Renting an apartment or house while in college can be exciting and fun, but it’s important to approach the process cautiously and conscientiously to avoid an unfortunate situation down the road. Here are five things to consider when renting in a college town:
1. Do Your Research
A good rule of thumb for renting in a college town is to ask other people in the area if there are any landlords in the area who are known for being problematic. Maybe they are known for not returning security deposits, or maybe they never fix problems when tenants complain. In the town where I went to college, there were several landlords who we all know, from word of mouth, to avoid. Talk to other students and stay informed!
2. Read the Lease
Unscrupulous landlords love nothing more than taking advantage of what they perceive to be a naive college student. Make sure the lease clearly stipulates which utilities are and are not included with your bill, regardless of what the landlord says in person or in an ad. If you have a car, make sure the lease specifies where you are allowed to park. Carefully read the fine print about getting your security deposit back.
3. Choose Roommates Carefully
We’ve all been there. You choose one of your “closest” friends, someone who’s a ton of fun to be around, someone who you feel you’ll never get sick of. By the end of the first month of class, however, you might start to regret that choice when you realize that your roommate’s priorities are drastically different than your own. Try studying for that sociology test when your “fun” roomie insists on inviting a seemingly endless stream of loud strangers into your house!
4. Think About Location
Sure, that idyllic cottage that just so happens to be 15 miles from campus seems to be charming enough to compensate for its commute, but you may not feel that way in the middle of the winter! Think about factors like commute time, car availability, fuel expenses, and possible inclement weather when choosing the location of your place.
5. Is It Worth the Money?
What with the expense of student loans these days, many students are choosing to attend colleges that are closer to home so that they can bypass the added expenditures of rent while going to school. Sure, staying home certainly changes some social aspects of your college career, but in the long run it may be the best choice for many.