This time of year is full of renters pushing you to sign the lease right now. Like right now. Oh you like this place? You should probably get it now, because it might not be there tomorrow. And truth is that can happen. But you also shouldn’t give them your money and sign any papers before you have thought everything through.
1. Make sure you are happy with the people you are living with. Living with your friends is a ton of fun. You can make plans to go out in your living room or you can make your living room your plans. It’s great. But you have to make sure that you are living with people that you get along with really well. You also have to consider if it will affect your friendship. Did anyone warn you against rooming with your best friend freshman year? It wasn’t just because they wanted you to branch out. Living with anyone in close quarters can be difficult. There are going to be little things that get to you or that you aren’t used to. It is part of living with other people. Know what you can live with and what you might end up resenting your best friend for. Does a mess drive you crazy? Maybe you shouldn’t room with the friend that constantly has her clothes and books scattered.
2. Go over the costs. Are you going to be able to pay the rent every month? What is included? Here are some things to ask the landlords/renters:
- Are utilities included?
- What do we have to pay separately for?
- How much is the security deposit? Is it more or less than an actual months rent?
3. How many people do you want to live with?
- How many people are allowed to sign the lease? There are certain codes and regulations that only allow a certain number of people to live in an apartment/house. It often varies depending on how many bedrooms there are.
- What if we need subleasers?
- Are you okay with sharing a room?
- Know how to say no if you don’t agree with everyone on something. And be honest about who you want to live with. Sometimes it’s tricky, but you have to be honest.
4. Location. This can be a huge reason not to live somewhere. How close are you to your classes/job? Are you near other friends? If you are more than a five-minute walk away from your friends, you are most likely not going to see them very often. It’s not like in the dorms where you can walk 10 feet to hang out with a bunch of friends. You have to put an effort into going to see your friends, and especially in the colder months you will want to stay in close proximity to home. Also, consider what the neighborhood is like. If you are going to be a junior, do you really want to re-sign in the “sophomore slums?”
5. What other details should I ask the landlord/renters?
- Do I need renters insurance?
- When can we move in? Is there a certain move-in time? Some places need time to evaluate the apartment/house before new people move in to check for any damages. They also might offer cleaning services and need to know what kind of mess the previous people left behind.
- Who can we contact with any further questions?
6. Are you planning on studying abroad next year? This can be a super important factor, because if you sign a lease for an apartment/house, you are usually committing to the place for the year. That means that you either need to find some one who is willing to sublease or pay for the living space even when you aren’t living there. It is expensive and frustrating to pay for housing when you are going to be paying so much for study abroad to begin with that semester. So subleasing is probably your best option. Unless you want to live in the dorms the other semester. You then have to find someone who will get along with your other roommates and make sure it is okay with them. Some people don’t want to live with strangers, so you have to be respectful and make sure the people you want to live with are fully aware of your intentions before you sign. Get to know these people before they take over your spot. What do you really know about them?
7. Would you be okay living co-ed? Living co-ed could open up some more options. For example, if you are looking to sublease you might be able to find someone more easily if you can sublease to either a guy or girl. Or if you are looking to live with more people, you have more options to choose from. However, living co-ed isn’t for everyone. Do what makes you most comfortable. After all, this is where you are going to be calling home for a while.
All of that being said, try not to stress too much. Getting your own house/apartment is really exciting. You are getting more freedom than in the dorms, and you don’t have to wear flip flops in the shower. Just make sure that by the end of this process you are happy with your choices, and that you are excited to move into the next stage of your life.
This post first appeared on Her Campus.