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apartment living

Other Student Life

Why College Students Need Renters Insurance

April 4, 2022

In back-to-school mode, you and your parents may be caught up in the whirlwind of college life you have found yourselves in. With so much new information and experiences happening all at once, you or your family members may not think about some things when you head off to college. One of the most important things to consider when settling into your new residence hall, apartment, or condo is renters insurance.

Why you may ask? As a student, you are potentially bringing thousands of dollars worth of possessions to school, from electronics to books to laptops and even furniture. If your laptop gets damaged or stolen, how would you replace it? What about your clothes if your dorm room floods? These items may not break the bank to replace individually, but the costs can definitely add up! Have you ever thought about what ALL of your stuff costs, together, all at once? It may surprise you! That is why it’s so important to take an inventory of what you bring with you to school. The data collected over the last few years estimates that the total estimated cost of living per year for students, including food, housing, clothing, phone plan, and other things, is around $14,435, with an additional $2,316 on personal items.

The Break Down

Before you head off to school, it isn’t out of the ordinary to purchase many new things to go into your dorm room or apartment.

These dorm room items can include:

  • Bedding: Sheets, Pillows, blankets, duvets
  • Bath Items: Towels, robe, caddy, shower shoes
  • Decorations and other personal Items
  • Appliances: Microwave, TV, mini-fridge
  • Study Supplies: Calendars, planners, desk accessories
  • Storage: Drawers, baskets, bins, containers
  • Electronics: Gaming devices, iPads, speakers, streaming devices, cameras, computers, hard drives, headphones

These are just a few examples of what you can bring to campus, and when all added up, it can cost thousands of dollars. This doesn’t include your personal items such as clothes, bags, shoes, and other things you have collected over the years that are important to you. With such a wide range of prices on these items, leaving them unprotected should something unexpected happen isn’t worth the risk.

GradGuard: The Smart Choice

Colleges, universities, and off-campus property management companies don’t replace stolen bicycles or backpacks, but GradGuard College Renters Insurance can. Our coverage provides unique student-focused coverage through an exclusive student endorsement. That means you’ll have access to features that you can’t find in a standard homeowners insurance policy or other companies.

Here are a few examples of GradGuard’s student-focused features:

  • Low Deductible – Our standard deductible offer is only $100 when you file a claim, no matter the item.
  • No Credit Scoring – We took into account that you may not have a great credit score or even one at all as a student. No matter your credit history, everyone on-campus receives the same price.
  • Worldwide Property Coverage – Your belongings, including rented property, can be protected from covered perils anywhere in the world! If you are traveling home from school or studying abroad, GradGuard has got you covered.
  • Personal Liability Coverage – If you are hurt or unintentionally damage your place of residence, we may be able to help.

GradGuard College Renters Insurance was made with students in mind, unlike other renters insurance providers. If you file a claim, your rates won’t go up, and there are no sneaky sub-limits on electronics coverage. Our coverage protects physical items you bring to college (up to the policy limits) from things like theft, fire, smoke, vandalism, wind, sprinkler system discharges, and more.

You can also view a sample policy to learn about some more of the specifics of our coverage.

Other Considerations

Homeowners Insurance

If you are not the first person in your family to head off to college, you and your parents may think that you have everything under control. Your parents’ first instinct may often be to look into their current homeowner’s insurance. This is important to look at, but the coverage it can offer you as a student away at school may not be enough. Most of the time, a homeowner’s insurance policy will only extend to cover some of your possessions and may have a really high deductible.

A big downside of using this coverage is that making a claim on the homeowner’s policy may raise premiums. Homeowners’ policies often have limits, exclusions, and certain conditions that you can’t rely on to automatically cover you and your belongings while you’re at school. You may be better off just replacing that couple thousand dollar laptop out of pocket. Or even better, opting for GradGuard!

Landlord Protection

Many parents believe the landlord will cover damages when it comes to liability. More often than not, a landlord’s insurance only applies to the building itself, not the resident’s possessions within. Double-check with the landlord and ask what their insurance policy would cover should a theft or other disasters occur. Having your own insurance policy is a great way to ensure that the things you bring along with you to school are protected.

