Despite what many retail establishments’ annual back-to-school commercials—which inevitably begin airing in early July—would have you believe, there’s more to heading off to college than buying a new comforter and sharpening some pencils. Particularly for those students living off-campus, many preparations need to be made, including everything from arranging a place to live—finding an off-campus apartment will require more leg work than figuring out which dorm is yours—to tracking down the closest grocery store.
If you’re preparing to embark on your first year off campus, here are a few considerations to think through before you begin.
Search for a Roommate
If you don’t already have a roommate in mind, finding one should be priority number one. Living alone is expensive and can be lonely, so find someone to split the rent and the late-night pizzas. Since you’re a student yourself, it’s best to find a roomie who’s also a student to help keep each other on track. It’s easier to find motivation to get to class if the other person in your house is going, too.
Find a Great Apartment
Even though many college students are on a tight budget, there’s no reason to settle for the first affordable place that comes along. Safety and location are two big factors to consider, but make a list of your other non-negotiables before you embark on your search. Hit the pavement and visit numerous options to determine which is best for you and your roommate. And, of course, read your lease thoroughly before signing it!
Buy Renter’s Insurance
This is a step many college students forego thanks to the extra cost; in fact, 72 percent of renters under the age of 25 forego this type of policy. But contrary to popular belief, renter’s insurance is affordable—an average of $15 per month—and easy to obtain. If you don’t take this simple and relatively inexpensive step, you could be up that proverbial creek without a paddle in the event of a break-in or a fire in your home.
Getting from Point A to Point B
Many cities, like Atlanta or Washington, D.C., boast numerous colleges and universities within their limits. This means tons of study opportunities—and lots of traffic. If it’s an option in your town, consider public transportation; students who take the bus or subway to class from their Atlanta apartments or Washington town homes can often save money—and you won’t have to deal with the stress of parking on campus.
Stay Involved on Campus
Just because you’re living off campus this year doesn’t mean you can’t still be just as involved in college life as you were when you lived in the dorms. Join a club, find a job on campus or attend a sporting event. Staying connected with your university and with fellow students will help you stay motivated in your classes, too.
Whether you’re searching for apartments in Atlanta or rental homes in Texas, living off campus for the first time can be a fun and memorable experience. It can also be a little intimidating, so take a practical approach and start your preparations early. Follow the above tips to secure a great place to live and to enjoy your best year of college yet.