International students have the choice of living either on campus or off campus during their time abroad.
There are pros and cons to each choice. Most universities encourage students to stay on campus at least for the first semester so they can make new friends easily and minimise adjustment issues.
However, it may be cheaper or more preferable for a college student to live off campus. Or perhaps, you’ve already lived in the dorms and you’re thinking of getting your own place.
Here are some things to note if you plan to live off campus.
Utilities and Rent
While you usually pay a lump sum when living in the dorms, you’ll need to pay for bills individually when you live off campus.
You’ll need to sign up for an Internet subscription service, electricity, water, and in some cases, gas for heating.
Before you choose your accommodation, ask the agent or building manager which utilities you’ll need to pay for. Find out how you’ll need to pay your rent as well because some require payment by cheque while others are fine with a bank transfer.
Also, you’ll need to sign a lease agreement when renting an apartment or house. Read the details carefully and take note of move-in dates, deposits, clauses, and other important information.
This should be high on your priority list when you choose to live off campus. Living in the dorms is generally safer as there are security measures already in place, but it might not be as secure staying off campus.
Do your research on the area you plan to live in and find out the crime rates and how often robberies occur.
Get additional locks such as padlocks for added security and make sure you never share your keys or access cards with anyone.
Make sure your new home is in a good location and you won’t need to walk in the dark or through a dangerous area on your way to class.
It’s also a good idea to get renter’s insurance so you’re covered if anything goes wrong or if your things get stolen.
Make sure you factor this in when choosing a place to live off campus to make your student life a lot easier.
Find out if there’s public transport nearby for you to get to supermarkets, malls, banks, and other places you’ll need to frequent.
It would be better if you can find a place that’s walking distance to a grocery store or supermarket so you can always nip out in a hurry to get what you need.
And of course, choose a place that’s either close to campus or near a bus/train that can reliably take you to class. If you drive, make sure you check that there’s accessible parking at your new apartment or house.
Also, check with your agent or landlord if there are laundry facilities in the building or nearby.
Before you buy furniture for your new home, do research on what to buy and where to buy them so you won’t blow your budget.
There isn’t much point in shelling out for brand new expensive furniture if you’re only going to stay there for a couple of years.
Check Craigslist, Facebook groups, garage sales, or discount stores for cheaper furniture that’s in good condition. Shop during the sales period to save money on appliances, cookware, and other things you’ll need.
You can also rent furniture or appliances at cheaper prices so check around your area for rental agencies.