If you have decided to move off-campus for the school year, you are going to have all sorts of new responsibilities and a sense of independence. However, with this transition, there will be some challenges that you face. It is very important to locate an apartment that is convenient, clean, safe, and affordable. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you search for the best student apartment for you (and your roommate if you have one).
1. Set a Budget
Before you begin your search, you need to determine how much you can afford each month to put toward rent. Are you planning to rent a studio or one-bedroom apartment for yourself, or are you planning to rent a place that you can share with roommates? Or, a better question may be, do you need to share with roommates due to your financial situation?
Consider how much typical utility expenses are in the local area and whether you will want extras like internet and cable. Think about how much you will spend on groceries each month as well as transportation costs to and from campus. Don't forget that first and last month's rent, along with a security deposit will generally be needed upfront.
2. Visit the Apartment and Meet the Landlord
Never rent a place without seeing it first and meeting the prospective landlord in person. Also, as a young student, you should never do this alone. Take a friend, or better yet, your potential roommate with you. Make sure that you are looking at the unit that you would be renting as opposed to a model. While there, request information about parking availability, storage space, and security features. Don't hesitate to ask what the typical utility costs are for the apartment.
3. Carefully Review the Lease
This may be the very first legal document that you have ever needed to review, and while this may be a bit overwhelming, it is important to take your time and review it carefully and thoroughly before signing. If needed, have a parent or trusted adult review it. You will want to pay attention to the upfront costs, conditions required to get your security deposit back, dates covered by the lease, provided utilities, and your maintenance responsibilities.
4. Document the Apartment's Condition
Upon signing the lease, make sure that you take photographs and make notes of the condition of the apartment. You will need to pay close attention to any holes in the walls, stains on the ceilings, cracks in appliances, etc. Make sure that your photos show the date that they were taken. This documentation will allow you to prove your case and receive your security deposit at the end of your lease if there is any kind of dispute with the landlord.
If you are ready to begin looking for student apartments for rent, make sure to follow the above tips to make sure your first lease is successful.