Another common myth is that renters insurance is too expensive and unnecessary. Even though it is an added expense, the benefits outweigh the costs should any disaster occur and your belongings suffer damages that could put you out thousands of dollars to replace on your own. Renters insurance is a great way to prevent significant financial loss and encourage students to start thinking responsibly about their belonging and move towards adulthood.

Safety Student Life Transition

Finding Your First College Apartment: A Checklist

November 29, 2021

For many young people, moving into an off-campus college apartment is an exciting first step to independence. But before you can enjoy your newfound freedom, you have to find a suitable apartment and arrange the move.

Here’s our college apartment checklist to help make the process easier.

Finding the Right Apartment

Students need to consider more than just price and location when looking for a college apartment. You should also consider:

Distance

How close to campus do you want to be? If you have your own transportation, you could expand your search to neighborhoods further away, where you may find a better apartment at a lower price. 

Safety

If you will be walking or biking to and from campus, safety should be a top concern. How safe is the neighborhood and what security features does the apartment complex have?

College community

If you want to be part of the student social scene, then an apartment near campus would probably be ideal. If, however, you would prefer less social distractions, choose a quieter neighborhood.

Amenities

What type of amenities would make your life easier — laundry facilities, communal areas like pools or gyms, or nearby restaurants and shops?

Access to public transportation

If you don’t have your own transportation, find an apartment close to public transit so it’s easy to get around.

Pets

Would you like to bring your pet? Not all apartments allow pets and those that do are likely to have some rules around pets. In addition, you may want to look into getting renters insurance that covers pet-related incidents. Note that some policies restrict certain types of breeds, like Pit Bull Terriers and German Shepherds. 

Planning Your Finances 

You may dream of a trendy studio apartment in the heart of the city, but your budget may relegate you to a more affordable option a little farther away. Finances play a big role in where you eventually settle. But with some planning, you may be able to find a happy medium. 

First, crunch the numbers:

  • What is your budget for rent?
  • Are utilities included in the rent? 
  • Will you be paying extra for a parking bay or garage?
  • How much will your public transportation or vehicle running costs amount to? 
  • Will you be paying for car and renters insurance?

If the total costs are higher than your budget allows, there are ways you can make renting a college apartment more affordable.

  • Consider a roommate. This is a great way to cut costs, but choose wisely. Pick a roommate with a similar lifestyle and habits. Remember, a bad roommate who breaks the rules could get you kicked out of the apartment. 
  • Get a part-time job. You may not even need to leave your apartment — there are online jobs for students like freelance copywriting or teaching English online.  

Preparing to Move 

Once you’ve found the right apartment, it’s time to pack. The easiest way to do it is to pack by room, i.e. kitchen, bathroom, living room, office/study area. Label boxes clearly so that the movers can immediately put the boxes in the correct room, ready for you to unpack.  

Moving Day

Moving homes is one of life’s most stressful events. With a little planning and forethought, you can breeze through it.

  • Decide on whether to move yourself or hire a moving company. Weigh up cost-saving versus time-saving. Hiring a moving company is an extra cost but it may save time and be more convenient. There are also moving companies who specialize in helping students move at more affordable rates.
  • If you’ve decided to tackle the move yourself, gather some troops to help with the heavy lifting. Mom, dad and friends may be happy to help. As a thank you, treat them to some snacks and drinks in an end-of-moving-day party.
  • Be prepared emotionally. Moving day can be emotional, not just for your parents, but also for you. Don’t worry, though, mom and dad will always be a phone call away when you need them! 

Moving day doesn’t have to be stressful. Keep these tips in mind for a smooth move!

Adulting Safety Student Life

Apartment Safety Tips for Renters

September 10, 2021

When it comes to living in your first apartment, safety is just as important as location or amenities. As opposed to single-family homes, apartments are 85% more likely to be targeted for crimes such as theft, according to the National Crime Prevention Council. Fortunately, there are several ways to protect yourself from apartment burglars.

An apartment complex that has many units can be an easier target for burglars because they are able to act as though they live in the building and simply follow someone inside. There are other factors that also affect the likelihood of a burglar paying a visit to an apartment complex, including:

  • Convenience
  • Occupancy
  • Visibility
  • Accessibility
  • Vulnerability

Even in a smaller unit such as a one-bedroom apartment, there could be items that are valuable and worth stealing. In fact, the average victim of theft reports a loss of $2,416, according to FBI crime reports. Although the two most common stolen items are drugs and money, there is a variety of valuables that could be in plain sight and easy for a burglar to grab.

