Student Life

Searching for Your Student’s First Apartment: How to Find a Home Almost as Good as Your Own

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By: Elizabeth Hilfrank, Uloop

As your student enters his later years at college, the time will come when he may want to move off campus, or he may need to live somewhere new for a co-op or internship. This change is significant, and it may be hard for you to accept, as the student no longer lives under the comfortable blanket of the university’s room options.

So, if this sounds like you, here are some tips as to how to make sure both you and your student will be comfortable in the new home.

Location

First and foremost look into the location of the apartment. This and price are the two most important aspects to consider whenever one moves. If your student’s new location is too far for you to visit, then Padmapper.com offers a way for you to see the surrounding area of the apartment online. Google Maps also provides roadside and satellite views.

When your student thinks he has found the right place, look online for the local police station and see what recent reports have been posted. Taking a look at the crime will give you a strong indication of what exactly goes on in the area. If you can manage a visit to the physical location, talk with other residents to hear unbiased stories in the area. You can also speak with the rental property manager on the subject.

But besides safety, when choosing the location, make sure it is an area that your student will still be able to work in. That is, does it seem to be an area with a lot of noise or distraction? How close do you really want him to be to the beach? Check to see if your student will be able to remain a student in this area.

Relatedly, it is also important to check the distance of the apartment from campus and how easy it will be for him to get to and from.

Price

Most likely, you will be a cosigner on the lease for the apartment. For this reason, you will want to make sure that whoever is paying for the apartment (you or your student) can afford all of the costs that come with an apartment. That is, more than just this physical room.

When your student starts the search, he may forget about the amenity fees. So, look into the cost of water, electricity, and, nowadays, Wi-Fi, before signing on the dotted line. Check to see the landlord’s policy on security deposits and rental insurance as well. If your student is going to have to drive to class each day, see what the parking policies are. Is that an additional fee as well? Is there garage parking, an outdoor lot, or just the street? Is plowing included in the overall cost?

Cleanliness

If possible, try to get in to see the apartment so that you can assess the physical state of the place because you may have a better ability at evaluating this factor than your student. If you cannot go, make sure your student checks all the cabinets for signs of any unwelcome animal friends. Encourage him to peek behind furniture, lift the curtains, and run the water and flush the toilet before committing to the new place.

Networks

The best way to guarantee that your student finds the best apartment possible is to use personal resources. Oftentimes colleges will have lists of apartments and houses that have been used in the past by students. This is a nice resource because it means that the landlord already has a relationship with the college and understands that he is renting to a student. Your student may also be able to reach out to various alumni networks of the college, such as from clubs or sports he is involved in, in order to see if they have any connections to the area.

Roommates

If your student does not know of someone he can live with, there are plenty of other ways to find roommates. One way is through Craigslist. While possibly daunting at first, there has been much success with this tactic. A general rule of thumb is that if the person agrees to video chat with your student, then safety should be less of a concern.

If the communication is rocky, and he will not video chat, then think twice. Other ways to find roommates is again through networks. Chances are, if you and your student talk to other people, one of you will find someone who is also looking for a roommate. Many cities also have Facebook groups to serve just this purpose.

While you may be a nervous wreck about your student living away from you, and now in a foreign place, try to embrace his excitement on the subject. It is important for you to be there through the process but equally as important that you don’t take over the process.

It is a learning experience, so be there more as a guide. Give suggestions to your student as he looks around, and, if you are not with him, at least ask for the address. That way you can see what exactly is going on, especially if you are helping with the bills.

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