Whether you are still in college and just looking for a new place to stay around town, or you have just graduated and looking for a new place in a new city, finding and renting an apartment or condo is going to be one of the biggest tasks you are going to be faced with outside your work.
No matter what you end up deciding to rent, whether it be a condo, or an apartment, or a house, you are going to have to figure out several different things when you do.
I am going to walk you through some of the pitfalls and roadblocks that virtually everyone goes through when they go through this process, how to use them in your favor, but MOST of all… HOW TO SAVE YOU MONEY!!
How Do I Find A Roommate After College?
The first question comes down to “Do I NEED a roommate after college?” If you don’t absolutely need one, then there is no reason to get one. However, if your finances are such that it would make sense to have someone else living with you for the next year or so, great! We will help walk you through that process as well.
The best way to find a roommate is to start with good, reliable friends that you know. After that, move on to references from friends and family, and then look for potential roommates in the same discipline as you are taking in college.
There is nothing to be said for roommates that can co-inhabit together. Even more so, if you have some tenants that are all doing the same sort of activities, and they are all of a sort of like-mind, then that has a MUCH better chance at you succeeding not only in your rental experience but in your college or university experience as well.
But this is not to say that having roommates is without its problems. Anyone that has had a long-term relationship with ANYONE knows this. At times, even the best of friends or closest of family members are going to have disagreements and not see eye to eye on things.
When it involves your money and finances, however, you can’t afford to take much risk, especially if you are in college or just getting out of college. Having your roommate walk out on you, or do things in your apartment or dorm or condo that can have a negative impact on you is not cool.
As a landlord myself, I can’t TELL you the amount of applications I go through where the only black mark on their entire resume is back when they were in college and picked the wrong roommates, one of them walked out, but the other one by themselves couldn’t pay for the whole apartment. And then comes the eviction notice. And that sticks with you for 7 years.
Finding a roommate can mean the difference in being able to find a decent place because they can help shoulder the costs of the apartment, and you don’t have to take that whole responsibility on yourself. But that means setting up some ground rules to PREVENT common problems from happening to you.
This means setting up a Roommate Agreement. A Roommate Agreement essentially sets out the rules that everyone in the apartment or dorm is going to adhere to or abide by so that life runs as smoothly as possible. It doesn’t matter how much you get along with someone, how much you think you like them, or how close you are to them as a family member. These rules need to be set down for very specific reasons because there are literally MILLIONS of horror stories out there about this exact thing.
If you would like to know what should be in a Roommate Agreement, and how to go about setting one up, I have the entire thing laid out for you Right Here.
Is it Smart To Get An Apartment In College?
Whether you choose to live in the dorms or get an apartment, you are going to be paying for it one way or another.
At least 1/3 of the cost of college tuition goes towards the dorms if you are living on-campus. Divide your tuition by 1/3, if you can get an apartment for less than this amount, getting an apartment is the better deal.
Some colleges and universities still require that students live on-campus for at least their first year. Parents are usually on board with this option, especially if their child has a scholarship that is covering part or all of their tuition.
The rationale for parents and universities is that they expect that students will concentrate more on their studies and less on partying if they are living on campus.
Now, this has shown to be not the case, but it gives parents peace of mind and the reasons for universities to charge more money. So, take that for what you will.
If you are a parent, looking here for reasons to have your child stay on campus, you can find it here. If you are a student, trying to convince your parents to help you rent an apartment, you will find those arguments here as well! In fact, I have written an entire article about just this issue.
How Much Should A College Student Pay For An Apartment?
Finding the right place to live, and on budget, is a never-ending struggle no matter if you are in college or not.
You should be spending no more than around 25-30% of your income on your housing AND utilities. However, if you have a scholarship, this will subsidize your living expense, especially if you are living on campus.
This is where the college dorm can become more attractive in some instances because part of the living expense can be covered by scholarships or lumped in with tuition costs, and it isn’t as obvious or apparent to whoever is writing the check the actual amount they and their kid are spending on housing.
Say, for instance, that your college tuition costs $20,000 for a full year. That means that not quite $7,000 is going towards your housing. Whatever percentage of your college tuition is covered by scholarships, that is the same percentage of your housing that will be covered as well.
However, if you are receiving a relatively small amount in scholarship money, that means that you could spend up to $7,000 a year, or about $600 a month on an apartment and come out the exact same as if you stayed on campus. And if you got a roommate, or two, some of those costs with getting an apartment can be shared.
Now, these costs are going to vary wildly across different parts of the country and the world and will depend on how close to the center of town the college is, whether it is in a rural setting or something in between.
Many times, I have seen 4-6 friends rent entire houses out while they are all going to school. While that may sound attractive if you are 18-21 years old, just know that the mechanics of that situation can get stickier than you might think.
Friends will change during college, both in interests and priorities, some may move out, and then the rest of the group will have to figure out how to make up that difference.
Additionally, when you have that many people living in the same house, you are going to have disagreements that happen, just like in any family or any house. The more people you have staying in a place together, the more chances for these problems to arise. And as sure as the sun comes up in the East, problems WILL come up.
That is where an apartment can be a sweet spot between living in the dorms with very little privacy and autonomy over your life, to a house full of friends who may or may not stay friends by the end of the experience.
Most colleges and universities also have apartment complexes located near them, which are used to renting to college students, so finding one that suits your need is usually not too difficult.
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