Apartment Hunting: A Brief Guide for New College Students

Each year, millions of students have to go through the process of finding a place to live while studying away from home. Platforms like Rentable can help you find an apartment off-campus, but understanding what you’re looking for is a major key.

This task can actually be quite difficult and challenging in so many ways. There is the element of leaving home for the first time for many students. Some struggle more when it comes to becoming independent from their parents and family, which makes the transition even more frustrating.

Another huge problem is the fact that students have little or no credit history, as well as low to no income.

That can really be a real issue since many landlords simply refuse to house undergraduate students or they ask a co-signer for the lease. So, finding an apartment that is both affordable and convenient may be a real issue. That’s why we have prepared the following tips for any college student looking for a place to live while studying away from home.

Know your budget

According to our friends at Referral Wallet, “Before you even start looking around, make sure you know exactly how much money you’ll have at your disposal. Perhaps your parents or other family members can pay for rent or at least give you some money towards the total amount, or you’ll have to foot the bill yourself.”

Make sure you don’t spend all the money available on rent since you’ll need some cash for books, food and fun. Also, don’t take a lease lightly. Once you’ve signed it, you’re fully responsible for your rent and you don’t want your credit to be hurt.

Choose the right moment

The sooner you start looking for a place to live, the more options you’ll have.

Great deals don’t last long when it comes to the rental market.

So, if you already know how much you can afford, don’t wait for a better opportunity for student accommodation to come up, but grab the best option available at the time. If you don’t, chances are you’ll have to settle for a less convenient or more expensive option later.

Get help

It’s always good to take someone with you on your apartment search who knows the ins and outs of the rental process.

According to John Cook, “people buying real estate rely heavily on the campus area when purchasing or renting real estate.”

Some rental agents charge a fee (usually a full month’s rent) for assisting you in the process of finding your place, while others offer no-fee apartments because owners have agreed to pay the agent fee in return for help in finding a tenant. Most rents and fees are negotiable, so be prepared to haggle a bit.


Security deposits and 1st month’s rent have to be paid before you move into an apartment, so you need to have enough money for this initial expenditure.

Deposit requirements depend on many factors.

Some management companies may even ask for a fee, 1st month’s rent, last month’s rent, and a security deposit, which can add up to 4 months’ rent upfront. A student without sufficient financial backup surely can’t afford it, so make sure you know exactly how much money you need before signing the lease.

What else do you need to know?

A lease agreement has to stipulate many things. What is required, in terms of fees, before move-in? Do you need a co-signer? Which utilities, if any, are included in the rent? (water and hot water are usually included).

What happens in case of problems or necessary repairs?

Also, check if the apartment building is safe and whether there have been any break-ins over the past year or two. Give the local police department a call and check the info you’ve received from your potential landlord. Finally, pay attention to the provision dealing with a scenario in which you have to move out early, i.e. break the lease.

College life should probably be one of the most exciting periods in your life. However, to make the most of your time, you have to make sure your basic needs are met.

One of them is definitely accommodation, which should be conveniently located and furnished, so that you don’t waste a lot of time going to the college building and that you have all the amenities you need for studying. Only then can you truly enjoy your college life.

For continuing your search for a rental near campus, check out our platform built specifically for you.