Every college student should live in the dorms. If you haven’t lived in the dorms yet, stop looking for off-campus housing immediately and start looking into which dorm to live in. This is an important part of the college experience. It is how you make new friends and learn to live basically on your own. If you have done the dorm thing and are ready for your own big kid apartment, go for it.
Here are some important things to consider when looking for your first college apartment:
Picking your roommates is the most important, exciting and tricky part of this process. You need to think about how many people you can comfortably live with. While you will have your own space in your bedroom, you will have to share the common areas like the living room and kitchen, and maybe the bathroom. I know that living with your best friend sounds awesome and fun filled, but it could end up changing or ruining your relationship. If you have lived with your friends before and know it’s a good fit, go for it, you will have a blast. You want to find roommates who share a similar lifestyle to you.
Ask these questions:
How clean are they? If you are someone who like things to always be spick and span clean, don’t room with someone who doesn’t mind things being messy, and vice versa.
What is their sleeping schedule like? If you and your roomie are on opposite sleeping schedules things could get ugly.
Do they have hobbies? Your roommate and you don’t have to have the same hobbies but you want someone who at least takes interest in things. If they don’t, chances are they will end up on the couch eating junk food all the time.
You want something close to campus. Rushing in the morning to make your 8am class is stressful enough, so make sure you don’t add to that by having to commute. You also don’t want to have to worry about driving or finding a ride when you want to get to campus or near campus on the weekends for social activities. Being able to walk home after a long night is a great feeling that you’ll appreciate. Invest in a bike and ride to campus when you can. You also want to make sure you are close to food, whether it’s a grocery store or a restaurant you like.
Remember, this is your first apartment and you are in college. You don’t need the newly renovated place, high end appliances or resort style pool. You have pretty much everything you need on campus like a pool, a gym, the library and countless others. You will be spending a lot of time on campus or at friends places, think about what you really need. A working microwave, Netflix, and a laundry facility on the property, you should be all set.
You are young and wild and free and the last thing you want is to be stuck in a place that kills your vibe. Before you sign a lease make sure you know what the culture is like at the property. If the residents are a bunch of families and business people, it may not be the right fit for your lifestyle. Some properties have regulations on noise, or only allow you to have a limited number of guests over at one time. You want to find something with other college students living there, with a young and hip feel to the place.
It doesn’t matter who is paying your rent whether it’s you or your parents, you need to find something reasonably priced. Like I said before, this is your first apartment and you are in college, you don’t need to newly renovated apartment with high end appliances. You probably won’t spend too much time there anyways. Saving money should be a priority. College is already expensive as it is, and many students have to take out loans. Obviously you don’t want to live in a dump, but you should find a place with low rent where you can still live comfortably.
Side note: if your parents are paying your rent, make sure to thank them and thank them again!
This is so easy to forget about. Once you are living off campus you have the option to cook your own meals and do your own grocery shopping. You have to make the decision if you want to commit to feeding yourself every meal of the day (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks) or paying for a meal plan. If you decide to pay for a meal plan, which is a good idea, you can pick and choose when you want to cook at home or go out for a meal and when you want to join your friends in the cafeteria for some pizza or those late morning Sunday brunches.
Depending on where you go to school and where you live, your options may be limited. This arrangement is temporary so if you don’t get the best apartment out there, don’t sweat it.