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10 Things You Need To Know As An Off-Campus Student
5 MIN

10 Things You Need To Know As An Off-Campus Student

Housing Tips
5 MIN
|
Uploaded on
Aug 19, 2022
|
Last updated on
Oct 22, 2022
Uploaded on
Aug 19, 2022
|
Last updated on
Oct 22, 2022
Off campus housing tips
With great power comes a great electricity bill

Introduction

Movie marathons, pulling all-nighters, cooking disasters and wine nights with friends are all quintessential parts of your college experience. University life isn't limited to your classes - it's an amalgamation of everything from the friends you meet to the home you make. At college, your home becomes your sanctuary, study and escape, so it's essential to feel comfortable in the space you choose to live in. 

Students may opt to live on campus in the first few years of university, but that isn't always an option. Some universities may not provide on-campus residences, and off-campus student housing may be the only option. Many people prefer off-campus student housing as it is often more affordable and less restrictive than on-campus housing. There’s a lot more freedom when you live off-campus, but if college is the first time you live away from home, knowing what to expect from off-campus student housing can be a little challenging. We’ve put together a list of things you should keep in mind when thinking of off-campus student housing so you’re prepared for everything that comes your way. 

Choose the right location 

Choosing the right location when looking for off-campus student housing is essential. There’s a lot to consider when picking the location of your next home. Location is often directly related to the cost and size of your home. There are a couple of different things students can prioritise when house hunting like:

Proximity to college

College will likely take up most of your time, so many students choose to be as close to their university as possible. There are often apartment complexes near universities almost exclusively occupied by students. For instance, the IQ Arkwright house is just a five-minute walk away from the University of Bradford and is wholly occupied by students. Being surrounded by students can make settling into a new environment a little easier. This type of off-campus student housing is the quickest to sell out, so it is best to secure your spot as soon as possible. 

Proximity to friends and family

For some, having a support system nearby is essential. Having friends and family around you, especially in a new environment, can help with settling in and getting acquainted with your surroundings. Choosing off-campus student housing in an area where you have friends or acquaintances can help make the first few months of university life easier. If you know anyone attending the same university, it may also help to initially room with them as you ease into university life. 

Proximity to the city centre

Some universities are far from the city centre, especially those with larger campuses. For example, the University of Oxford is located in a college town, with most of the surroundings being other universities’ campus buildings. In that case, students may opt to live in accommodation on or near campus, or they may even wish to find off-campus student housing further away from the university but closer to livelier parts of the city with shopping centres, clubs and restaurants. 

Find a safe stay 

Safety should be one of your top priorities when choosing off-campus student housing. Whether moving to a new country, a new city or even relocating within your city, picking a safe and secure home is essential to ensuring a comfortable living experience. There are a couple of things you can do to ensure that your off-campus housing is a safe choice, including:

Choose a safe neighbourhood

Before you choose a neighbourhood, research a few areas within the city and check their crime scores. Smaller towns are often safer, while crime rates can be higher in bigger metropolitans, but regardless you should remain safe and secure if you stay aware and alert. For the UK, students can check out crime in their area here, and US residents can check out this website to stay updated. 

Choose a secure building

It is vital to ensure that your chosen apartment complex is safe and secure. Many buildings will often have a lockable facade door, with only residents able to enter the building. It is best to choose a building with a 24x7 security guard or doorman for maximum security. Our website lists various safe and secure properties for students to browse through. Listen to our podcast episode here for detailed information on how we keep our properties secure. 

Think of travel expenses 

Whether it's to college or the grocery store, commuting is unavoidable. Travel expenses can also add up quickly, whether you take public transportation or have your vehicle. Depending on your preferences, you must consider how you plan to commute while in off-campus student housing. There are many different ways students can commute like:

Private vehicle

Students can choose to get a personal vehicle like a car, scooter or bicycle to get around the city. Bikes are the most cost-effective vehicle, while cars may be more suitable for students with a longer commute. However, if you are planning to get a car, ensure that your off-campus student housing provides free or subsidised parking for residents. 

Public transportation

If a private vehicle is not an option, ensure that your off-campus housing is near public transit like a bus stop or train station. Ensure that the bus or train routes near your accommodation are well connected to your university, grocery stores and shopping centres. 

Walking

Most students prefer walking as their primary means of transportation, and while it is the most affordable way to get around, it isn't always feasible. Longer distances will always be cumbersome to walk, and in bad weather conditions like rain or snow, walking is ill-advised. 

