Living in the dorm may be perfect for some people, but it's not for everyone. Many people report that rooms in dorms are small and they find it difficult to work because they can get noisy. On top of that, living in the dorm can be really expensive when you figure in the mandatory meal plan that many colleges require you to pick up if you are a dorm resident. So does this mean that getting your own apartment is the best way to go? It might. There are some things to consider before you begin your search.
Before you start searching, know what you can afford and commit to sticking to that amount. If you will be paying for your apartment from your own income, take a look at how much can you afford in monthly rent and write that amount down. Don't even consider looking at places that are higher than that amount if you are trying to rent a place on your own - if you do, you can easily find yourself in financial trouble, and that's not a good way to start out.
Know your credit score before you start your search. Many landlords have a minimum score that they'll consider for a prospective renter. If you are just starting out and in college, you may have low credit or no credit at all. Read through can I rent if I have bad credit to find ideas on how you can go about renting with low credit or no credit. Yes, there are ways! This article also provides you with links to the three major credit bureaus and it tells you how you can go about finding out your credit score for free. If you are just beginning to think about renting and want to work at improving your credit before you even get to the point of searching for a rental, there are tips for what you can do.
Understand the costs you'll incur to actually get to the stage of renting. You'll need to pay rental application fees each time you want to apply for a rental. For this reason, you'll want to minimize the number of places you apply to and you'll want to make sure that when you do apply, your rental application is approved. You'll want to understand the reasons that your rental application can be denied. If you are approved as a renter, you'll most likely need to pay a security deposit (usually one or two months rent up front that is held until your lease ends - if there is no damage and you haven't violated the terms of your lease, you should get it back). When signing the lease, you'll be asked for the security deposit and typically the first month's rent. If you've never had utilities such as electric, gas, water, and sewer in your own name, you'll need to pay deposits up front for these as well.
Determine if you can afford to rent on your own or if you would be better off renting with a roommate. By having a roommate, you can reduce the amount of money you'll need up front and the amount you'll spend each month by splitting it with one or more people. There are downsides to having roommates including reduced privacy, needing to work with others on finances, and potential liability if your roommates don't pay their fair share or if they cause damage. If your goal is to live as inexpensively as possible, give serious consideration to finding a good roommate.
Just like you can find that you need a cosigner when you make your first big purchase and need a loan, you can also find that having a cosigner can be helpful when you are renting for the first time. If you have no credit or poor credit, a cosigner can make a landlord feel comfortable renting to you. Talk with your parents - if they are in agreement with your wanting to live off campus, they may be willing to cosign in order for you to get your own place.
It's important to know your rights as a renter even before you become one. Find the laws in your state regarding renters and landlords (this article explains how you can do that). It's also important that you understand the obligations of tenants when leasing as well as the obligations of landlords.
Before you start searching, do everything possible to make sure you don't get scammed. There are plenty of known rental scams out there. Make sure you understand the signs that you are working with a scammer.
Strongly consider using a realtor when looking for a rental property. There shouldn't be any cost to you as the potential renter (the property owner who has listed the property will be responsible for the realtor's fees), they can help you through the process, they'll know the area, and they'll have access to properties listed in the Multiple Listing Service. Especially in a competitive rental market, getting in quickly and getting your application in right away is key once you find the place you want. Think about the features that matter most to you as a renter, and share these with your realtor so they'll be able to help you see just the places that have what you want/need.
Protect yourself with renters insurance. Renters insurance protects your personal property, not the property of the owner (like the appliances and the dwelling itself). It's hard enough to get yourself started early on - don't risk losing what you have because you don't insure your property.
Going off to college is a major life event, and as exciting as it seems, it can be frightening! Knowing as much as you can up front can help make the process of renting on your own for the first time go as smoothly as possible. Good luck and happy searching!
At www.leesburg4rent.com all of our Leesburg Florida rental properties are currently reserved and are being enjoyed by our tenants. However, we maintain our blog Monday through Friday at www.leesburg4rent.com/blog - our Monday and Wednesday posts are of interest to people in Lake County, Florida. On Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, we focus on issues of interest to renters and landlords.
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This post may contain affiliate links, meaning recommendations to products or services. I may receive a commission if you purchase from them (products) or if you request a quote (insurance). This will be at no additional cost to you.
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