding a place to live that isn’t provided or sponsored by your university can be tricky, especially if you’ve never gone through the process before. 

We’ve put together some tips to make the college house-hunting experience a little easier!

Find a Roommate

Unless you are dead set on living alone, it’s a really good idea to pick a roommate (or roommates) before beginning the search for your new living space. Living with a roommate or multiple roommates is ideal for most college students. 

Looking for a new place to live can be stressful; sharing that search with a potential roommate can help to alleviate some of the pressure. Having a roommate is also a great way to cut down on overall expenses. Living with someone means you can split the cost for things like utilities and even groceries, which are savings that can add up over time.

If you need help finding a roommate, consider asking around to see if anyone you know might also need a roommate. You can also check out sites like Roomster and RoomieMatch. Be careful when searching sites like Craigslist for a roommate or place to live, as they aren’t carefully vetted. 

Set a Budget

One of the biggest things you must consider when searching for a house or apartment is your ideal budget. There are several factors to consider when setting the budget for your new place to live. This includes rent, any security deposits, upfront costs, utilities, and added expenses (such as pet fees). Even though the base monthly rent for a place might be within your budget, added monthly fees and expenses can really drive up the overall monthly cost. Knowing the max amount you are willing to pay (and can afford) each month, utilities and expenses included, is crucial when looking to sign a lease.

If you are a college student who is reliant on your parents’ income, it’s important to communicate with them what they are willing and able to afford. 

Ask Friends for Recommendations

Trying to find a place to live can be pretty daunting. Depending on where you live, the options can seem endless and hard to narrow down.

If you have friends or know of someone who currently lives off-campus or in non university housing, ask them for recommendations and advice! They can share their experiences with you and potentially refer you to apartment communities or leasing companies. If you ask around, you might even be able to find someone who already has a house or apartment and needs a roommate.

Student Apartments

Most college towns have several apartment complexes that are only for students. Student only apartment complexes are a great way for individuals to live off-campus, while still being surrounded by fellow students. To rent a student apartment, you are usually required to have a cosigner (parents, family member, etc.) and will have to provide proof of income or specify how you intend to pay (family income, financial aid, etc.).

There are pros and cons to living in student apartments. While they can offer some great amenities and an added level of safety, they can be a little pricey with added management fees. You will also have to deal with property management vs. a private landlord, which can sometimes be a hassle.

Rental Homes

Depending on what town you go to school in, you might be able to explore the idea of renting a home. Renting a home vs. an apartment is preferable for some because it can be a much cheaper option than renting an apartment.

Renting a home through a private landlord is a great option for college students. According to Student Loan Hero, “Private landlords likely will be more understanding of your situation as a student and be more willing to work with you as a result. They also tend to have more relaxed guidelines and might not require a minimum income or a credit check.” You can browse Zillow for homes for rent in your area.

In addition to renting through a private landlord, some college towns may have leasing companies that manage several rental properties.

There are a lot of living options available to college students. From on-campus housing to off-campus apartments & homes, it’s important to consider the best, most cost-effective options when picking a new place to live.

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