A short guide to apartment hunting

Leenika Belfield-Martin | Lifestyle Editor

The 2018-2019 academic year is coming to a close. That means it’s the time for planning—planning for the summer, registering for classes and planning for housing. For some, this means the start of a new adventure: Apartment hunting! Here are some things to keep in mind if you plan to move off-campus next year.

Budget, budget, budget

Budgeting is everything. No matter what happens throughout the school year (whether it’s homecoming or beach weekend), rent is always due at the beginning of the month. So, make sure to pay rent BEFORE buying those party/concert tickets or new outfits. Without prioritizing, you can find yourself evicted.

All ’bout the amenities

Nothing in life is going to be perfect, especially if it’s your first apartment. So compromising is key. You may want a washer and dryer in-unit, but the only apartment within your budget is in Norfolk. Or you may like having an apartment within walking distance of a shopping center, but that may mean you’ll be farther from the university. Create a checklist of everything you need when you go and visit different places.

Have a reliable roommate

Things are very different when living off campus. When choosing someone to room with in a dorm, you might consider if this person is friendly or if they respect your boundaries. When choosing someone to share an apartment with, however, there are different factors coming into play. That’s why it is important to choose a roommate who is both respectful and responsible.

Another consideration to keep in mind when choosing a roommate is that there are no resident assistants or dorm directors in the real world. Be sure to have a roommate who is skilled in conflict resolution. Consider writing up a roommate contract outlining each person’s boundaries.

Get insurance

Yes, apartment renters can get insurance. In the event of a fire or flooding, the landlord will be accountable for the unit but not for the renter’s personal property. Don’t lose everything you value! Get renter’s insurance. Most renter’s insurance policies are actually very affordable. Major insurance companies, such as Geico, even offer renter’s insurance for as low as $12 a month!

Safety first

Leaving your dorm room unlocked might not be a huge deal. But leaving your apartment unlocked can lead to a world of crime. Your eye of discernment and level of attentiveness needs to be way higher when you live off-campus.

There are some preventative measures you can put in place in order to prevent a potential burglary. Research the crime statistics in the area. Do robberies tend to happen in that area? And if you have a car, consider renting an apartment where there is a parking garage or some covered parking.

Don’t over-decorate

Don’t go crazy decorating your new place. Only purchase the necessities and save that money for textbooks, because you still have to pay for those. Also, don’t be afraid to ask relatives and family friends for their unused furniture.

Getting your own place can be an exciting, yet scary process. Be sure to make good decisions and stay safe! Happy apartment hunting!

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