Goodbye Dorm: 10 Tips to Transition to Off-Campus Living

When you go to college you’ll find freedom that you didn’t have before, such as living on your own. With that freedom, comes the need to balance studying, class, extracurricular activities, work, finances, housework, and more. Here’s how to make the transition to apartment living as smooth as possible:

1. Choose responsible roommates.

Constant parties can make for a distracting and unhealthy living environment, along with the potential for property damage or expensive tickets. If you live with roommates, choose individuals who pay bills on time, contribute to housework, and maintain an overall responsible lifestyle.

2. Communicate with roommates.

Be upfront in discussing schedules, chores, party habits, bills, and house rules to set an open tone for the living situation and avoid potential conflict.

3. Find affordable rent.

Search sites like,, and, and check campus housing resources for recommended apartments or realty companies. Use to compare the costs of various rentals in your area.

4. Review the lease carefully before signing.

To avoid a lease that isn’t forgiving, or getting hit with hidden fees, read it carefully and in its entirety. Pay attention to parking and pet policies, lease termination policy, trash removal, maintenance services, and monthly fees.

5. Follow a move-in inspection checklist.

If anything is damaged or missing upon move-in, write it down and photograph so you do not get charged for damages when you move out.

6. Furnish for free.

Acquire furniture from the previous tenants, or take advantage of curbside finds. The best time to scavenge is right after finals, particularly spring, or right before fall move-in. Using Craigslist and Facebook are also great ways to find free or very cheap furniture. Use your best judgment when it comes to safety. If possible, take a parent or friend with you when visiting a seller’s home, and for the sale of smaller items, meet in a public place.

7. Pay rent and bills on time.

Late bills accumulate fees, ding your credit, and damage your relationship with your landlord.

8. Get renters insurance.

It’s a nominal cost, and could save you thousands in the event of a fire, flood, theft, or other unexpected event.

9. Learn to grocery shop and cook.

The average college student spends more than $800 a year eating out. Keep a well-stocked pantry and freezer to stretch your grocery budget, and a solid base to incorporate fresh produce as often as possible.

10. Have fun!

Make friends, have fun, and enjoy your new place. By establishing a budget, practicing good spending habits, and avoiding debt, your transition to off-campus living can be smooth and worry free.

by Cassie Holman


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