5 tips for maximizing a student’s off-campus living experience

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For the years spent in college or university, campus is often viewed as the “home away from home.” As a student, you spend hours of your time each week sitting in lectures, collaborating on group assignments, studying in school libraries, and finding time in between for part-time jobs.

For those who choose to leave the nest and relocate to a more convenient location near campus, the transition is pretty complex, especially considering you’re a newbie at living solo. Living away from home may have “freedom” written all over it, but it’s a lot more work than finding an affordable place to live, signing a few papers, and moving in.

Consider the walk score

If you’re living near campus, chances are you won’t be driving to school each day. And since you no longer share the same roof with mom and dad, you’ll ideally want to be within walking distance to as many amenities as possible.

A Walk Score assigns a rating between 1 and 100 to residential properties, based on how pedestrian-friendly it is to amenities within the city. The higher the score, the less time you’ll have to spend walking.

Inspect before committing

The web has made it a lot easier for house hunters to find prospective homes. Although it may look good on on a computer monitor, it’s still crucial to visit before committing.

Especially if you’ll be making a long-distance move or living sans roommates, dedicate some time to tour different residences, meet landlords, inspect the home, and walk the neighbourhood.

Know your rights as a tenant

Tenant legal rights typically outline regulations regarding rental increases, tenant privacy, breaking contracts, and residential issues. These rights vary depending on location, so it’s important (especially as a first-time renter) to be in the know and not allow landlords to take advantage of your inexperience.

Searching and knowing your rights are important throughout the entire renting process—from the time you receive the tenant contract, and not just when an issue arises.

Layout house rules with roommates

No parties? Yeah, right.

It is important, however, to establish house rules if you’re choosing to bunk with other students. This can effectively be achieved by collaboratively outlining a list of expectations and responsibilities, which are fair and ideal for all roommates. Consider things like delegating housekeeping, scheduling rent deadlines, and establishing guest accommodations. Be sure this is done together, so each roommate feels as equal as the others.

Don’t break the bank on home décor

Let’s face it: your student budget can’t afford expensive furniture and 1,000-thread-count linens. Although living off-campus is a commitment, it’s still temporary enough that you won’t need to splurge on making your apartment look like a cut-out of a home magazine.

Where it allows, pack up as much as you can from home, and budget to make small décor purchases from affordable retailers. You want to ensure you’ll be as comfortable as possible in your new home, but you don’t need to break the bank to do it.

This article was written by Megan Santos of Jobpostings.ca, Canada’s largest student job network helping post-secondary students find their internships, co-ops, and entry-level jobs to launch their careers. Follow them @Jobpostingsca.

Flickr: Doug Belshaw

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