Searching for a college apartment can be incredibly challenging – in fact, that’s why we started Rentable! Not only are you scouring your favorite area for availability, but your competing against all the other off-campus college students in your area too! This struggle can sometimes get the best of us, but don’t sign a lease on a place before considering the following factors:
Many college towns have incredibly competitive apartment rental markets. This leads to high rent rates and some not-so-great apartments, because landlords know that desperate students will rent anything if they’re forced to. However, there are plenty of great landlords out there, too. To make sure you find a great place, it’s always good to start looking for a place early.
Most university towns have “apartment seasons,” the time of the year when all students are scrambling to snatch up the best apartments in town. If you attempt to get an apartment after the season is over, you’ll be stuck with everyone’s leftovers. This means the apartment might be shabby or the rent might be high (or both). Be aware of the competition and your town’s local apartment season.
Location can truly make or break a college apartment. If you’re walking, biking or taking the bus, proximity to your college is obviously first priority. After all, you’re living in the area to attend school (and a few parties), right? Keep your transportation situation in mind. Make sure your college or university is an easily walkable distance from your apartment. If not, see if there is a reliable bus or train line nearby.
If you have a car, you’ll have a little more freedom on where to go, but you don’t want to be stuck so far away from campus that you miss out on all the action. Secondarily, you can focus on the apartment’s proximity to desirable places in the area. Like to enjoy the local nightlife? Consider grabbing an apartment within walking distance to your favorite bars and restaurants. The safety of your potential neighborhoods should always be kept in mind. So if you’re searching further from campus, check with the campus housing office to learn more about the neighborhood you’re considering.
Landlords can make your life a breeze or hell on earth. Before renting a place from someone, try to get in touch with some of their past tenants and see what kind of landlord they were. Some universities even offer landlord databases, where past student tenants provide ratings and detailed information for each landlord.
Always try to work with landlords who have worked with students before or target their properties specifically for students. You will most likely have the best relationships with these kinds of landlord.
If you find a great place with an unfamiliar landlord, don’t be shy about having a frank conversation about your priorities. It’s better to air out your concerns and theirs before you sign that lease.
Living with roommates can be difficult enough as it is, let alone when space is limited. That shared bathroom may not seem like a huge deal now, but wait until you have a looming midterm deadline and you discover that your roommate’s hair has clogged the shower drain again. Wait until you just want to relax in the living room and find that your roommate has left their stuff everywhere. Suddenly, living in such close quarters will seem like a big deal.
In short, renting a small apartment is to be expected for college students. Just make sure it’s not so small that you have trouble storing your stuff and can escape your roommate(s) occasionally.
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