College dorms are a nightmare: the lack of privacy, space and overall freedom is a constant reminder of how bad you can’t wait to move into your own apartment. Saying goodbye to curfews, waiting for the bathroom, and the unfortunate roommate is a tangible feeling of euphoria, but with such privilege comes great financial responsibilities. Here are a few tips to keep in mind for those college students looking to rent:
Know what you can afford.
Focus on what you need and not what you want. The luxury downtown loft looks amazing but is not feasible on a college budget. Understand that the biggest chunk of your earnings will go towards rent, so make sure to keep this in mind when looking for an apartment. Rule of thumb: No more than 30% of your monthly gross income should be spent on housing.
A good way to know what you can afford is to put together a budgeting plan. List your sources of income along with your fixed and variable expenses to come up with what you can spend each month on rent. Your fixed and variable expenses should include: transportation, food, and utilities ( inquire for an estimate). Consider items you may need throughout the year for class, must haves for the apartment and renter’s insurance.
Finding a suitable roommate can cut these costs in half. Before committing to a roommate, ask yourself these basic questions: Are you similar in personalities and how will you get along?, Do they have a reliable source of income and will they be able to afford rent and utilities monthly?, and Are they willing to sign and commit to the terms of the lease for the entire duration of the lease agreement?
These question will help you decide if a roommate is right for you. Remember if your roommate decides to skip out on the rent, you will be responsible for the entire rent amount.
Do The Research.
When considering an apartment, doing the research is key to protecting yourself from overpriced rental agreements. If the price is too good to be true, make sure to look over the lease agreement and terms carefully. Beware of rental scams and inconsiderate fine print.
READ THE LEASE. Reading the lease is common sense but usually ignored due to the excitement of moving in or rushing the process.
The lease terms and conditions is valuable when figuring the price of the apartment. Usually leasing offices offer 1 year, 6 month, 3 month and month to month lease agreements. Generally, the longer the lease is the cheaper your rent will be. Figure out what is best for you. Keep in mind, breaking your lease early can mean more money or finding a suitable subleaser. Abandoning a lease can cause great damage to your financial history and legal consequences for you and anyone whose name is attached to the lease.
Keep a Savings plan.
Keeping a savings plan is a good way to help yourself get out of tough financial situations. There are so many uncertainties in life but your rent isn’t one of them. Prepare for unexpected expenses by putting in place a savings plan.
Renting an Apartment is a big step. Being prepared can help you avoid unfortunate events and staying on top of your rent. For more information on renting and budgeting tips visit our Common Cents Blog at www.nccfcu.org.