College Apartments: Tips, Tricks and Cautions

College Apartments: Tips, Tricks and Cautions
  • Opening Intro -

    Are you eager to leave dorm living behind in favor of greener or should we say private pastures?

    You're not alone…far from it.

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However, making the transition to private housing isn’t a simple process and it will certainly require much consideration and money on your part. Let’s take a look at how you can make apartment living possible or at least find something close to it:

Your market — If you attend Columbia University and are looking for local housing, good luck with that. In New York City you’ll be faced with very few options, most requiring you to at least consider tenement or five-story walk-up apartments in neighborhoods where even the police fear to tread. The cost? Prohibitive unless you find several roommates to share one room. Forget that! Know whether your local market offers decent housing at a fair price. If not, stay in your dorm room until you get your degree.

Your finances — How much more would it cost you each month to live off campus versus living in a dorm? Know this: every landlord will want you to fill out an application and most will require you pay a fee so that your credit report can be obtained. No credit? In that case you’ll have to ask your parents or another creditworthy adult to co-sign your lease. Also expect to come up with rent deposit money, a deposit on your electric bill, money to pay your rent, utility bills and related expenses, furniture, curtains and more. Things you wouldn’t have to consider if you stayed in your dorm.

Loan options — You may have read that some students get an apartment near college and pay their rent with money from their student loan. That’s a terrible idea! Sure, you’ll put off your payments until after you graduate, but you’ll also owe much more had you restricted your borrowing to cover tuition costs only. Always seek out a federal Stafford loan first and use a private loan as a loan of last resort. Even then, keep your debt low and don’t add unnecessary expenses such as a private apartment into the mix.

Get roommates — Perhaps the best and only sensible way to have housing off campus is to find two or three responsible students to share expenses with you. Do your research though on PeopleFinders.com if feeling a little wary. You’ll still have your name on the lease and you’ll need to collect rent and your roommate’s portion of expenses to make this work. Tip: if the parents of the students are in on this arrangement, you have a much better chance at making this work. Otherwise, you could be left holding the bag.

Location, location, location — Apartments near campus are so darned expensive because demand is high and landlords know this. If you have a car, you can live further out. Even without a car, you may be able to find a reasonable apartment at the end of the shuttle bus line or a few blocks off of the beaten path. Invest in a pair of walking shoes and head to a neighborhood that is safe, yet not terribly convenient. Rent a single room with kitchen privileges to save yourself some money.

Dorm Life

Am I being terribly discouraging with living off campus? Yes, but truthful too. You may find it is simply better to endure dorm living and save yourself money then to take on the responsibility of finding and maintaining an apartment. Concentrate on your studies now and you’ll be in a better position to find the job that offers you the flexibility and the salary required to afford a place all of your own.

See Also Making Your Apartment or Dorm Feel Like Home Sweet Home

College Living reference:

summary financial aid charts

 
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Categories: Personal Advice