Your Guide to Off Campus Living


After a year or two in the dorms, you’re ready to make it on your own! Or, maybe you’re graduating and they just won’t let you crash on campus anymore. Summer is the perfect time to move into that new apartment and since we’re nearing the end of the semester, it’s time to start looking. But, off-campus living is drastically different than on campus. There are a few things you can (and should) do to prepare for this change.

Consider that you now have a landlord or lessee.

  • Make a good impression! The more respect you show to them and their property, the more they will respect and trust you in return.
  • Come prepared with questions. During your first visit, nerves may flutter and you forget all of those important details you wanted to ask about.
  • Write everything down. Any agreements made aloud should be put into a contract, for your sake and the lessee’s. Don’t just take someone’s word, get it in writing.
  • Take inventory of the house or apartment. Some apartment complexes will do this anyway. But before you move anything in, go through the living space and write down every detail about the way it comes. Then give a copy to your landlord and keep one for yourself.

Remember you will be cooking for yourself now.

  • Learn some simple recipes. No need to become a professional chef, just learn to make a few good meals so you have more options than fast food.
  • Look into meal prepping. If you’re very busy most of the time, this could be a great option to eat somewhat healthy. Prepping helps makes mealtime quick and easy.
  • If you have a roommate, address sharing food. Roommates can be wonderful or awful and food is a huge deciding factor for that outcome.
  • Don’t get bugs! Leaving food out, forgetting to clear old food or forgetting the dishes too long can cause bugs easier than you would imagine. And if you get bugs, you (or part of your security deposit) may have to pay for an exterminator.

Paperwork and other requirements to rent.

  • Security deposit. When first signing a lease, a security deposit will most likely be requested. This is for the renter to pull from if damages occur within the time of rental and if damages are found/created when you move out.
  • Credit. Most renters will want proof of your credit to ensure you can afford the rent. Know your credit score and information. But, if you don’t have any credit (since not a lot of college students and young graduates do), please refer to the next point.
  • Cosigner. A cosigner can typically be used if you don’t have any credit for proof that someone will be able to pay rent. If someone else will be helping you pay rent, they should be the cosigner.
  • Application to rent. Some renters will require an application to rent and will consider this first when deciding to rent to you. If possible, on the first visit, come prepared with the application to rent ready to hand over if you liked the tour.

There is a different payment structure.

  • First month’s rent. This will usually be due soon after you sign a contract or upon move in. Prepare yourself to make this payment upfront.
  • Security deposit. As mentioned previously, a security deposit will typically be paid upfront as money for potential damages. This can be a pretty hefty amount, so be ready. But, whatever does not get used on damages during your stay there should get returned to you.
  • Utility bills. These have most likely been lumped into one full payment for on-campus living, but off-campus will typically be paid monthly per use. This means they can be more expensive during certain seasons or depending on your level of use.
  • Other bills. Just like the utility bills, some other amenities have been lumped into on campus housing payments like cable, wifi, etc. These will become extra payments to make and you should prepare to make these payments each month.

If you’re renting for the first time, what are you most excited for? What are you afraid of? Share your thoughts in the comments below. And, if you have any questions about our properties or the rental process itself, give our Northstar Properties team a call at 405-310-6450.