Tips for Finding an Affordable Apartment Close to Campus

Most college students are on a tight budget, and housing costs are a main expense. Additionally, many students don't own a car and depend on public transportation, walking, and biking to get them where they need to go, so finding an affordable apartment close to campus is a necessity. As a college student, finding the right housing for your needs is a financial and emotional decision. Here are some factors for you to keep in mind.

Listing Your Must-Haves

Depending on your financial situation, you may have to forgo some amenities. While a pool and tennis or basketball courts are nice, you will likely make friends who invite you to share their amenities, plus your school or public parks may provide free or inexpensive options. The main things that most apartment dwellers look for are these:

  • Safety—A safe neighborhood is essential, especially if you are walking and riding your bike often after dark.
  • Accessibility—You need to be close to campus, but also to shopping and public transportation.
  • Outdoor Area—A small yard, a patio, or a social gathering area in an apartment complex allows you to enjoy time with your friends outdoors.
  • Affordable Utilities—Some apartments may include utility packages or cover some utilities.
  • Good Parking—If you have a car, look for parking that is close to your apartment and well-lighted.

Living Alone

If you feel you must live alone, you may have to sacrifice amenities and space. Most college towns have an abundance of studio apartments, and some private owners have tiny cottages or mother-in-law suites that are quite affordable.

Sharing Expenses with a Roommate

Many campuses have inexpensive shared housing, such as 4-bedroom, 4-bath apartments for which each person pays individual rent but shares common areas. For living off campus, your college probably has a roommate matching service. Qualities you and your roommates should share are these:

  • Financial Responsibility—You definitely want roommates that pay their bills on time.
  • Cleanliness—Being a clean freak stuck with a slob can be maddening.
  • Social Compatibility—Serious students and party animals don't mix.
  • Moral Compatibility—A good example is a strongly religious student not wanting a roommate who is promiscuous or that uses illegal drugs.

Finding affordable housing near campus can be challenging, especially for first-year students, so start early and have all your paperwork in order. If you feel uncomfortable tackling this on your own or simply don't have time to look extensively for housing, your school may provide helpful services. You can also use a local real estate agency like Uptown Rental Properties to help you find nicer, privately owned properties that aren't listed with your school or check online classified sites.