It can be a challenge for a college student to find the perfect college apartment. In most cases, college students have a limited credit history and little to no income to budget for rent. Additionally, they’re inexperienced in apartment hunting and don’t always know what questions to ask during the searching process in order to ensure they end up with an apartment they’ll love.
To lend a helping hand to college students seeking an apartment, we wanted to put together this guide to help students navigate this challenging process.
Start By Establishing Your Budget
Before you begin your search for your college apartment, you first need to establish your budget. Typically living off campus in an apartment is going to be cheaper for students than living on campus in University housing. While these savings present students with a great opportunity, they also need to make sure they’re being responsible and setting an appropriate budget.
A lot of factors go into an apartment budget for college students. Some students pay for their apartments from their income, some get assistance from a third party such as parent or guardian, and others use some of their allotted student loan funds to pay for housing. Regardless of how a student is paying for their apartment, determining the specific amount they can spend is essential.
Factor in all of your housing expenses when you’re setting your budget. Utilities, parking, internet, bus pass, each of these expenses should be accounted for when configuring your budget.
Determine Your Lease Length
Traditionally, college students will only take classes for 7-9 months out of the year. With a lengthy summer break and sometimes a sizable semester break, it’s important to students seeking an apartment to determine how long of a lease they’re looking to sign.
Most leases run on 12-month terms. For students that return to their hometown to work a summer job or spend time with family during summer break, a 12-month lease results in paying three months of rent despite not physically living in the apartment. For these students, it’s a good idea to explore month-to-month leases, or a 9-month lease term.
If there are only 12-month terms available in the area where you attend college, there are two potential solutions. First, some landlords allow for sub-leasing, which could provide you with relief towards the end of your lease. Second, you could consider taking summer courses. If you’re already paying for rent over the summer months, enrolling in summer classes allows you to accelerate your path to graduation, while enjoying living in your apartment.
Factor in Location
One of the most common mistakes that renters make when selecting an apartment is neglecting to value the importance of where their apartment is located. Location should be top of mind when you launch your apartment hunt and begin canvassing your area for potential apartments.
For college students, location is important as you’ll want your apartment is be with a comfortable distance from campus. With classes, campus events, study groups, and meetings with faculty, you’re on campus quite a bit. If you settle on an apartment that leaves you with a nasty commute, you’ll quickly grow to regret choosing that apartment.
When You Tour, Ask Questions
Once you’ve narrowed down a few promising apartments, you’re ready to meet with property managers and take a tour of the complex and the unit. More times than not the property managers that guide you on your tour are going to be very informative, but you’ll still want to make sure you’re asking plenty of questions. When you eventually sign a lease, you’ll want to do so with the peace of mind that there will not be any surprises with the apartment down the line.
Some questions students should get answers to during their apartment tours include:
- What is included in the rent?
- Of the utilities that aren’t included in the rent, what is the average monthly cost for utilities?
- What are the term-length options for the lease?
- Who are the internet providers for this complex?
- Is subletting an option?
- Is there on-site maintenance?
- How do residents request maintenance?
- Are pets allowed? If so, is there a fee for pets?
- Is there a guest policy?
- Do you require that your residents get renter’s insurance?
- Is there parking available?
- How secure is the property?
- Are there move in fees?
- Is there on-site laundry? If so, how much do they cost? If not, where are the nearest laundromats?
- Are residents charged move out fees such as carpet cleaning?
Find the Perfect College Apartment with Elevate Living
By following the apartment hunting tips we reviewed here, you’ll be off to a great start on your search for the perfect college apartment. Looking for additional help? At Elevate Living, we make finding your next apartment a seamless experience.
With apartments in a variety of locations throughout the midwest, we have an excellent inventory of options for you to consider. Contact us today and let us know what you’re looking for in your college apartment, and we’ll help pair you with the perfect one.