Things to Consider before signing a lease
The new year has begun and is well underway. With the joy of spring semester courses starting back up comes the additional excitement of figuring out where you will be living next year. (<- That was sarcasm if you weren’t able to tell!) That is, if you aren’t graduating or haven’t decided college isn’t for you, which if the latter is your thought right now I encourage you to stick it out as it will all be worth it in the end! Anyways, let’s get back to the reason you clicked on this blog, to figure out how you could potentially save a couple hundred dollars simply by strategically picking the right housing option.
There are a lot of things to take into consideration when filtering through potential places to live during the school year such as: location, number of roommates, how new the place is, how far you are from the bars, etc. College housing prices seem to be doing nothing but increasing year to year, so if you are anything like me you are trying to pinch a penny anyway possible.
I am going to briefly cover some of the things that I took into consideration when going through the housing selection process. Some hold monetary value, while others don’t. Believe me I am trying to save as much money as I possibly can, out of state tuition is not enjoyable, but some personal preferences outweigh saving some cash.
I am going to start off with one that most people don’t take into consideration when looking into a potential housing option. As a student in the Midwest we experience all four seasons, which means hot summers and freezing winters. When walking through a rental with the landlord you should ask what the average monthly utilities cost. Some rental agreements will have utilities wrapped up within the monthly rent amount, but in my personal experience this is rare. I currently live in a two bedroom apartment that is the middle unit in a three story complex, which means we have units all around us that are helping insulate our unit. My roommate and I have yet to turn on our heat this winter. It stays around 65 degrees within our unit. Our average utility bill is around $50 ($25 a piece) and our lowest bill was $27.16 ($13.58 a piece) for the month of November, that’s even with my roommate falling asleep with the TV on every night! I would suggest if you are looking into an apartment to look into getting the middle unit, especially if you live somewhere that it gets extremely cold. With all positives comes a negative…being the middle unit means you have to watch your noise levels as you are surrounded by neighbors on all sides, so that is something to take into consideration.
Another simple way to help save money is to add additional roommates. Usually, the more bedrooms a place has the less expensive it will be, as you are dividing rent amongst a larger group of people. Going back to my heating and cooling paragraph, the more roommates means the larger the home, which in turn could increase your utilities bill because it will cost more to heat and cool the place.
An additional thing to take into consideration with adding more roommates is that could possibly add additional conflicts, messes, etc. On the flip side it could also add additional laughs, memories, and fun. I would encourage you to be relatively picky with roommates, you don’t want to put yourself in a miserable position!
This is one thing that I will never understand. I currently live three blocks from campus and if I wanted to move into an apartment almost identical to the one I currently live in that was only two blocks from campus it would cost me an additional $45 a month. Yes, I save $45 a month by walking one additional block. Not only does this improve my physical health it improves the health of my bank account as well!
One thing to take into consideration is getting too far from campus. As long as you are in walking or biking distance you should be safe and sound. However, if you don’t think you are going to want to bike in the winter or are so far away from campus that you have to drive every day, you may have to end up buying a parking pass, which I have heard range anywhere from $150 to $250. Not only do you have to pay for the parking pass, but then you have to deal with the packed parking lots and the stress of attempting to find a spot!
I may be an outcast when it comes to eye appeal, but I have never understood why people pay for the newest apartment complex, condo, or rental home. We are in college! Nobody will remember where you lived or how nice it was. We are all eating roman noodles for every meal of the day anyways, why does it matter if you have a Viking stove to cook that roman on or not? I believe part of being a college student is learning to get by on what you have. The nicest place in town will not determine your GPA, which girl/guy you get to take on a date, or which job you get offered post-graduation. On the flip side of this, while you are walking through a potential housing option make sure to pay attention to whether or not the place was taken care of. You don’t want to be sleeping with rats or spiders every night nor having an allergic breakout because there is mold. I would suggest finding a place that when asked by your grandma how your housing at school is you answer with, “it gets the job done grandma.”
Now it is time to talk on some personal preferences you should take into consideration when filtering through housing options. Although we are all trying to save as much money as we can, it is important that you aren’t miserable. For instance, I am a type A person. I like my things in order, dishes put away, living room remotely clean, etc. I know I wouldn’t be able to live in a house with three or five other guys. I have seen my friends’ houses with dishes stacked as tall as the Eiffel Tower, yeah, no thanks! Yes, living with more people may be cheaper, but I know I would be the one always cleaning, which is why I chose to only have one roommate instead of multiple.
That is one example of many personal preferences you should take into consideration. Before you go out looking for roommates and a place to live, first identify what you are looking for and the type of people you would like to room with!
Like I said in the beginning of this blog, there are a lot of things to take into consideration when trying to figure out your living situation for the upcoming school year. If you take any advice away from me it would be this:
1. Start the process early
2. Take your time with the process and take all things into consideration
3. Have your opinion be heard, don’t sign a lease with a friend before knowing all the details
I hope this information is helpful to anybody beginning the process of figuring out your living situation and may the odds be ever in your favor!