While living on campus offers the obvious benefits of convenience and community, living off campus can also connect you to the vitality of the city and the urban art scene.
When looking at apartments, consider the following:
- Most landlords require a security deposit upon move in. This protects them from any damage you may cause to the apartment. Security deposits can vary from a half month's rent to two months' rent.
- Ask if utilities are included in the monthly rent. If not, ask the landlord what average monthly utility bills may be.
- Talk to other tenants in the building. They can tell you what to expect in terms of safety, the landlord and the heat/hot water service.
- Check the edges of the apartment door and mailbox for any indication of break-ins or vandalism.
- If ceilings or walls show watermarks, remember you'll have to find a safe place to store your art supplies, portfolios, etc. Watermarks around the bottom of bathroom walls may mean the toilet backs up.
- Look around the building and yard to get an idea of repairs that might be needed. Try to determine how receptive the manager/landlord is to making repairs.
- Ask if there is a fire alarm (or alarms) in the building and check the condition of any fire escapes. All residential buildings should have working fire alarms in addition to a fire escape plan.
- Look out the windows. If there are a lot of people nearby, consider the possible noise level, and how it will affect your studying.
- Most apartments will not have laundry facilities, so you'll want to know the location of the nearest laundromat, as well as the nearest grocery store.
- Take time to look around the neighborhood to get a feel for safety.
- Apartment buildings should have a secure, well-lit parking lot. If only street parking is available, make sure it is well lit and close to where you will be living.