A Student’s Complete Guide to Finding and Setting Up the Right Off-Campus Housing

Living off-campus is an excellent alternative if you’ve not managed to secure on-campus housing. Or it may be an individual preference due to the freedom, flexibility, and tranquility of living off campus. Whatever your reasons, you may want to be thorough in your search to find the perfect place to enhance your college experience. 

There’s no denying some apartments are shoddy. Finding sterling accommodations takes diligence and a firm grasp of the essentials to look out for. With that in mind, read below for incredible tips for renting and organizing off-campus housing.

7 Tips for Renting and Organizing Off-campus Housing

  1. Search Online
  2. Decide Whether You’ll Live Alone Or With A Roommate
  3. Scrutinize The Amenities
  4. Test The Fixtures
  5. Assess The Convenience
  6. Sign The Lease
  7. Personalize Your Space

Search Online

The online space has a lot to offer, including student housing listings. It’s more convenient than walking from apartment to apartment to inquire about vacancies. First and foremost, check out the websites of apartments near your campus for housing options. For instance, if you attend school in Rexburg, Idaho, you may want to explore American Avenue’s site for more information on available houses, locations, terms and conditions, and rental fees.

Besides websites, social media is an excellent place to find information on off-campus student housing. You can join student Facebook groups that share related information. You can even find opportunities for subletting rooms from fellow students, which might be more budget-friendly than renting firsthand.

Decide Whether You’ll Live Alone Or With A Roommate

Before looking for rental apartments near your school, it’s essential to decide whether you want to live alone, with a friend, or with strangers. Finding suitable housing won’t be challenging if you choose to live alone because there’s no need for coordination with others. A studio apartment or one-bedroom house should be enough for you.

Another option is to collaborate with a friend and share the costs. It’s a prudent way to enjoy life in a big house without overspending on rent. Talk with your friends about the kind and size of the house that’ll fit you all. One bedroom for two is an ideal minimum. So, if you’re four, you can stay comfortably in a two-bedroom apartment and share common spaces like the living room and kitchen.

It’s essential to choose roommates whose nature blends perfectly with yours. For instance, if loud music annoys you, you’d want a roomie who likes soft music. And if you’re not a fan of drinking or smoking, you wouldn’t want a roommate who brings these into the room.

Another critical thing to evaluate is their cleaning habits. Cleanliness is essential in every living space, and you’d want a hygienic partner for optimum comfort. Living with a disorganized person in the same room may be uncomfortable because of the unpleasant smells, unsightly arrangement of household stuff, and health and safety risks they may cause.

If you’re moving in with a long-time friend, you probably already know their habits. So, it won’t be much of a problem. But if it’s a recently known friend, you’d better interview them to understand what kind of person they are and whether you can stay with them. This step is essential because your roommate can significantly make or break your college experience.

Don’t forget to agree on money matters. It would be beneficial to find a roommate who has a similar financial situation to you. This way, they won’t have problems keeping up with rent and utility bill payments. You’ll also probably be cooking or eating out together. You wouldn’t want to eat at different restaurants all the time because one of you desires a luxurious lifestyle and the other cannot afford it.

You may also want a quick background check on aspects like credit history and criminal background. The last thing you’d want is to move in with a dangerous buddy, as they can turn violent at any time. A person with many debts may also not be a good choice because it may be challenging for them to keep up with the bills.

Scrutinize The Amenities

High competition in the off-campus housing industry drives property owners to offer the best. Below is an outline of off-campus housing facilities you’d want to consider:

  • Internet: Whether paid or free, having a stable Internet connection is critical. You’ll often need to research online while studying and working on assignments. Moreover, you’d want to go online for entertainment, maybe through social networks or video streaming platforms.
  • Yard: Staying indoors throughout is unhealthy. Thus, an apartment with a considerably sized yard comes in handy. You can step out, breathe the fresh air, and enjoy the sun whenever you’re free. It’s also an excellent place to hang out with friends whenever they visit you. Besides the yard, you may also want to consider outdoor extensions like patios, which help you enjoy the outdoors.  
  • Parking: If you have a car, you’ll need a secure parking lot where you can leave your vehicle without worrying about theft or vandalism. It’d be best if the parking space is free, as you aim at minimizing costs. You may also want to check the size of the parking lot. A bigger one allows your friends who drive to visit without misgivings.
  • Gym: Keeping fit as a student is vital, which is why you should rent an apartment with fitness facilities. It’d also help to check if they’re equipped with training benches, treadmills, dumbbells, rowing machines, ellipticals, stationary bicycles, etc.
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems: Thermal comfort and air purity help you enjoy your stay indoors. Too cold a room may be uninhabitable during the winter months. Likewise, a space that’s too hot may make you loathe summers. A properly functioning HVAC system ensures optimal thermal comfort all year round.
  • Number of bathrooms: You may have grown to love privacy in bathroom mattes. Thus, you may want a private bathroom that only you can access. Make sure the apartment you rent has such a provision.
  • Pet corner: If you cherish living with your dog, cat, or rabbit, you’d want a house that allows you to do so. Ideally, the house should have a pet corner where you can fit their beds, toys, and feeders.   
  • Closets: There must be enough storage space for your clothes and bedding. Otherwise, your room will look unkempt if you have to pile clothes on your bed or sofa.

