When you decide to move off–campus you’ll be dealing with some of the issues that any first-apartment hunter has to deal with — finding a place, signing a lease, and getting the place furnished and equipped. But moving off–campus presents its own special considerations.
• First, a convenient location is even more important, because you may be going back and forth several times a day between your apartment and classes on campus. Not to mention getting back home safely after a late night at the library or night out with your friends. Closer is better.
• Furnishing the place is tricky, because you’ll probably have to haul all your stuff to storage (e.g. your parent’s basement) for the summer. Think knock-down, folding, lightweight furniture. Or try to pick up hand-me-down stuff that you can simply discard at the end of the year.
• Pick your roommates carefully. You won’t have a RA to mediate if there are problems, and your landlord is unlikely to be very sympathetic if you need to move. Here’s our list of topics to discuss with potential roommates.
With this in mind, here’s what you’ll need to do:
1. Contact your school’s housing office. They can give you advice on where to look and what the going rents are. Start your online search with Craigslist and other local rental sites. sk your upperclassman friends for referrals. Also check out these hunting strategies from our site.
2. Visit any potential apartments in person or have a friend visit and email you some pictures.
3. Once you find a place, have a parent or a more experienced renter friend check the lease before you sign. Here’s more about leases in general.
4. Make a list of furniture musts and nice-to-haves.
5. Start shopping and scavenging. If your school is far from home, you may want to order stuff online and have it shipped directly to your apartment, timed to arrive after you move in.
6. Don’t forget to make a list of everyday supplies you’ll need. Think toilet paper, paper towels, a mop and a broom, coffee, salt, sugar, etc. These are things you’ll pick up at a Target or Wal-Mart near your campus.
7. Plan to arrive a day early, so you can get yourself oriented to your new location before classes start.
Amanda is working on a post to help you furnish your off-campus apartment on a realistic budget. Stay tuned.