ON TOPIC, OFF-CAMPUS: Helpful tips for navigating off-campus renting

When you live on campus, many of the ins and outs of daily living are taken care of for you.

You probably eat in the commons, setting your dirty dishes on the handy conveyor belt, never to think about them again. You do your laundry in the laundry room conveniently placed in your residence hall. On-site custodial staff cleans the bathrooms, vacuums the hallway carpets and fixes anything that may go awry. You even have a VA on each floor to offer help.

Even if you don’t take advantage of all that on-campus life has to offer (I’m talking here to the people that bring two hampers worth of dirty laundry home for their mom to do), it is no doubt that living on campus takes a lot of guesswork out of day-to-day life.

When you move off campus, whether that is while you are still a student or after you graduate, you will come to realize all of the little things that you have to worry about that you didn’t give a thought to while on campus.

So, as a veteran off-campus resident, I’m here to offer you some tips for how to go about navigating life away from Ole’s protective watch.

1. Figure out a living situation that will best fit your needs.

If you are the type of crazy, extroverted person that thinks living with four of your BFFs sounds like an adventure, then try looking at houses to rent. Splitting costs between a larger group of people can save you money in the long run. There are also a lot of houses for rent around Augie,  so you may be able to find one close enough to walk to campus and still take advantage of a meal plan if cooking isn’t your thing.

If you are more introverted (like me), then an apartment is probably the way to go. Apartments can be more expensive since you’ll oftentimes be bearing the costs by yourself or with one other person. You also have to gamble with the chance that you might get bad neighbors who decide that 2 a.m. is the best time to embark on a career in tap dancing. However, for the updated amenities and the ability to have a space of your own, apartment living can be worth the risks.

2. Stand up for yourself.

Wherever you decide to rent, you will have a landlord or landlady to deal with. Most lease agreements will designate your landlord as being responsible for general maintenance and groundskeeping (though this isn’t guaranteed with houses). However, there will most likely come a time when something breaks and your landlord seems in no hurry to fix it. Do not let them take advantage of you. Document when you alert them of the problem and if you request maintenance multiple times. If they don’t want to hold up their end of the lease, then why should you continue to pay rent?

3. Prioritize amenities.

If you figure out what things are and aren’t important to you at the beginning of your search, you can prevent being sucked in to a subpar rental agreement just because it has a cool fireplace you’ll never use. Do you abhor doing dishes? Then prioritize a dishwasher. Do you shudder at the thought of sharing a laundry room with strangers? Then an in-unit washer and dryer is the way to go. Write out a list of what you’re looking for and stick with it.

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