It’s finally here! Your final days in the dorms are coming to an end and you’re only a matter of months from moving away from your evil RA. You’ve got your roommates picked out and you are now ready to go apartment hunting.
But, before you make any hasty decisions, make sure you slow down and think about what you’re doing. Be meticulous about checking for everything you want in an apartment before you sign a lease. A lease is a legal contract and if you decide you don’t like where you’re living and break it, there will be serious consequences.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way about finding the perfect apartment:
Be honest with your roommates. If you’re not really interested in paying $200 extra a month to live at the complex with the hot tub, then let them know. If you aren’t candid about what you want now, you’ll get stuck living somewhere you don’t really want to be and you’ll grow to resent them. Make sure you are all on the same page. Do you have the same budgets? Do you want to live in the party complex or the quieter one? These are good questions to ask one another.
Ask about the rent payment. Does the lease call for an individual rent payment or a group one? This is a good question to ask. Some apartments allow you to each pay your rent separately, so if Roomie A doesn’t turn in her check that month, you won’t be penalized. If you have really irresponsible roommates, this could be a good option because then you’re only responsible for yourself. Some complexes also have rent payment set up online, which makes it even easier to keep up with your payments.
Time the distance from campus. Even if one complex has everything you could ever ask for and then some, it could take you up to half an hour to commute to campus with traffic, parking and walking to class. If that’s not something you’re ready to sign up for, then make sure you are thinking realistically about how far away the apartment is from campus. Do you really want to wake up half an hour earlier before that 8 a.m. class? If not, then make sure to check it out.
Scope out the amenities. Does your complex have a campus shuttle? A gym? A pool? Security officers? Take all of the extras that each apartment you’re considering offers and compare it to the others. You may decide that some amenities are worth your money. If you’re having reservations about living a little farther away from campus, but the complex offers a campus shuttle, this could save you gas money. If you’re going to miss being two minutes away from your school’s gym, then checking on the apartment’s gym or lack of a gym may be a priority for you. Figure out your priorities and decide what means the most to you.
The bottom line: find out what makes you happy. What makes me happy is having a pool, a night shuttle to the bars, free tanning, individual leases and having my own bathroom. I found an apartment complex that offers all that and couldn’t be happier. Unlike university housing, you now have more of a say about where you want to live and can pick your perfect apartment, so don’t waste this opportunity.