Most college students are living on their own for the first time in their lives. More students are choosing to live off-campus because it saves money, and gives them a little more freedom. College student apartment living is a part of college life that’s not going anywhere.
While you may not have to follow dorm rules and curfews, you still can’t do whatever you want. When you’re renting an apartment, you’re borrowing someone else’s space. A lease says that you have a right to live there, but you could pay dearly for any damage with the loss of your security deposit or worse, an eviction. You don’t own the space, so you should respect it. Be a smart first-time renter by keeping in mind these top ten apartment living tips.
1. Know Your Unit
Before moving in, walk the unit (with the landlord if possible) and make note of any stains, holes in the walls, or any other cosmetic damage. Try doors and windows to make sure they fully open and close. Make note of any repairs needed. Take dated photographs. This is very important. As a struggling student, the last thing you need is a charge for someone else’s damage. A dated photo gives the proof you need to show it existed before you moved in. Keep one set and give another to your landlord for their files.
2. Read Your Lease
Don’t let the excitement of owning your own place overshadow common sense. Read your lease and get help if you don’t understand something. This is a contract between you and the landlord. Know rules about pets, noise, parking, snow, overnight guests, and more. You could be fined for violating these terms so know them well.
3. Know Who You’re Living With
If you plan on living with roommates, choose them responsibly. Know your own habits and what you can tolerate living with. Find someone who will pay their rent and be considerate of others.
4. Who’s Bringing What?
Make a Google doc or a group text with your roommates so you all know who’s bringing what. This avoids you all bringing the same items on move-in day, and this will allow you to disperse your expenses evenly.
5. Clean Clothes
Washing your laundry is a fun task that all college students love doing, and it’s even better when you don’t have to scavenge your room looking for quarters laying around! Utilize that free washer and dryer in your apartment!
6. Meet The Neighbors
Even if you’re not a social butterfly, it’s best to at least introduce yourself to your neighbors. You don’t have to be best friends, but it’ll be more comfortable for you and them to know who’s living nearby.
7. Understand Subleasing
Know your landlord’s policy on subleasing. This is when you have someone else move in to take over your lease if you can’t finish the term. It would save you the trouble of breaking your lease. Make sure you understand these terms.
8. Hand Me Downs
You can save a lot of money by obtaining used furniture and appliances. In college towns, graduating seniors often sell or give away their old home furnishings. Look and ask around, you may be able to furnish your apartment for little to nothing.
9. Take Care of Your Space
This is your home, so take pride in it. Keep it clean and learn how to do basic repairs. Contact your landlord for any major problems. Decorate it and make it your own. To avoid unnecessary bills, avoid nailing items or painting unless your landlord says it’s okay.
10. Most Important—Pay Your Rent
This may seem like the no-brainer of apartment living tips, but you can risk extensive damage to your credit and reputation with an eviction on your record. Understand when your rent is due and pay it as soon as possible to avoid getting stuck with late fees. Know what utilities you’re responsible for and maintain those bills as well. If you can’t afford something like cable, you don’t need it. It’s better to make some sacrifices than to go in debt and risk credit damage that could take years to heal.