Find a furnished home

Moving into a new home often also requires buying all new furniture. When looking for a new home, try to find an apartment that is at least partly, if not fully furnished. Most students move out of their student homes after 1-2 years, and some even after a few months. Buying furniture is often not a smart investment for such short leases. There are plenty of off-campus student housing options that come fully furnished, like PBSAs. PBSAs are purpose-built student accommodations that are ideal for students. To learn more about PBSAs and what they have to offer, you can watch our FAQ video. 

Amenities and utilities 

In some instances, off-campus student housing properties come with a range of different amenities that residents can make use of. If having an on-site gym or fitness centre is important to you, look for properties that mention these amenities on their website. Another essential feature to look out for is on-site laundry facilities. Apartment complexes usually have a laundry room on each floor or in the basement of the building, but some may even have a washer and dryer unit in each apartment. You can even find amenities like swimming pools, tennis courts, and cinema rooms at higher-end apartments. 

Utilities refer to things like electricity, gas, wifi and hot water, which you will need daily. Some off-campus housing options will include the cost of utilities within the rent, which makes paying bills every month much less complicated. If utilities aren’t included within the rent, you must ensure that you have set up your gas and electricity before moving into your apartment so it’s ready when you need to move in. 

Research lease terms

After finalising off-campus housing, you will likely be required to sign a lease agreement. Depending upon the country you are staying in, lease agreement terms may differ, but it is vital to know the different types of lease agreements and terms so you can ensure your agreement is fair. Some important lease terms to know are:

Security Deposit

Many leases will ask for a security deposit usually equal to a month's rent. The deposit is recoverable after your lease ends, provided the apartment has no damage. 

Application Fee

Some leases may require you to submit an application fee. This should ideally not exceed 100 pounds. 

Brokers Fee

If you go through a broker, they may charge you a fee for finding an apartment. However, you will also be able to find services that help you search for off-campus housing without charging a broker’s fee. You can check out the process here.

Rent Guarantor

Most students must also have a guarantor to sign their lease. In most cases, a guarantor can be a parent. However, the UK has stricter  requirements. For more information on rent guarantors, check out the 7th episode of our ask amber podcast here! 

Invest in renter’s insurance

Many students don’t always invest in or even know about renter’s insurance. Having renter’s insurance secures you against rental scams and guards and ensures that you are compensated if anything happens to go wrong while signing your lease or during your stay. Renter’s insurance also covers you for any damage done to personal items while staying in on or off-campus student housing. It should even compensate you for any stolen property. Check with your insurance provider if you are a domestic student to see if they cover the renter’s insurance. As an international student, you may invest in renter’s insurance and can talk to our university to see whether they have any insurance policies they recommend. 

Pack strategically 

Before you fill your bag with kitchen utensils, large duvets and shower products, check your off-campus housing and see whether they provide any of these items. Many apartments often come with microwaves, ovens and refrigerators, so you won’t have to worry about making arrangements for these items. Sometimes, shipping extra baggage to your college or paying for an additional check-in bag may be more expensive than buying new things. Compare the costs of items like towels, bedding, kitchen utensils and toiletries against the cost and logistics of arranging to bring these items yourself and make an informed decision on which option makes more sense to pursue. 

Know your neighbours

Getting to know your neighbours is one of the easiest ways to make friends when living in off-campus student housing. It is also great for feeling more secure and comfortable in your home. Having friendly faces around can make moving a lot easier. Compared to living on campus, getting to know your classmates as an off-campus student may be slightly more challenging. However, living off campus allows you to make friends with people in different years, majors and even colleges and expand your social network outside your university friends. 

Decorate your home! 

Last but certainly not least - decorate your home! Students don’t often put in the time and effort required to set up a home, and that can lead to feelings of unfamiliarity and discomfort. Putting up pictures of friends and family, buying bedding and having plants are all great ways of adding some personality to your home. Decorating doesn’t need to be expensive. Thrift stores are a great place to find cheap but quirky additions to your home. You can also get together a group of friends and DIY some home decor, like add bookshelves, spruce up old furniture or make paintings for your walls. Many colleges even have marketplaces where graduating students sell any old furnishings once they move out. For more room decor ideas, click here!

Off-campus housing tips

Conclusion

Living as an off-campus student is just as much, if not more, fun than living on campus. College is the perfect time for you to gain some independence and learn how to start managing life on your terms. Living off campus gives you the freedom to explore and try out a new lifestyle as you figure out what works for you. We hope you’ve found our off-campus housing tips helpful and wish you all the best on your student journey! 

Frequently Asked Questions

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