A Guide To Moving As A College Student
A how-to of getting out of your parents' house and dorm rooms.
Your first year or two of college may be great when you live in the dorms, but the cost can continue to climb. I spent my first two years in a dorm with bad floor-mates and also needed to get out of my dad's house during the summer.
Pros Of Moving
The best thing about moving out is that it's cheaper than living on campus in dorms or apartments. Saving money during college, means less money you have to pay back in loans. Although some people get tuition for free, very rarely do people get room and board for free. This does mean you have to be smarter with money, but we'll get to that later.
Another good thing about moving off-campus is that you can lock in a job for the whole year. If you have a job while at college, you can't work there during breaks when you're home. Having an apartment off-campus can help you get a job year-round for a continuous and guaranteed income.
Another pro to moving out of your parents' house, is that you get more freedom than you did just living on-campus. Whether your parents pay for room and board, or if your parents just have you come home for breaks; having your own apartment means you don't always have to go back and forth. You can rely on yourself and stay in one apartment the whole year.
If you live in a dorm, you know the struggle of moving in and out of the dorm each semester and during breaks. Your apartment will cause less stress, because you only move in once.
Steps To Getting Into An Apartment
- Have a trustworthy income and save up.
- See if your parents are willing to cosign.
- Find good roommates that you trust.
- Look everywhere and step outside your comfort zone.
- Make sure you can budget.
Using these five simple steps, you'll be able to find a decent apartment, at least good enough for the last year or two of your college education. The best case scenario is that you stay there for grad school, or after college.
Income And Saving
While you're at college, you want to get a job close to campus so you can have some spending money. As you think of moving out however, you'll want to make sure that your job can give you more hours and financially support you in your new apartment.
Before moving out, you should have already been saving up money that you didn't need or didn't spend throughout the year. This is easy to do in your first few years of college if you have no other bills.
Put in a good amount of each paycheck into your savings account. It's a good skill to have, and even better when you need to make a deposit for an apartment and buy furniture. The day before you get paid again, you can move your "left-over" money into your savings.
Also, when you're looking for furniture, it's best to look in your college Facebook groups. People who are graduating and moving back out will tend to sell their furniture for cheap. Either that, or you can ask family or look for garage sales.
As a college student working a part-time job, you probably don't have the best credit score. Some places even want you to make a certain amount of money, just to make sure you can be trusted to pay rent.
However, a lot of places near college campuses will allow a cosigner. This just means that the landlord or complex has a person signed on that has enough to pay for you if you cannot make rent.
If you pay your rent and other bills on-time, your cosigner won't need to be contacted or involved at all. It's just a way for the owner of the apartment to ensure they will get paid.
The best way to steer clear of needing one is to make sure everyone in the apartment will be working decent hours. Most of the time it's complexes that want cosigners, so if you really want to avoid one, ask the manager or look for regular apartments in the city.
You're going to need to have roommates if you can't afford a single or studio apartment. Usually getting a two to four bedroom apartment with roommates will be cheaper than a studio. However, you need to make sure that you can rely on them to pay rent.
Not only do you have to rely on them for their portion of the rent, you also have to rely on them to keep the house tidy, be respectful, and not cause issues with other people in the house. You want to live with someone who has similar behaviors as you.
If you don't like people coming over all the time, if your roommate brings people over a lot, it will bother you. Likewise goes for if you like to keep a clean and tidy house, but they're a slob, things won't work well. If they do things that bother you occasionally, that's normal. However, if you have clashing lifestyles, it'd be best to rethink things.
Another thing to keep in mind is their friends they would want to invite over every so often. If you don't like the group of people they hang out with, you might not want them in your home. This could be avoidable by living with a friend or mutual friend, but you can also sit down and discuss things.
The most important thing for roommates to have is good communication. If one is going to the grocery store, text the others and ask if anything is needed or wanted. If you're going to invite people, let others know. If you don't like someone's loud music, tell them. All major issues can be solved through proper communication.
Looking For A Place
You're going to want something within your budget that you and your roommates can afford, but don't be too afraid to look places. You want something within a considerable distance of your school and jobs.
Another thing to consider is staying away from bad neighborhoods. This can be avoided by checking where each apartment is as you search, but don't be afraid to look in other parts of the area. If your college is close to another town, don't be afraid to look in the next town over.
Not only that, but don't judge a book by its cover. If you think a big complex looks horrible, don't throw it away right then and there. Do some research and look into the area and view the ratings or reviews of the complex. Also, it doesn't hurt to call and ask about things you are concerned about.
If you see a place that looks amazing, call the landlord or owner to ask about more specifics. Ask if who pays water, heat, garbage disposal, et cetera. Ask about shared laundry spaces if they don't state it in the listing. Anything that would be an additional cost to the rent needs to be figured out, so if you can ask and they pay for that, it's one less step for you.
This word may scare a lot of people, especially college students. It's what nobody wants to talk about, but we're always thinking about. Budgeting is super important, because you need to make sure you can pay rent on top of other bills, eating, and savings.
You can easily search for pre-made budget sheets on the web. All you'll have to do is punch in the numbers and it will work the math for you. Alternatively, you can sit down with your family and see how they budget from month to month.
It is very important to keep record of your purchases and expenses during the beginning of your time moving out. Especially recurrent ones such as phone, car, or insurance bills. Even eating out with friends or buying groceries, it is important to keep track of your spending. As time goes on, you can be less observant of small things, but not at first.
To make sure you keep a good budget, you need to make sure that your flow of income is being used properly. The important bill and payments need to be thought of first, then you see how much money you have for the rest of the month. As you get better at keeping costs low or start to earn more, your budget will be easier to keep track of.
The most important thing here is to make sure you have enough money to pay your odds and ends after rent is due, but also make sure you can put some money away in savings.
While looking for apartments may be a fun way to spend time, make sure you are on top of phone calls, emails, and bills. Stay on the ball until you have put down your deposit and are guaranteed the apartment.