College renter

Heather Leighton is a University of Texas at Austin graduate with a B.A. in Journalism. She believes that every story has multiple points of view and it is her job to reveal every relevant angle. For more about her and her work visit

The average cost of living on campus for a year ranges from $7,500 to $9,000. This typically includes a 229 square foot room, equipped with a roommate, a community bathroom down the hall and quality meals prepared by the school cafeteria. Thanks freshman fifteen.

So you’ve lived through your first year and you’re ready to move off campus. This is yet another step in adulthood. Renting your first apartment can be rough waters for navigation. Luckily, here are some simple steps to keep you on the right path.

First, decide if you want to share your space again with a roommate. This time you’ll be able to pick your own roommate from the pool of friends you’ve met through all the terrific organizations you joined your first year. You’ve joined organizations right? If not, you should. They keep you busy and it’s a great networking opportunity for future roommates. Don’t be so worried with the concept of having to share your space again with another person. There are privacy walls in the majority of apartments.

Personally, I went for the roommate. It saved me money and increased the value of life. It might have been growing up in a family of seven, but I appreciated the opportunity to come home to a person that I can talk with. Plus they can help you clean the shared common space. Side note, ensure that they are match your standards of living. If you like a clean and organized space, evaluate their dorm room to see if their side of the 229 square foot room is clean.

Second, know your budget and stick to it. If you’re like me and had to work over the summer to save for room and board during the school year, money typically is strictly budgeted. So with your budget in mind, communicate that with your realtor and potential roommate. Do not let them convince you that it’s only $50 or $100 over your budget. Over twelve months, that can add up and the last thing you want to do is have to run out of your budget. No need for additional stress during college.

Third, don’t be afraid of moving past walking distance to campus. Many larger campuses have bus systems or city transportation that is usually free with your student I.D. So branch out. You might find a bigger and nicer apartment further from campus for less money. If the city transportation isn’t useful for you, look into personal transportation. There are campus parking lots that you can buy a pass for the year. If it’s in your budget, look into it. If it’s not, bicycle to campus or buy a moped or motorcycle. These gems can usually be parked for free and insurance and gas are usually cheaper than cars. Although, watch out on rainy days. You might want to find another alternative to school if that’s the case.

Fourth, read the whole renters contract! In fact, start reading everything that you have to sign if you don’t already. If you don’t read it, then you have no clue what you’re signing away. Plus, there’s nothing worse than being fined for an offense that you missed in the renter’s contract.

Finally, start a Pintrest wall for potential décor ideas. If it’s in the common areas, be sure to think of your roommate’s tastes if you have one. And breathe. You have your own space again to enjoy.

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