How to Live Off-Campus as an International Student

Living in the room of the University residence halls deprives you of your privacy. You feel crammed sharing a bathroom with twenty other students. If you want your privacy, it is time to look for a place outside the dorm. Again, it might not be easy but it could be done!

You need to prepare and make certain decisions. Remember you have to fulfill some responsibilities: like doing your own laundry, learning how to prepare your meals and setting up your cable or internet. Here are some tips on starting to search for your own place:

Find roommates

If you cannot afford to pay your own place, a roommate can take off 50% of your load. You can recruit some of your friends to live off campus with you. Living off campus gives you the opportunity to learn to handle responsibilities and assume the role of an adult. Using your Math, you will realize that the more roommates you have, the lower the cost for a bigger house will be. Plus enjoying the the benefit of having your own room and bathroom.

Start an early search

Do you know that the 20 people sharing your bathroom in the dorm might also be thinking of finding their own place with friends? So you have competition, start an early search! Landlords know which units are available by February or March every year and give leases as early as May. The internet is the best place to start searching. Companies like CORT helps students to find apartments near campuses. Your school might also recommend certain landlords or apartment complexes nearby as upperclassmen move out.

Which is better – house or apartment?

A home has bigger space but it demands great responsibility. Living in a school dorm frees you from various payments in running a household. Under “Room and Board,” your payment covers everything. Your meals, utilities, furniture, and others are all included. Renting a house or apartment is a big decision. Ask yourself these questions before you make a decision.

Can you assume all these responsibilities?

Houses are more expensive to operate as they require more energy to cool during summer and warm up during winter. In a house, your obligation in utilities include: electricity, gas, sewage and water, electricity, gas, and sewage.

An apartment is cheaper since most apartments already include water and sewage in the rental. You pay for electricity. In either case, you have also to set up your internet.

Are there enough friends to fill in a house?

A house is rented out with only a single lease. If one of your recruits decided to backs out, you will have to fill in that spot or divide the cost with the others. Unless you can recruit another friend, all your share of the rental will be increased.

Is the place near the campus?

Houses near the campus are more expensive and most are apartments. Decide how far you want your place to be? Biking to the campus is convenient. However, are you willing to bike or to drive your way to the campus? Remember the changing weather patterns especially in the place where you live. Biking in bad weather is never fun.

Do you want plenty of space?

Houses are spacious and give you the luxury of having your own yard. In an apartment, only a wall separates you from the neighbors. But a house needs more work and expense to maintain. You have to mow the lawn and clean the gutters. In an apartment, it is often the landlord or leasing office that takes exterior care of the building.

If you live off-campus, will it be a house or apartment?

Nghi Tran – CFO/ Marketing Manager in Vietnam

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