What are essentials for apartment hunting during college?
Most students at the college I will be going to only live on campus their freshman year. Are there specific things people should look for when apartment hunting during college as opposed to later in life when they may be working?
The housing situation can vary widely from one college to another. Some colleges have lots of different types of student housing options, both on-campus and private. Some even have fraternity and sorority houses where students can live. But, in general, here are some things to think about:
A few months before your first year at college ends, start planning for the following year. First, start looking for roommates. Ask your friends what their plans are, and see if you can team up with one or more of them in your housing search. Find out if your college offers on-campus housing for students after the first year, since in many cases, the on-campus housing will be your best bet: nearby, more affordable, and more student-friendly, than off-campus or privately owned rentals.
If you must go off-campus, then look for the most student-friendly housing you can find. For example: do they offer a 9 month lease, or do you have to pay for the summer months, too? Can you put all the roommates on the lease, or does one of you have to accept full responsibility? Will they accept more than one check for the rent payment? (Accepting full responsibility, even for friends, can be risky.) Do they require the signing tenants to have a steady income? Would you be able to have parents co-sign?
Before you sign a lease anywhere, drive or walk around the place, both at night and during the day, so you can get a feel for the neighborhood - does it feel safe? is it noisy? Find out how far it is, and what your commute to classes will be like. Will you have to pay for parking? Are there other students there? If so, try to ask them what they think of living there. How close are shops and restaurants? Does it have laundry facilities? Is it furnished, or will you have to move in your bed/desk/table/chairs/appliances? Air conditioning? A garage? A pool? Are any utilities included in the rent (electricity/gas/Internet/TV/trash service/sewer service/lobby, hall and/or yard maintenance), or will you have to pay for those, too?
Once you find a place, and figure out exactly how much it will cost each roommate, per month, get together as a group to review the leasing terms and agree on some ground-rules for handling the monthly bills and any chores that the household will have to share. Double-check that everyone is in a financial position to afford the monthly payments, every single month for the lease term. Having parents or a real estate agent (representing you) to review everything is a good idea, too.
Lynette recommends the following next steps:
Always make sure to ask if not sure what your signing. Most apartment will require you have an income that double or X2 of your income a month. Landlord will require security deposit based on your credit so its always something to consider before looking for one. Its always a good idea if you have a friend who is also looking for one to share the cost per month to make sure it doesn't make it to hard for you.
Irvin recommends the following next steps:
Jenna Zebrowski, JD, MBA
Make sure you can afford it- including deposit. Try to find a roommate or two if you can, it will help with the costs, but make sure they are people you can live with. Check out on-campus housing options as well, they might have a roommate matching service or a co-op option or something appealing that you haven't considered yet.