While moving into a college dorm is the first major foray into independence for some students, staying in campus housing is a whole different ball game than renting a private off-campus residence. Once you’ve made the decision to move off-campus, you face a new challenge: packing up your dorm and making the move.
The transition into off-campus living is another stage of independence, which can be exciting but can also pose some challenges. There are, however, many steps you can take to help make the process easier on yourself.
- Start Packing Early
- Set Deadlines for Yourself
- Be Realistic About What You Can Afford
- Start Looking for Roommates If Necessary
- Determine What Kind of Home Will Work for You
- Practice Independence Early
- Consider Using a Storage Unit
- Work Together With Friends and Roommates
- Carefully Read the Terms of a New Rental Agreement
- Develop Good Habits About Paying Bills
1. Start Packing Early
Don’t wait until the last day of school or even until after finals to start packing for your move. Waiting until the last minute to pack is a mistake in any situation, but it is especially so for someone who is moving off-campus.
College students usually have a lot of important work to tend to at the end of the school year, and figuring out off-campus housing for the first time is no simple task. Avoid adding unnecessary stress factors into your last couple of weeks by making it a point to begin packing your items up early.
2. Set Deadlines for Yourself
It will be easier to stay on task and maintain a reasonable schedule if you give yourself achievable moving goals with specific deadlines. These goals can be something like finishing packing up your kitchenware by the end of the day, or putting in four apartment applications by the end of the week.
In addition to giving you a schedule to refer to, using deadlines for smaller tasks can help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed about everything that needs to be done.
3. Be Realistic About What You Can Afford
It is exciting to move into your first place, but don’t let that excitement run away with you. It can be tempting to pick a place that is too expensive the first time you choose your own off-campus residence. When setting your housing budget, always overestimate your other expenses, and try to plan ahead in your budget to save at least some money.
Shop around (always being wary of scams) and make sure you have a good grasp on what your options are. Larger rental complexes are often more expensive than smaller, independently-owned rentals.
4. Start Looking for Roommates If Necessary
This depends on your unique situation, but many young adults need a roommate to help them cover housing costs. This is a great option, but it should be approached with some caution. Ideally, you should begin seeking out a suitable roommate well before the end of the school year. You want to find someone reliable that you can cohabit with congenially.
It is important to keep in mind that getting along with someone in social situations does not mean that you will enjoy living with them. Carefully consider each candidate and what it would be like to live with them, taking into account both the pros and the cons.
5. Determine What Kind of Home Will Work for You
There are many options available in terms of types of housing, including apartments, townhouses, condos, houses, and manufactured houses. To determine which type of housing will work best for you, you will have to consider factors such as your personal finances, your job prospects, pet ownership, and how long you intend to live in a certain area. Explore your options and figure out what will suit your lifestyle best.
6. Practice Independence Early
It’s not uncommon for young adults to be in a position where they have to rely on financial assistance from their parents in some way or another, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, it can also be easy to get used to relying on that help. It can help ease the transition into independent adulthood if you focus on becoming financially independent as soon as possible, even if it’s difficult. There are many jobs and income-earning opportunities available to college students, both on- and off-campus. Any supplementary income helps make the transition to independence more sustainable.
7. Consider Using a Storage Unit
In many cases, a young adult’s first place is relatively small. In such situations, it may be worth it to rent a storage unit. You may even want to consider splitting the cost (and the space) with a friend or with your roommate.
Storage units can also be a great option for students who temporarily need to store items while they are between housing situations. For example, if you intend to stay with your parents while you look for a new home or between semesters, you can keep some of your belongings in a storage unit to simplify the transition.
8. Work Together With Friends and Roommates
Extra hands are always helpful during a move. See if your friends or roommates (new or old) are willing to help you move. In exchange, you could offer to help them move their things as well, or even just order some food and make it a social event.
9. Carefully Read the Terms of a New Rental Agreement
There are many details to keep in mind when it comes to renting a new home, from payment details to maintenance responsibilities. Read over emails and rental agreements from your rental agency thoroughly, and keep a copy of your rental agreement in a safe, accessible place.
10. Develop Good Habits About Paying Bills
When you live on your own, there are a variety of bills you’ll need to pay regularly. Get in the habit of paying them at a certain time (ideally before they are due). Beyond avoiding the consequences of not paying your household bills, this will help you build good financial habits.