The excitement of leaving home and going to college is a feeling that most students experience when they’re making that big change in their lives. Many students rejoice over the fact that they’ll be away from home where there are no house rules.
But before you start celebrating your new found freedom, you have to decide whether to stay in a campus dorm or renting an apartment; both choices have their challenges.
As exciting as renting your first apartment sounds, it can intimidating because there’s much to consider. With that in mind, here are a few helpful tips:
Have a budget
It is not enough to have a budget — you have to follow it. Because of the excitement of renting that first apartment, many students find themselves in an extravagant house that they can’t really afford. A budget instills discipline and will help ensure you get a place you can afford.
Know your alternatives
Although furnished apartments tend to be more expensive than their unfurnished counterparts, students tend to choose the latter. Those who choose to rent an unfurnished apartment, must avoid the temptation to buy more than they need and focus on the essentials: a bed, desk, table and chair.
Having a roommate is another way of reducing rent expenses. If you get a roommate, make sure that they sign the lease too. This may exempt you from paying their part of the rent should stop paying it or decide to go.
Think about location
Picking an apartment that’s close to the campus can help save on gas money or bus fare getting from one location to other can be quite expensive in the long run. It also saves time. Then again, rents tend to get cheaper the farther they are from campus.
Read your contract
Carefully read through the entire lease contract and ask questions about anything you don’t understand. Make sure you understand the rental period. Always make sure that your landlord has signed the contract too.
Keep in mind that, in some contracts, the landlord covers the cost of any repairs during the leasing period. Be certain about such before signing and remember it’s okay to negotiate the terms of the contract before agreeing to it.
Most landlords ask for security deposits; this protects them should a tenant skip town or ruin the house. However, if the apartment is returned in good condition, then the deposit should be refunded to the tenant upon termination of the contract.
Be aware of other expenses
Apart from paying your rent, it’s always the responsibility of the tenant to pay their monthly utility bills. These typically include gas and electricity and in some cases water. However, there are some apartments where the landlord pays for all utility bills; these are often included as part of the rent.
Before you move into your apartment you’ll inspect it’s condition with the landlord. Be sure to note any damages; make sure the landlord fixes leaking taps if any, broken pipes, broken lighting fixtures or other items in need of attention.
Some apartments have penalties for having pets, loud noise and late payment of rent. So it’s important to ask your landlord about any penalties before you move in.
About the Author: Alkire Leanna is a North Carolina-based freelance writer and work-from-home mother of two. In her 10 years as a professional writer, she’s worked in proposal management, grant writing, and content creation.
Photo Credit: stock photo