Other common stolen items include:

  • Cash
  • Jewelry
  • Illegal drugs
  • Electronics
  • Prescription drugs

Security Tips for New Renters

One of the perks of living in an apartment complex is that other tenants can give an added element of vigilance. Aside from this, however, there are some steps that new renters can follow to help protect their homes. Whether it’s your first time moving into an apartment or the tenth, here are some safety tips to think about before move-in day:

  1. Do a search of local crime. Take a virtual tour of an online crime database before you tour the building. Location is key, so find out what to expect before you sign a lease.
  • Survey the environment. Details such as dark corners, overgrown landscaping, peeling paint or broken fences are signs of inattention and carelessness, which can attract burglars looking for an easy target.
  • Check the windows. While doors are often the first point of entry for residents and burglars alike, broken, vulnerable or loose windows make getting in too easy for intruders.

Moving into your first apartment is an exciting adventure. To protect your new home, make sure your security bases are covered. Check out this infographic for more information on how to get your residential security up to snuff as a renter or landlord.

BIO: Travis Ray is Director of Customer Care & Strategic Marketing for KEYper® Systems, a key management and storage systems company. Ray is responsible for overseeing the customer care team that provides software and hardware support for new and current clients.

Adulting Student Life

Making Green Decisions in Your College Apartment

February 8, 2021

College can be a stressful period of life that leaves you little extra time to work with. Things like living sustainably and making eco-friendly choices can often be pushed to the backburner as you attempt to keep up with your assignments and attend classes on time.

On top of that, renting a dorm or apartment can make it feel like you have little-to-no say on how your living situation impacts the environment.

Nevertheless, there are still many small, yet powerful ways that you can make green decisions while you’re living in a college apartment.

Consider the Temperature

The easiest way that you can do your part in the fight for a cleaner planet is by adjusting your thermostat. If it’s hot outside, turn up the temp by a few degrees. If you’re experiencing wintry weather, bring the thermostat down a few degrees. If the weather is nice, open the windows up and turn the HVAC system off entirely.

This won’t just reduce the amount of pollution you’re putting into the air, it can also lower your utility bill. This can be a great first step in helping you save money, address debt, and increase your financial independence.

Embrace Thriftiness

Thriftiness is another way to better the Earth and bolster your finances at the same time. By shopping for second-hand clothing, you avoid much of the dramatic wastefulness that comes with fast fashion. You can also get gently-used furniture, sports equipment, and even electronics.

By trying to reuse rather than buy new, you will naturally reduce the quantity of garbage that you’re creating. It is also a great way to save some cash as you tighten your belt and try to get to graduation day.

Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

Even if you’re renting, it’s still up to you to clean your space. Fortunately, you can even turn the act of mopping a floor or scrubbing a toilet into an eco-friendly activity by using green cleaning products.

This can reduce the number of chemicals that you’re using, protecting both the Earth and your own health in the process.

Cook for Yourself

This one can require a little more time, but if you plan things out it really doesn’t have to impact your schedule much. By purchasing food in bulk and then cooking it yourself, you can dramatically reduce the amount of packaging that you’re throwing away.

You can even take things one step further by using reusable shopping bags each time you head to the grocery store.

Bike to Class

Finally, if you live on or near campus, consider ditching your car. Instead, get a bike or walk. By opting for a fuel-free mode of transportation you can avoid putting unnecessary carbon emissions into the air.

The extra exercise is also a great way to stay fit, especially when you’re spending so much of your time sitting behind a desk.

Going Green in College

You don’t have to be the king of your own castle to make a difference. On the contrary, there are countless smaller steps you can take to do your part in the battle to protect our planet, even when you’re renting on a college campus.

So put down your textbooks for a minute and take a moment to consider where and how you can put some extra effort into creating a brighter future.

BIO: Sam Bowman has a passion for learning. As a seasoned professional writer, he specializes in topics about people, education, tech and how they merge. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.

