Now that a new semester is right around the corner, you might be considering moving from your dorm to living off campus. Moving off campus is a really fun opportunity: you’re finally renting your very first space, you can burn candles without a candle warmer, and you don’t have to follow specific dorm rules any longer. Freedom!
However, with freedom comes great responsibility. Moving off campus into your own space isn’t all fun and games (although it’s certainly a lot of fun of games, so don’t panic). There are responsibilities like paying rent and paying for utilities on time, among other things, that you’ll have to manage and be sensible and mature about. If you part of you feels like moving off campus might be a bit overwhelming, you can rest assured that it doesn’t have to be a super difficult experience if you have a few things lined up. We’ve put together a list of some must-haves you should have figured out before you make the switch to renting off-campus.
1. You need to have a bank account
This might seem like a no-brainer, but many college students have yet to get their first job on campus and receive consistent income. Opening your own checking account and setting up a budget is an important thing to do to ensure that you can cover monthly expenses. While you don’t necessarily need to have an active credit card in order to start renting (there are a lot of schools of thought on this), it’s not a bad idea to get one of those as well and simply pay for something like gas in order to build credit. In the meantime, most apartments will allow a parent to cosign your lease in the event that you don’t have a credit score.
Working a job to fill your checking account and keeping a monthly budget will, firstly, help you figure out if you can afford to rent an apartment, and secondly, will help you stay on track once you are actually renting in order to keep track of utilities and other expenses. Be sure to pay your rent on time, and you should be good to go! Another helpful tip is to find out if your landlord allows for online or automatic payments. Systems like these can make things a little easier for you, as long as you get the timing right for when money is leaving your checking account as well as going in.
Going to and from your dorm to class may be as easy as taking a few steps, but when you live off campus, you’ll need to ensure that you have a car and campus parking, or at the very least, a bus pass. If you’re lucky enough to snag an apartment within walking distance to campus, then feel free to disregard this point, but if you’re further than a mile or two, you’ll want to consider how you can get on campus in a fairly quick amount of time (think about those mornings when you’ve slept through your alarm and have to get to class stat!)
Snag your parking spot on campus early, as these can usually be bought on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you’re looking to purchase a bus pass, buying the monthly version might save you money in the long run instead of purchasing daily.
3. Renter’s insurance
Most often, landlords require proof of renter’s insurance before you can move into your apartment or duplex, but that’s not always the case. Either way, renter’s insurance is usually fairly inexpensive (anywhere between $12-$20 a month), and it is definitely a worthwhile investment. You’ll be covered on all the basics: flood, fire, theft, and emergency, so you can rest assured that you won’t be paying thousands of dollars in the case of an accident that’s beyond your control.
4. Emergency items and tools
Living on your own requires you to collect a variety of different types of tools that can help make living a lot easier. Do you have the following?
- A flashlight with backup batteries
- Rock salt and a shovel
- A toolkit
- An internet router and cords
- Extra light bulbs and cleaning supplies
- An emergency kit
- Window shades
- Quarters for the laundry machine
You might have some of these things already from your days in the dorm, but it’s a good idea to consider investing in some of these items as you prepare to rent off campus.