Finding affordable housing as a university student can be difficult, especially if you’re attending school far from home and would like to remain close to campus. Whether you’re looking for an apartment or house to rent, there are some things you can do to make your search easier and more fruitful. However, remember to check every detail of the house before agreeing to anything and to not settle for something that doesn’t feel right. You want to make sure the windows and doors are in good condition and that you have security. Here are some tips for finding affordable housing as a university student without making too many compromises.
7 tips for finding affordable housing as a university student
1) Saving up for rent
If you haven’t already secured housing, start saving. Set up an automatic transfer from your bank account to your savings account. If you aren’t automatically transferring money out of your account, put it on your calendar to take a chunk of money out each month. Anytime you have some extra cash, contribute it to your savings. This will be easier than ever if you get paid via direct deposit. Just have your bank split each paycheck in half and deposit half into checking and use that amount until all of it is gone—then transfer whatever is left over into savings. No more extra money. Contribute what's left over right away so it's not even tempting anymore.
2) Finding roommates
Before you start looking for housing, make sure you know who will be living with you. Find potential roommates by asking friends or posting your needs on Craigslist, Facebook, or Twitter. Once you’ve found someone, talk about each other’s habits and how those might mesh in your future apartment before agreeing to live together. After all, two people who cannot stand each other do not make a good living situation.
3) Moving into a single room
If you are one of many students sharing an apartment, it is likely that you will be moving into a single room. Your individual living situation can really affect your expenses, so here is an important tip to consider if you're looking to live on your own in school. Find an on-campus job: Getting involved on campus is important no matter what college you attend, but it’s especially crucial for university students trying to find affordable housing. It doesn’t matter what position you apply for — from answering phones at Career Services to helping out with events at Orientation — employers want student employees who are eager and dependable. The more responsibilities you take on during your time in school, the more likely employers will be interested in hiring you after graduation.
4) Rent is usually due in the middle of the month
It might seem obvious, but it’s important to note that rent is due on or around the 15th of each month (or in some cases, before). Make sure you allow enough time to receive your payment by then. It might be worth exploring flexible lease agreements that don’t tie rent directly to paydays. Make sure you set yourself up for success from day one.
5) Consider off-campus options such as homestays
While you’re at university, it might seem logical to live on campus. After all, your schedule will be busy with class, extracurricular activities and studying. However, most students find that living off-campus gives them back time that would otherwise be spent commuting or waiting in lines to get into on-campus housing. Off-campus housing options are numerous and range from group homes and apartments shared with friends to traditional homestays. Research potential options online or talk to other students already living off-campus about their experiences; making connections before you arrive can save you time once classes start.
6) Study your lease carefully before signing it
You don’t want to find out you aren’t allowed to have pets, have to sublease, or need to move out early after you’ve signed on your dotted line. Make sure your lease is clear and unambiguous before signing it. If there are other housemates involved, make sure everyone reads it together and signs it together. You also want to be aware of when rent payments are due, who is responsible for what utilities, which parts of your lease are negotiable (for example, having permission to have pets), if anything in your lease is illegal (like discrimination based on race or gender) and anything else that would help clarify what both you and your landlord are responsible for throughout the duration of your tenancy.
7) Don’t spend beyond your means during freshers week
Freshers week is intended to be an opportunity to make new friends and find out more about university life. However, many freshers blow their student loan in just one weekend of partying. If you’re looking to start your university degree with some savings leftover, it’s best to avoid emptying your bank account in your first few days at university. You can do everything (and have just as much fun) by spending within your means; most students never learn that it’s possible to party on a budget—but fortunately, it is.