The list of amenities can go on and on. Consider those that matter most to you, depending on your lifestyle.

Test The Fixtures

While you can book an apartment online these days, you may want to visit the shortlisted units in person and inspect them firsthand. The images you see on online listings may not always be an accurate representation of reality. Property owners are in business and will always market their houses in a way that convinces students to consider them. Your winning point is visiting the advertised off-campus housing and inspecting every fixture. Here’s an outline of what to do during your reconnaissance tour:

  • Open and lock the windows to ascertain the mechanisms are smooth. Ensure no window pane is missing. Also, there should be no wide gaps in the window frames, as these may make the HVAC system less efficient and increase electricity usage.
  • Inspect the closets, cupboards, and shelves. They should be easy to access and spacious enough to hold your stuff. They should also be clean with no signs of pest infestation. Check out for pest droppings, a buildup of dirt and grime, queer smells, damaged upholstery, gnaw marks, and strange sounds. If you notice any of these, you’d better talk with the property owner about pest extermination before moving in. Pests are destructive and can reduce your clothing and other household stuff waste within no time if you don’t take precautions.
  • Flush the toilets to see if the handles work perfectly. Also, check the water pressure, as you wouldn’t want a system that doesn’t drive away the waste with one flush.
  • Run the shower and confirm whether the head lets out water adequately and amusingly. Such little things enhance your college experience. Additionally, turn on the water heater and check whether the water comes out hot enough. There’s no denying some hot showers are inefficient, letting out cold water instead of warm.  
  • Turn on the lights and assess the illumination. It must be sufficient for reading and performing everyday chores. While fixing new light bulbs may help bring more light, it may not help if there aren’t enough light outlets, especially for rooms with complex shapes. In this case, you may want to speak with the landlord about adding more light points.
  • Inspect the walls, floors, and ceilings for any signs of damage like scuffs, cracks, or scratches. You may want to discuss these things with the property owner before moving in so that you’re not labeled as the culprit later on.
  • Assess the overall cleanliness of the property, not just within your house. Shared spaces like staircases and verandahs should be spick and span. The lawn should be neatly manicured and the bushes perfectly trimmed. There should be a proper rubbish collection system in place. Waste collection bins with fitting covers ensure trash doesn’t scatter everywhere.

When testing the fixtures, take ample time and imagine yourself living in the apartment. If anything seems frustrating during your visit, you’d better talk it out with the owner there and then. Otherwise, it’ll be a daily nuisance as long as you live there.

Assess The Convenience

Part of the reason you’re looking for an off-campus house may be because you desire some quiet from the hustle and bustle of campus. However, it doesn’t mean your apartment should be so far from the school.

Walking or commuting long distances every morning and evening may prove hectic and quickly wear you out. It’d be good to choose an off-campus residence close enough to the school, perhaps a walking distance or a few minute’s drive.

So, once you locate the target rental apartment, walk up to your school and note how long it takes. A reasonable measure is 10 to 15 minutes. And if you must board a bus, see that it doesn’t take more than 30 minutes to get to school.

Besides the distance to campus, you may also want to assess the accessibility of amenities like restaurants, grocery stores, supermarkets, and entertainment clubs. The nearer they are to your apartment, the more you’ll enjoy your stay.

Sign The Lease

After such a thorough background check, you should be ready to sign the lease. Read the contract agreement carefully, ensuring you understand all terms and conditions. Seek clarification on any rule you don’t fully understand.

At this juncture, you should also note any damages in the apartment in writing. Accompany the notes with images to be on the safe side. You wouldn’t want blame heaped on you for damages you didn’t inflict.   

Pay the first month’s rent and the required security deposits. You may also want to inquire about subletting options if the apartment you rent is too big for you to stay alone.

Personalize Your Space

The last step in your house-hunting mission is moving in and personalizing the space. It’d help to hire a moving company if you have heavy and delicate furniture and household appliances to bring into your new residence. Other than that, you may want to personalize the room in the following ways:

  • Use washi tape to add a splash of color to fixtures like kitchen cabinets. You can also draw geometric decorations on the walls using washi tapes
  • For installed appliances like fridges, you can give them a visual makeover with stainless steel contact paper
  • Purchase and fix removable vinyl cabinet covers
  • Use fabric to hide unsightly walls or ceiling
  • Install your preferred light fixtures to replace plain ones
  • Fix some wallpaper
  • Install carpets to disguise unpleasant floors
  • Buy new window blinds if the installed ones are already looking worn out
  • Add potted indoor plants to infuse nature into your interiors for a relaxing ambiance

Most property owners won’t have a problem with these personalization features. However, it’d still be best to seek their consent to avoid misunderstandings and possible penalties.


Finding suitable off-campus housing requires thorough scrutiny of the apartments against your desired features. Don’t depend on online images to decide on renting a given unit. Visit the premises in person and inspect it thoroughly to ensure it meets your expectations.

This way, you avoid unnecessary complaints. You’d also want to ask friends for recommendations. Students ahead of you may already know the excellent apartments you can live in comfortably. A proper choice of housing makes your college experience more fantastic.

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