-Written by Caitlyn Laidler
So, you’re getting ready to move into your first college apartment, how exciting! There are several things to consider when choosing a place to call home for the school year. While everyone’s priorities will be a little bit different, we’ve developed a list of things to consider when comparing communities and making a final decision.
Rent and fees
First and foremost, rent is an important factor in determining where to live. Student housing often offers different types of payment plans — monthly, by semester, or for the full year. Make sure wherever you live has a payment option that is best suited for you.
On top of rent, look at the other fees you would be responsible for paying. There are often application fees and security deposits required before moving in. Sometimes, apartment management offers special deals where they may waive certain fees, or even give you a special rate on rent when you sign during specific promotional periods.
While we’re on the topic of money, let’s talk utilities! Every community is different, and knowing if they charge you for utilities such as gas, electricity, water, cable, and internet is important to know. Some of these may be included and others may be your responsibility to pay for separately. Utilities vary between communities, so take into consideration what your bills may look like depending on where you chose to live.
It’s important to know whether you’re signing an individual lease, or a joint lease. Both are fairly common in student housing, and each comes with pros and cons.
In an individual lease, or bedroom lease, each roommate signs their own lease and is responsible for paying their portion of the rent.
Pro: You are not responsible for the actions of your roommates. If one of your roommates breaks their lease, or is late on rent, you won’t be affected.
Con: You may pay a little bit more than you would in a joint lease. While an individual lease is low risk for you, there’s more risk involved for the apartment company, so a premium is added your monthly rent.
With a joint lease, you and your roommates will sign one lease altogether. Instead of each roommate paying individual rent per room, there will be a monthly price you and your roommates will split and pay together.
Pro: Joint leases are generally cheaper than individual leases.
Con: You and your roommates are equally responsible for putting up the money to cover rent, utilities, and repairs. If a roommate is late on rent or decides to move out, you are still responsible for making sure their portion gets paid — the apartment company can come after any or all of you in order to get the money they’re owed.
Every apartment is going to offer various amenities, some more necessary than others. Below is a list of amenities that are generally offered by student housing communities. Some places may have more than others, it’s up to you what you want most out of your future home!
- Washer and dryer (Some communities will have these in every unit, and some offer a shared laundry room located somewhere on the property)
- Gym/fitness center
- Pool and/or hot tub
- Roommate matching (if you don’t already know who you are living with, some communities help set you up with roommates)
- Private bathrooms
- Air conditioning
- Covered parking
Figure out what each communities parking policies are. Whether they have numbered parking, and what their guest parking policies are. It can be a hassle if guests have to get a pass or park far away, but at the same time it could be even worse if guest parking was not enforced and you end up with nowhere to park in your own Community.
Location and transportation
Is the housing close to campus? The closer it is, the higher the price will likely be. If it’s further from campus, is there a bus stop by the community? Some places even offer a free shuttle to campus which is an added bonus — that way you don’t have to buy a parking pass and you can use public transportation to get to class!
Another thing to consider: is the community close to nightlife, entertainment, and shopping? Whether you have a car, bike, or ride the bus, these are all important things to think about since you will be commuting to and from these places on a regular basis.
For many students, price is a huge concern and each of these aspects affects how much an apartment will cost. Figure out what is most important to you and look for places that offer those elements in your price range. Whether or not you get everything you want out of your apartment, you can decorate any space to suit your taste and make it feel like home.
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