Getting through your freshman year in college is made easier in small part because you’re living in a dormitory that handles many living needs for you. But what happens when you move away after that first year?
Use these basic off-campus living tips to successfully navigate your first year living away from home and the dorms.
Carefully Choose A Roommate
More than likely you’ll need a roommate, so don’t pick just anyone.
Remember that this is a person you’ll be sharing your living space with every day. You need to check out things like:
- Are they clean?
- Can you trust him or her?
- Are your personalities compatible?
When screening potential candidates, ask questions like:
- What are your study habits?
- What’s your preferred schedule?
- What do you like doing for fun?
Research Apartments First
Don’t settle on the first place you find.
Make sure to do your homework when searching and ask questions. Do the following:
- Tour a large number of apartments
- Chat with people who are currently there
- Ask about the noise level
- Check if the building or utilities have any issues
- Get reviews of the landlord and office staff
Also, make sure to figure out how far your apartment is from campus.
Check Out The Apartment’s Safety
Now that you’re living off campus, personal safety is in your hands.
To make sure your building is secure, here’s a quick checklist to follow:
- See if the building requires multiple keys to get into the first floor and the apartment itself
- Make sure windows properly lock
- Ask if you can live on the second floor or above
Buy Renters Insurance
Make sure your stuff is protected.
Once you’ve picked an apartment, you need to take one more step – buy renters insurance. Why? Because you need to make sure that things like the following are protected from theft or accidental damage:
- Jewelry, etc.
The good news is renters insurance does cover theft, which happens a good amount of time. Despite the upfront cost, you’ll appreciate the savings if something terrible happens.
Create A Budget
You need to adjust to new costs now.
Now that you’re living off campus, you need to account for the following expenses:
- New furniture
You’ll need to revamp how you’ve budgeted before but it’s ok. An easy way to start is anticipating costs a month ahead and start budgeting money aside early.
Figure Out Meal Plans
Chances are you don’t have a pre-determined meal plan anymore.
One thing you can do to help save money is to get a partial meal plan to use on campus. If you sign up for 5 meal-per-week plan then you can grab at least lunch or dinner each day. Think about it, those meals are a percentage of the money you don’t have to worry about spending on groceries.
Grocery Shop Intelligently
Now you have to buy groceries like an adult.
Remember that you are now responsible for food, toiletries, non-perishables, etc. Things that will go fast include:
- Hand soap
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Perishables (eggs, meat, milk, etc.)
The best thing to do is buy as much in bulk as possible. If you have an awards card from Costco or Sam’s Club, don’t be afraid to use it.
Divide Responsibilities With Roommate(s)
Don’t take all the burden on your shoulders alone.
A big benefit of having roommates is you can divide things up between each other. Common tasks like cleaning and grocery shopping can be divided up to make the weekly load easier.
Benefits of doing this include:
- Saving time
- Avoiding potential conflicts and resentments
- Boosting your relationship over time
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