Holly Welles
college student

College is full of transitioning. It seems like just yesterday you were adjusting to life from high school to college. You probably started off living in the dorms, where you had everything you needed at your fingertips. Now, you're prepping to live off campus, and choosing the right spot often proves to be a more difficult task.

This list will highlight four considerations for college students looking to rent for the first time. Here's what to look for in your off-campus apartment.

1. Security

Although you've outgrown on-campus living, you can appreciate how secure it was. You probably needed a code or key fob to get into the building and then into your housing suite, dorm room and perhaps even common areas. This type of protection made both you and your parents feel safe about your living situation.

Now, though, you're looking for an apartment, which might not have the unique needs of college students in mind, and there might not be as many built-in safety features. As you look for places to live, be sure the street and parking lot are well-lit, since you'll probably find yourself coming home late from the library, bar or other events.

You might even want to look for an apartment in a building where your front door faces an interior hallway. That way, you and everyone else have to walk through a few locked doors before getting to yours. This type of security will mimic the dorms and help you rest easy at night.

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2. Roommate(s)

Before you start looking for apartments, you should also figure out who you want to live with — or if you want to live with anyone at all. One of the steps in finding the right roommate is to decide if you want one.

You might be able to find a cost-effective studio or one-bedroom apartment for rent and, if you're happier living alone, you could start exploring that option instead.

But in college, living with others helps you keep costs down and stay connected with friends. You probably have a friend in mind who would make a good match, but be critical. If their lack of cleanliness, for example, will get in the way of your friendship, it won't be worth it to live together. Create a list that runs through the responsibilities you'll hold each other accountable for and minimize conflict right away.

3. Cost-effectiveness

If your college has provided you with the typical costs of living off-campus, take that data with a grain of salt. A whopping 60 percent of universities will either over- or underestimate the price of renting. Research online apartment listings and ask friends who have already moved off-campus to help you come up with a potential budget.

In most cases, though, you'll find you can move off campus and fit an apartment into your budget. Unless you're renting a place that's all-inclusive, factor in the costs of your monthly bills on top of the rental price. This step will give you a better idea of what you'll owe each month. Don't forget you'll have to put a deposit down, too. Just remember, this will make your first payment much higher than your monthly rent that's to follow.

4. Furniture

Once you've found a place, you'll have a better idea of the supplies you'll need to furnish it. Some off-campus housing will come with the basics. If yours doesn't, you'll need to add the costs of such purchases into your budget, too.

Of course, you can acquire a lot of your furniture and necessities for free or at a discounted price. You and your roommates' families might have some old pieces you can reuse in your home, everything from couches to kitchen tables and coffee tables to beds.

Or, you can hit up your local thrift store to find solid pieces that are budget-friendly. Just make sure you sanitize hard surfaces and deep-clean upholstered couches and other furniture.

Choosing an Off-Campus Apartment

Once you sign the lease on your perfect property, it's time to move into your off-campus apartment. With these four steps completed, you can rest easy knowing you've chosen a place that works for you, your roommate and your budget. And, with that, you can focus on the academic year ahead knowing you have a safe, comfortable place to rest your head each night.

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About The Author

Holly Welles

Holly Welles is a real estate writer and the editor behind The Estate Update, where she shares tips on making the most of any space. Her work can be found on Homes.com, Porch and other places around the web.

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