Living in the dorms while attending college or university has its indisputable advantages, and for some students it’s the only way to experience college life for real. However, the major drawbacks of dorm life – the constant noise and lack of privacy – may prove to be too much for other students who take their studies seriously and consider them to be the top priority during that unique period of amassing invaluable knowledge.
What to know before deciding to move off-campus
There are a number of important factors to weigh in before you can safely reach the big decision to move off-campus and to live away from the dorms.
The first thing you need to know is whether you, as a student, are eligible to live off-campus. As a rule, most universities and colleges only allow their students to live off-campus if certain criteria are met, such as having completed their freshman year, having completed a certain number of credit hours, having reached a specific age (20 years in most cases) and so on. Contact your higher education institute for more information on the matter.
Undoubtedly, the next question you should ask yourself is whether you are mentally and financially ready to move off-campus. Leading an off-campus life will mean that you must handle a lot more responsibilities and you should know beforehand if you are up to the challenge or not. Discuss these two issues with your parents and listen to what they have to say about the possibility of you living on your own (or with a roommate, of course). The financial part of the matter is of utmost importance and will be the deciding factor one way or the other. If your parents don’t have the means to support your off-campus life and you don’t have the chance to chip in by working part-time, then the whole off-campus affair will not stand a good chance of being implemented.
How to move off-campus tips
- Set your off-campus budget: figure out if you can afford living off-campus by setting a preliminary budget and seeing where you currently stand. Factor in the main costs of renting an apartment away from university grounds: the monthly rent and security deposit, the utilities (electricity, water, Internet, delivery services, other services), food, transportation and other unforeseen expenses.
- Search for an off-campus rental property: start your search for a suitable apartment or house as early as possible (preferably at least 2 months before the start of the academic year). When inspecting a property, pay special attention to its location and current condition. Is it well maintained? Does it meet all safety standards? What about the neighborhood and the neighbors? Don’t forget to ask the hard questions, first to yourself and then to the landlord and the building manager.
- Understand your rental agreement: arrange for your parents to be present when signing the rental agreement. Ask them to read it and poll extensively for their opinion. Make sure you understand the terms of the agreement before you agree to them – any clauses that sound odd or unintelligible should be discussed with you landlord and consequently straightened out.
- Find the perfect roommate: the thing that will decide to a great extend whether your off-campus experience is a good one or bad one is with whom you share your living space, if at all. The best case scenario is to have a good friend of yours as your roommate but that is not always possible. Discuss openly with your possible roommate how the monthly expenses will be shared, how the household chores will be handled and find together the answers to a score of other essential questions for a happy off-campus living experience.