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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!