College Connect: How I Prepared for Off-Campus Living

Posted By David Wilhite

By Denver Ellison

Before making the final decision to move into an off-campus apartment, many of us may wonder what the difference is between living on and off campus. We go back and forth in our heads on if it is worth it to come out of pocket every month only because we want our own place. On top of that, we have to figure out which friends will be the most compatible for living together. If you have your mind set on off-campus living, but you don’t know how to go about it, do not fret. I am almost a year into living off-campus and I think I have figured out the logistics.

I knew that if I were to move into an off-campus apartment, it would be with the closest friend I had at school. Even though people say moving in with your best friend is a mistake, I knew we would be fine because we had gotten to know each other’s personalities quite well. Plus, we both like to keep our areas neat, so cleanliness would not be a problem. Choosing a roommate is more than just living with your best friend, it’s about making the decision based on what personalities you feel you can live with and be around. Your roommate should be someone you trust, someone who respects you, and someone you know is financially responsible.

When searching for apartments, my roommate and I looked for places fairly close to campus with prices we knew we could both afford. We also made sure to look for a place that would be fully furnished and include most of the utilities in the price. Luckily for us, we visited one apartment complex and knew that it was the place for us. It was a two bedroom, with a reasonable rent and all the utilities included except for electricity. Once we agreed on the place, we discussed our decision with our parents.

The next plan of action was to make sure I planned out my finances. My mom and I sat down and mapped out the estimated cost for the upcoming lease term. She wanted to help me understand how much I would need to save and how much money I would need for each month. We started by adding up how much my rent would cost for the next year, and then proceeded to map out the electric bill, groceries, and everything else I’d need. This was the most beneficial part of getting ready for an off-campus lifestyle. It helped me to stay realistic on how much my new lifestyle would cost. It’s better to start with financial estimations and budget from there rather than guess your way through the whole process.

The final step is to start accumulating the funds you need. The best way to do this is to get a summer job. In order to pay for rent, you need a job with steady income that can leave you with more than just the bare minimum to survive on. The summer before moving into my apartment, I worked as a hostess at a restaurant earning ten dollars an hour. I devoted most of my week nights to the job since it was easy and the money was good. Most of the money I earned from this job was tucked away in my savings account to use for the rent I would soon be paying. When filling out my financial information for school, I took out the same amount in loans that I would use if I was living on campus. This was another source of money I used to help pay for rent and other things I needed for my apartment.

Before writing off the apartment lifestyle, think about the cost and benefits of this decision. Off-campus living requires planning and budgeting. You have to understand exactly what you are getting into and have a plan of attack so you are not overwhelmed with bills. The off-campus lifestyle can be affordable if you make a plan that works for you and stick to it.

Denver Ellison is a journalism major at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication

 

 

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