What to Know About Living Off-Campus

default article imageAs students move up in their college careers, many develop a desire to live off-campus. While many look forward to making the transition from on-campus to off, there are responsibilities and things to keep in mind that go into living on your own.

Finding a Rental

There are multiple things to consider when looking for a rental. Numerous and varied housing options are offered to students and those should determine what type of housing they want before contacting landlords and realtors.

One of the options is to live in an apartment building; which there are many large and small apartment buildings in the Monmouth University area. Apartment buildings generally contain studio to two bedroom units. Houses are another option where you can find single, two, and three bedroom houses in areas surrounding the University.

“I like living in a house because there is more space to move around,” said junior David DeSimone.

You may also find apartments or houses that may already have existing tenants that are looking for a roommate. Some people choose to work in exchange for room and board. This may require 10 to 15 hours of services such as childcare, eldercare, tutoring, housekeeping, chauffeuring, and general maintenance being exchanged for room and board.

Reviewing your finances is another good step to look into where you want to live. It is important to decide what is feasible and affordable for you to live as well as thinking about your expenses such as food and gas.

“When you set parameters on your spending, you will be less likely to run out of money unexpectedly,” said Vaughn Clay, Director of the Office of Off-Campus and Commuter Services.

By taking time to figure out how much you can afford before signing a lease, you can avoid missing a payment or paying bills late. “Just about everyone needs to get into the habit of working within a monthly budget,” said Vaughn.

Then do some research and look into the surrounding communities and decide which is best for you. Concerns would be the amount of traveling time it will take you to get to class/work each day, how you plan to travel (car, bike, walk, bus), and where the bank and grocery store is located.

Identify some possible rentals and make appointments to go see them first before making any final decisions. If you are considering sharing an apartment or a house, think about your lifestyle preferences and the preferences of your potential roommate(s).

Sharing a Rental

Sharing your living space could be just as much of a challenge as living on your own. There should be several discussions with your roommates such as food, expenses, and establishing a set of ground rules that you can all agree on. “When students are working together to seamlessly fit into their respective neighborhoods, they wind up having an off-campus experience that is memorable for all of the right reasons,” said Clay.

Gather all of your housing options and decide which is best for the group as well as what is cheapest. Living alone in a studio or a one bedroom apartment will probably be the most expensive option. Many times, the more people living in a house or an apartment, the cheaper it would cost. Check with the landlord/ manager and the town to see if the number of people you plan to live with exceeds the number of tenants permitted.

Selecting a Roommate

When choosing a roommate or roommates, there will most likely be many differences of opinion. “Communication is the foundation for creating a sense of trust, honesty, and respect among the roommates,” said Clay. “If everyone is communicating with one another, then there shouldn’t be too many problems that cannot be overcome within the group of roommates.”

Such things should be discussed including: how the rent will be divided, if food would be shared or purchased individually, household supplies and furniture, respecting each other’s personal property; if anyone will have overnight guests, how often, and for how long. “Good communication is important because of people’s conflict in schedules,” said Shaina Tinsley, a junior, from Mays Landing, NJ. “If you have visitors, you need to respect your roommates in case they have tests or work early in the morning.”

Understanding Your Lease

Review the lease between you and the landlord. The lease is a signed contract and all tenants are responsible for what it says on the lease after the signature is given. When signing a lease, you are legally bound to the terms and agreements stated. “When tenants do not read the lease, they are exposing themselves to a host of unexpected and unpleasant possibilities,” said Clay.

Moving Out

Just like there are guidelines to moving into a rental, there are guidelines to moving out as well. “You need to notify the landlord of your move out date so you can hopefully schedule an inspection of the unit in order to get your security deposit back and not get charged for anything that may occur after you move out,” said Clay.

This is in a written form called a Letter of Termination, which includes your name, your rental, the date you will be moving out, and your new address. It will usually say on the lease how far in advance you will need to give notice, but if you do not have a written lease, you must give notice 30 days before rent is due. “Everything related to a rental experience is tied in the process of documentation,” said Clay.

Before leaving, you also need to clean your rental, thoroughly removing anything that belongs to you and/or your roommates. The final steps to moving out are to returning your keys to your landlord and making sure to get your security deposit back.

For other questions, stop in to the Off-Campus and Commuter Services Office on the second floor of the Rebecca Stafford Student Center and speak to Clay. You can also find more information on the Monmouth University website, e-mail occs@monmouth. edu, reach by Facebook at MU Off-Campus or Twitter at @ monmouthuOCCS.