Student Life

Your Rights as a Renter: A Guide for College Students

February 4, 2021

Going to college is a huge opportunity and one that offers an incredible number of unique and first-time experiences. At the same time, it will likely be the first time you’ve lived away from home, figured out your schedule, and made your own rules.

Amongst all of these first-time experiences, there are a couple of instances where you may be taken advantage of because of your inexperience with the process. Some of these instances may orient around your first rental experience. Because of this, it is essential to do your research and know your rights as a renter. 

Getting into a Rental

As you first start applying to and looking at rentals, there are several things to take into consideration. For instance, how much are you able to pay for rent each month with or without utilities included? Are you willing to live with roommates? Do you have specific conditions that you can’t live in?

Determining these things will help you set a budget and narrow your search a bit. Once you start looking at places, you should also think about your rights and requirements for living, such as:

  • Deposit Limits: Most states have rules about how much a landlord can charge you to secure your spot in a rental.
  • Documentation of Rental Facility Conditions: If you have to pay a security deposit that will be used to fix and clean things when you leave, it is important to document the condition when you move in with pictures and notes that are signed by both you and the landlord.
  • A Lease Copy: You will be provided a copy of your lease agreement. Read it and ask questions before signing.
  • Livable Conditions: Landlords are required to meet certain standards of living conditions that include working utilities, safety features, and free from certain types of damage including asbestos contamination, mold, or vermin.
  • Rental Raises: Your lease stipulates what your rent is for the duration of your lease and it cannot be raised until your lease is up.
  • Insurance: Your landlord may or may not require you have renters insurance, but it is always a good idea. Check out GradGuard for renters insurance that’s made for college students.

Making it Your Own

Once you’ve researched your rental rights, asked questions about them, and feel good about signing your lease, it’s time to start moving in. There are plenty of exciting things you can do now that you have your own place, so take the time to make it your own! As you make yourself at home, you should keep certain things in mind like:

  • Privacy: Your landlord is not allowed to come into your home without giving you notice and a reason.
  • Decoration Abilities: Your landlord cannot tell you how you can or can’t decorate your rental as long as you are not damaging anything.
  • Prohibitions: Your lease will stipulate prohibitions like painting walls, putting large nails or screws in to hang things, or tearing out carpet.
  • Landlord Installations: If you’re interested in installing anything that could make the rental facility more valuable or more energy-efficient, talk to your landlord about it. You may not be able to install it yourself, but your landlord may be open to the changes. Then they can cover some of the costs and install it themselves.

Being a first-time renter can be an awesome experience if you take the time to find a good place to live with an honest landlord. Do your homework and know your rights as a renter — things will work out for the best!

BIO: Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture.

Safety Student Life

Protecting Your Apartment From Winter Weather

December 21, 2020

Snow may look great outside your home, but you should make sure you know how to deal with it if it ever gets out of control or threatens your safety.

Here are a few quick tips to make sure you’re safe at home for the rest of the winter, especially if there’s a storm:

One basic way to protect your home or apartment from snow is shoveling. Buy a medium-sized shovel and make sure that walkways and sidewalks are completely clear after a storm. Shoveling helps you and your neighbors stay safe from black ice and other post-snowstorm dangers. It’s also a smart idea to use salt on any walkways to help melt ice quickly. As always, be careful while you’re out there clearing things up! Inside, make sure to have welcome mats so everyone can clean off their boots before entering, and eliminate tracking water into the house that could lead to slips and falls. You don’t want to be liable for any injuries at home!

Another way to keep your place safe and sound during a storm is by checking up on the heat. During a storm, there’s always a chance that you may lose power. Be sure to keep the heat running—keep yourself and your roommates warm just in case! If your heat does not appear to be working properly, be sure to talk to your landlord ASAP—don’t get stuck in the cold during a storm.

One thing tenants may forget about is ice buildup in unusual places. For example, ice can freeze and accumulate at a rapid rate in your downspout or other exposed pipes. If enough snow builds up in the pipes, there could be disastrous results. Make sure to check with neighbors, roommates and landlords to be sure that your pipes stay ice-free, especially after a big blizzard.

