Tired of dorm living? Craving a taste of freedom? Try living off-campus with friends! The benefits are plentiful, including having greater control of your living space and more choice of where you live and with whom. Plus, you get to say goodbye to mandatory dorm meetings!
You may be wondering how to rent a house as a college student. The process might seem scary, but we’ve prepared a handy guide to achieving affordable, independent, and stylish college living.
Finding The Right Fit
The first big decision is determining who you will live with. Of your friends, who has the best habits regarding cleaning, organizing, or respecting boundaries? Which of their lifestyles best meshes with yours? Things to prioritize in your search include:
- Do they smoke?
- Do they have allergies or dietary restrictions?
- Do they have reliable sources of income?
- Do you have similar taste in design?
Even your besties may not make ideal living partners. Talk with your friends and get to know their lifestyles and habits. Even plan a sleepover to get a feel for what it’s like living with them for a night. It’s a good idea to consider your own habits, too: now’s the time to admit if you’re a little bit of a slob so that you’re not the problem roomie!
Starting a Budget
Off-campus houses may be more affordable than student housing, but they’re not cheap. While three- or four-bedroom houses are more expensive than one-bedroom or studio apartments, splitting the costs with roommates can make them more affordable.
Determining How Much You Can Spend
Consider your sources of income. Are you working a part-time job? Are family members assisting with costs? Create a spreadsheet to account for all sources of income and determine how much money you can comfortably spend every month.
Calculating Living Costs
The first big cost is rent. Having roommates can help you split the cost and save money. Don’t forget utilities–are they included in rent, or will you pay separately for gas, heating, or electricity? Factor in any student loans you may be paying, too.
Without the college dining hall, you’ll be responsible for purchasing your food. Block out room in your budget for groceries, and talk to your roommates about splitting costs on food. But don’t fret discussing splitting furniture costs — we’ll tell you why soon!
Considering Other Fees and Costs
Apartments may have application fees that add up quickly. You’ll also pay a security deposit to keep on hand as insurance against property damage. Renters’ insurance can also protect against damage or theft of personal property, and it’s far less expensive than home insurance. Finally, don’t forget to set aside some cash for disposable income and savings! Renting an apartment may be costly, but it shouldn’t break the bank.
The House Hunt Begins
You’ve found your roommates. You’ve budgeted your cash. Now your search can kick into full gear.
Location is key. Do you want to be close to campus, downtown, or your workplace? Do you have a bike or car for commuting, or do you want to live in a more walkable environment? Are grocery stores nearby? These can mean a world of difference.
Also, think about the neighborhoods in your college town. Some neighborhoods are more expensive, while others are more affordable. Make sure you’re searching in areas that sit comfortably in your budget.
Diligent research into where you live isn’t a step to skip. When figuring out how to get an apartment as a student (or a rental house), you can use a resource like ApartmentSearch to help find the right match based on location, budget, pet-friendliness, and more.
The Fine Print of Renting Off-Campus
There are a couple more hoops to jump through in renting an apartment — nothing you can’t handle!
Signing Your Lease
Prepare to do some paperwork. While not overly time-consuming, it’s important to have your personal details accounted for to expedite this process. Landlords and property management enterprises renting to college students may ask for proof of income and a credit check for each person applying. Some may also ask for a parent or guardian to co-sign on the lease. Once your credentials are checked out and the paperwork is finalized, it’s time to sign the lease!
If you’re living with roommates, establishing rules and boundaries is a must — especially if you’re living with friends! Important topics of discussion include:
- Guest Policies
- Quiet Hours
- Fridge Rules
- Shower and Kitchen Schedules
- Chore Lists
You may love your bestie, but maybe they’re a bit laissez-faire about cleaning the kitchen. The best thing to do is communicate! Getting these details written and signed will ensure a harmonious co-living experience.
How to Split Furniture Costs with Roommates
Now all that work is behind you, it’s time to get furnishing! While picking out furniture for your new rental can be exciting, it can get a bit tricky when living with roommates.
You will have to decide who pays for what, which can be difficult considering an item like a sofa is far more expensive than a dining room chair. You also have the option to evenly split the cost of the furniture you and your roommates buy, but this presents its own challenge when deciding who keeps specific pieces of furniture during move out.
Luckily, you can skip all the headache by renting furniture instead. You and your friends can evenly split the cost of your rental package — and you don’t have to worry about who gets to keep what once move-out time comes. It’ll all be picked up by your furniture rental company!
Furnish Your College Rental with CORT
Don’t stress over trying to split furniture and houseware purchases with your friends — or paying to move and store your college furniture. With CORT Furniture Rental, furnishing your college house is a breeze. Browse our student packages today, or create your own to get everything you need for a stylish, comfortable college house. We’ll deliver and set up everything and haul it away when your lease term is up. Once finals are over, you deserve the rest — so don’t fret over moving logistics!