Campus life is great, we all know that, but it’s not for everyone. Some people simply like to have a space of their own, with no one invading their privacy, no noisy parties or too friendly neighbors. Off-campus accommodation is a neat alternative with its ups and downs. It is the space where the students get the first glimpse of independence and their foyer to a fully grown up life, which includes a lot of new responsibilities, such as the one of caring for their (leased) apartment. So, if you are considering moving in some space off-campus, here are some things that should be helpful before, during and after your lease.
Inspect the Apartment before Signing
Students often compromise on some basic things in the apartment just to save some money. Still, you must be aware that some missing or broken things will only become piled up costs in the future. Malfunctions, such as water leaks, broken bathroom fixtures, appliances that do not work, door or windows that don’t open or close, can become quite a nuisance in time. Also, if you notice yucky things like rodents, bugs or mold, get out of there right now. It would be a good idea to write down and take photos of all the current damage, so you wouldn’t be charged for them when you decide to leave.
(Really) Read the Lease
Who wants to read another document, with all the college papers and books? Well, this is the one you will have to read thoroughly if you don’t want to get the short end of the stick. Some things you should examine before signing are the number of people allowed to live in the apartment/house, the subletting policy, early exit requirements, limitations regarding overnight guests, noise, and parking, who is in charge of fixing around the house malfunctions, policy on refunding the security deposit, etc.
Good Roommates Make a Good Apartment
The place you live in is very important, but the people you share it with are even more important. Finding trustworthy and responsible roommates these days is not easy, but it is possible. A fun friend who knows plenty of jokes and loves partying may be a good buddy to go out with, but when it comes to sharing accommodation, you need a responsible person who will pay bills on time, instead of the “youth-gone-wild” guy/girl.
You Will Need Some Furniture
Unlike the dorm, off-campus accommodation doesn’t have to come with the furniture included. If you haven’t inherited the furniture from the previous tenants, you will have to acquire it yourself. The cheapest way to get it, is to ask the graduating seniors to give or sell it to you, go dumpster diving (many students are throwing away their furniture after the spring finals) or search the web. For instance, shopping for rugs online can save you up to 25% compared to the price you’d pay in a physical store. Garage sales, flea markets, Craigslist and Facebook are always great places to look for furniture for a bargain.
Be a Good Housekeeper
If you’re maintaining the apartment well, there will be fewer problems with the landlord at the end of your lease. Otherwise, you can be held responsible for malfunctions, breaks, stains, etc. and there goes your security deposit. Make sure you’re cleaning and dusting the house regularly, especially the kitchen and the bathroom, and repair some small breakdowns that happen along the way. No matter how well you took care of the place before you leave, it would be wise to get professional end-of-lease cleaning, so you can be sure you will get your deposit back. Besides, you don’t have time for cleaning in the middle of the move.
Be Kind to Your Neighbors
Getting to know and befriending your neighbors can be useful in many ways. You will feel more comfortable in the building, you will have someone to ask for help with fixing something, you will be able to borrow some things you do not want to buy, and your neighbors will be less prone to calling the police at the first glimpse of noise.
Your college days in off-campus accommodation should be much easier if you follow all these tips. With some luck and a lot of thought, you will find a great place with trustworthy roommates, and amazing neighbors.