An important snow safety tip for your apartment is be prepared. If a big snowstorm is in the future, make sure you’ve taken care of everything ahead of time at home. Be sure to keep blankets and flashlights out in the open in case your heat or power goes out. If it looks like a blizzard could last for days at a time, stock up on plenty of food and household essentials like soap and toilet paper, just in case you won’t be able to get to the grocery store for while. If you have a car, put it in the garage or an area where it won’t get snowed in.

If you’re not sure about the state of your apartment for the rest of the winter, talk to your landlord to discuss any concerns. It’s important that you’re 100% sure your place will be safe during a storm or blizzard—peace of mind is key during the wintertime. Also, consider renters insurance to help cover your personal belongings and protect what’s important in your home in the event of an accident.

Stay safe for the rest of the winter! Spring is just around the corner!

This article was originally published in 2012 and has since been updated.

Student Life

Top 3 Characteristics of a Great Roommate

August 27, 2020

The idea of having a roommate can be exciting and little nerve-racking at the same time. We all have different expectations of how a living arrangement should be when sharing spaces with others. Whether you are a college student who may not have a choice in who you are living with or an adult searching for the ideal person to live with, there are certain things that should be a default when it comes to roommate situations. Here are a few of the most important characteristics of a great roommate!

  1. Make sure your roommate is trustworthy! Being trustworthy and reliable are valuable qualities. In most roommate arrangements, two or more people are responsible for splitting the costs of rent, utilities, internet, and other shared amenities. If your house mates are trusting in you to have your portion of the costs covered when they are due, you should always adhere to what has been agreed upon by everyone! Sometimes issues arise in which someone may not be able to contribute. This is when communication and understanding are key.
  1. They should be clean and neat! Growing up, we all learned from our parents and other adults the importance of having good cleaning and hygiene habits. This is important to implement when you are sharing living spaces with others. Part of being a great roommate includes making sure that the shared spaces in your residence are always clean and presentable. Areas like the living room, kitchen, and shared bathrooms should be as clean and neat as possible. Having good personal hygiene habits are even more important! Living with others should be a pleasant experience and this includes making sure that you are keeping up with your personal care (bathing, laundry, cleaning your room, etc).
  1. Be friendly and kind! Some roommates become best friends while others barely speak or interact with each other. No matter what your roommate situation is it vital to remain friendly and kind with each other. Being friendly does not mean you have to spend every minute together when everyone is home. By simply saying good morning, good night, or asking someone how their day was can go a long way. Feeling comfortable in your residence starts with the way you treat your house mates and vis versa. If you or your roommates have guests over it is important to never make someone feel unwelcome. Be polite and say hello!

Being a good roommate doesn’t have to be hard. There are enough stressors that come along with college life and living with other people should not be one of them. Take these 3 things into account when starting the new term with a new roommate.

Adulting Other

Pets on Campus: 3 Rules for Keeping Pets at College

July 1, 2020

For young adults living alone for the first time, college can feel like the perfect time to finally adopt that lizard they weren’t allowed to have growing up; for those who grew up with animals, missing the family dog might feel like a black hole that desperately needs filling. Keeping a pet at college can be wonderful for both the owner, who’s gained a cute friend guaranteed not to copy their physics homework and the pet, who can enjoy companionship and a loving home. In any instance, before getting a pet you need to check with your residence and understand their pet policies. Assuming they do, college living also presents unique logistical challenges that students should take into account before adopting a furry, scaly, or feathery friend.  

