Greetings, Bears! I have once again returned for another blog post. This week, I’m addressing a topic that I think is very important and applies to many college students at some point during or after their college careers. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you might already know that I currently live off-campus. Because the end of the semester will be here before we know it, and some students may be thinking about changing their housing arrangements, I thought I would use my blog for this week to talk about some of my tips for moving off-campus. If you’re considering changing your housing arrangements either now or in the future, I hope that these tips, coming from my personal experience, benefit you.
Examine Your Options
If you’ve looked into off-campus housing at all, you’ve probably seen that there are quite a few options. It is important that you understand these options and know what will work best for you. Many college students may rent either a house or an apartment while they’re in school and even for a while after they graduate. Considering whether you want to rent an apartment or a house is most likely one of the first things you’ll think about during your search. There are pros and cons to both. Houses have more space, but they typically cost more and require more upkeep, whereas apartments are much smaller, but they cost less, require less, and have more options in terms of variety. Some apartment complexes also have facilities for their residents and tend to be more accessible and student friendly. There are quite a few off-campus apartments in the Springfield area that are specifically for college students and within walking distance of MSU, which is another option to consider during your search. There are still many other factors to consider, including but not limited to: your budget, the number of bedrooms you need, what your roommate situation will be, whether your new home will be furnished or unfurnished, and location. Every person’s situation is different, but regardless, it is essential that you thoroughly examine all the options that you have during your search.
Have a Plan for Covering Costs
No matter what your situation may be, renting a new place can be expensive. In the same way that it is essential to know what your options are during your search, it is equally essential to have a plan for how you will cover all the costs of your new home. There are a lot of costs to think about, like application fees, security deposit, any other deposits for pets, and of course, rent. Not only will you need to pay your rent each month, but you’ll also need to pay for any utilities that your landlord may not cover. The utilities that are covered vary with each place, but you’ll know what utilities you will be responsible for by the time that you move in. Having a roommate or multiple roommates is one way to decrease the overall cost. Another thing that is very important to know is that most places require a certain amount of income for you to sign the lease on your own, even if you’re able to pay the rent with your current income. If you don’t meet the income requirement, places may still approve you if you sign the lease with a cosigner. A cosigner is someone, typically a close family member, who agrees to pay the rent if you are unable to. With all of this in mind, make sure you have a plan for how you’ll cover all the expenses before you commit to paying those costs in a lease.
Once you understand your options and you have a plan for how you’ll cover the costs, it is time to choose your new home! This is an exciting process, but there are still a lot of things to know about the process of renting a place, especially if you’ve never done it before. The first thing that you will do when you find a place is fill out an application. Once you’ve completed it, you’ll submit it and wait for a response. Sometimes, you will have to pay an application fee upon completing the application, so be sure to keep that in mind. Once your application is approved, you’ll want to find a time to tour the place—don’t commit to living there without seeing it first! If you tour it and you’re ready to commit, you will put down a security deposit. The security deposit is typically the cost of one month of rent that you pay before moving in, and it is refundable when you move out if there isn’t any damage to the property. After you sign your lease and put down your deposit, you will typically take a final walkthrough of your new home with your landlord on move-in day. This is a time when you would note, in your lease, any issues that are present when you move in, so that you aren’t responsible for them when you move out. Once you receive your keys and you complete the final walkthrough, you are ready to move into your new home!
As you have seen, there are many things to know when you’re considering moving off-campus. Even though this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to finding off-campus housing, I hope that these tips benefit you, even if you aren’t looking to move off-campus any time soon. Many students continue to live on campus after their first year, and that’s okay too! There are many advantages to living on campus, just like there are advantages to moving off campus. After reviewing your options, you’ll have a better idea of what works best for you, and whatever that may turn out to be, that’s okay.
Remember, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of changing your housing situation or by anything else, we have some amazing Peer Mentors here in the CAST office ready to meet with you if you need help! Keep working hard and Go Bears!
(Bio: I am a sophomore out-of-state student studying Creative Writing and Philosophy)