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5 Things You Need to Know When Moving Off-Campus

Young men moving houseYou just survived a long day of classes and your part-time job. You feel like collapsing, but there’s a pile of homework the size of Mount Kilimanjaro in your backpack, and you haven’t eaten supper. The last thing you want to do right now is walk back through the door of the dorm room you’re sharing with your randomly-chosen roommate and eight of his or her closest friends, who may or may not be having a jam session all evening. Steel guitar, anyone?

Moving off-campus definitely has its advantages: privacy and peace among the most valuable. But it can also be a bigger hassle and an extra load of responsibility. If you’re looking into moving out of the dorms and into your own digs this semester or next, here’s what you need to know.

1. There’s more to an apartment than meets the eye (or the price tag)

The price may be right, but if you’re renting an apartment in an older building, you might find out the hard way that it was insulated poorly and costs an arm and a leg to heat and cool. Research the cost of utility bills in the area before you sign a lease. You can do this by asking the owner or other residents who live in the same building or in similar units.

2. Research the parking situation

If you’re using a car to get from your new home to campus and back, you’ll want to make sure there’s adequate parking for your car. This might seem like a given, but not all apartments in college towns come with free, guaranteed parking. If you’re going to have to buy a parking pass or park on a long, narrow, crowded driveway, now is the time to find out.

3. Learn to cook

Up to this point, you’ve probably relied more on the cafeteria’s cooking than your own culinary abilities. But if you’re not much of a cook, now is the time to learn some basics — along with how to buy groceries effectively (and inexpensively). If you end up eating out all the time because it’s more convenient than buying your own food, you could end up breaking your monthly budget before the first 2 weeks are up.

4. Research the monthly bills you’ll have to pay

In the dorms, Wi-Fi was a given. So was heating and cooling, and maybe even cable in the student lounge. When you live on your own, though, you’ve got to handle all these details yourself — from paying for water and power to paying for Internet and cable TV. To lower the cost of your utilities, you can take steps to use them as wisely as possible. To ensure an affordable Internet connection and TV, compare cable and satellite providers to dig out the best deals in your neighborhood.

5. Dealing with Landlords 101

It might not be on your schedule of classes this year, but it’s something you need to learn: how to deal with your landlord about the property you’re leasing from them. The first step here is making sure you understand your lease. Read it, and ask questions. Get in touch with your landlord immediately if there’s a problem with the apartment like a broken plumbing line or another problem only an expert can repair.

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