  1. Respect your roommates. Since most college students live with other people, sharing a room, apartment, or house, they should take those other people into account when adopting a pet, and take their pet into account when searching for roommates. Dogs and cats, who roam the whole house or apartment and interact with all occupants, absolutely need the buy-in of all roommates if they’re going to enter a living space. Enclosure pets that stay in the owner’s room, like hamsters, lizards, or fish, only need enthusiastic buy-in from the folks living in said room, but everyone in the house should be aware of the animal – especially one that might sneak out of their cage and into other living areas. By making sure their roommates are ok with their pets before they move in, students will both protect their relationship with their roommates and ensure they’re living in an environment that’s good for their animal.     
  2. Respect your limits. College students are often busy, strapped for cash, and uncertain of their future, and pets, for all that they bring joy and companionship into someone’s life, can exacerbate these things. Students looking to get a pet should consider their own limits – on time, funds, travel, living space – before adopting a pet. Even seemingly low-maintenance pets, like cats or gerbils, can be expensive to provide for and have a need for attention and emotional energy from their owners. Animals are wonderful companions, but they’re also a responsibility, and college students should know how many things a pet could add to their already lengthy to-do list before adopting. 
  3. Respect your pet. This is the most important rule of pet ownership, in college or anywhere. While it’s understandable that college students experiencing independence for the first time might be desperate for an animal companion, the college lifestyle is not always good for an animal. For example, busy people living in small apartments should not adopt puppies who need attention all day and room to run – no matter how many cute girls walking said puppy attracts. Nor should people who move at least once a year invest in keeping chickens. The most important thing a prospective pet owner should consider is whether they are in a place to properly care for their pet – not just love, but care for. College students may love their dogs, but if they don’t have time to walk them every day, they’re not able to care for them. It’s a key distinction, and anyone looking to adopt a pet needs to be honest with themselves about their answer. 

Keeping a pet in college can be both incredibly rewarding and incredibly difficult. Of course, those struggling with the logistical challenges of pet ownership shouldn’t resign themselves to a life without animal companionship; some colleges bring “stress animals” to campus to help students relax during exams, and any town will need pet sitters and animal shelter volunteers. Everyone has room for animals in their life, if not their apartment. 

Adulting Other

Packing Tips for College Move Out Day

May 27, 2020
Packing Tips for College

How bittersweet this time of year is – summer is approaching, meaning no more classes or exams or deadlines, but you have to say goodbye to your friends, professors, clubs and parties. Although this can be a fun time to get distracted and get ready for the warm weather and summer fun again, it’s also a time to make sure you’re prepared to be on time for your flight or ride when moving out of your dorm or apartment.

Between finals, nice weather and saying goodbye to friends, it can be difficult to get everything packed in an organized and timely manner. However, it helps to do a little bit over time, so the whole task never seems too overwhelming. What do you need to do before you leave? Where should you begin? Check out this list!

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Other Transition

5 Budget Tips for Decorating Your First Home or Apartment

November 21, 2019

Whether you’re moving into off-campus housing during college or settling into a new place post-graduation, the independence of living in your own space is exciting! Turning a new house or apartment into a home is one of the many tasks to complete once you move in. However, decorating can be costly, especially if you’re strapped for cash. Here are some decorating tips that are not only budget-friendly but will enhance your new home. 

Dual-Storage

Directly following your move, finding the time to unpack can be difficult. Figuring out where everything should go is often challenging, and you need time to rearrange furniture and items to find their ideal place. Utilizing household storage containers that are also dual-purpose furniture will go a long way in consolidating and decorating at the same time. With the functionality of keeping things orderly and put away, you can also use something like this for a side table, stacked shelf, or even a seat when sitting room is tight. 

Thrifting

Thrifting for clothes is fun and cost-effective, but have you ever looked at the furniture section of your local thrift store? You’d be surprised at the amount of couches, armchairs, and coffee tables that are available for a fraction of the price as opposed to a regular furniture shop. Most thrift stores will check to ensure that items are in good condition to sell, but you’ll be able to test it for yourself when you’re there. 

Inexpensive Accessories

There are lots of accents that are economical that will enhance your home. Colorful pillows will stand out against a couch, or a soft throw blanket draped over the back of an armchair will provide texture in the room. Pieces with different materials such as these will give visual depth, and will also add to the space instead of making it feel flat. Color coordinating your accents will make your area feel complete, drawing the eye around the room!

DIY/Repurpose

DIY is a popular trend- as it should be! Finding new ways to reuse items can save money and expand your creativity. Look through every room and see where you can find inspiration to repurpose items. One cool project is making potted plants in tea tin containers that have magnets to be able to hang on your fridge, or glass jars that can double as makeup brush holders. For wooden furniture items, refurbishing them with peel-and-stick wallpaper can be a mess-free way to add a patterned design without having to paint!

Moving into your new home is fun, but having to worry about pricey decor items isn’t. With these tips, your space can be upgraded easily and effectively. Let us know some other budget decoration ideas you’ve used in your own place!