The Off Campus Checklist: Are You Ready For The Big Move?

By Francine Fluetsch on March 16, 2014

This article is brought to you by CORT, a subsidiary of Berkshire-Hathaway and the world’s largest furniture rental and relocation services company. To learn more about how we can help college students like you, click here.

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Moving off campus? Are you ready? Now that you’ve made the decision, it’s time to get things into gear. Here is a checklist of sorts to consider as you take flight and move away from the nest (not that dorms are very “nesty” but you get what I mean).

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1) Housemates: Noah Kramer, a fourth year theater design student at UC Santa Cruz, said “the most important thing in moving off campus is to know all of your housemates/roommates.”

Who you live with is definitely a big decision, and one you should give a lot of thought. You don’t want to rush into a bad situation, because you won’t have campus staff that can help sort out your problems– that will be all on you. You need to pick people who you can trust, because you are going to be signing a lease and sharing a yearlong commitment. Get to know your potential housemates and figure out living patterns to help ensure you won’t be ripping each other’s heads off anytime soon.

Emily Fleet, a third year film student at UC Santa Cruz, agrees with Kramer on the fact that knowing your housemates is extremely important. If you are going to be sharing a room, try and align yourself with someone who respects your sleeping habits, has similar cleanliness attributions, and so on. A lot of rooms off campus are going to be a pretty tight fit, so you want to make sure that your situation is going to work for you.

Here is an article by Courtney Ronan that will give you some more ideas about what sort of things you should be asking a potential roomie.

2) Rules/chores: Living off campus means that you are taking on more responsibility. Fleet recommends to “go over any rules/chores beforehand because even though it’s kinda awkward, things get way more awkward when disagreements/tensions arise.”

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Some housemates settle for making a chore list and then sticking to it, while others hate that method. You should sit down with the people you are going to live with and discuss how you are going to split up taking out the trash, vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms, how you are dealing with cooking, etc. If you don’t talk about things and let little annoyances build up, someone is going to snap and your whole living situation will become quite awk-city to say the least.

You are going to have to make compromises, which I know will be annoying, but that’s how living with people works (no one said it would be all fun and games). The best way to avoid conflict is to follow step one and get good roommates to begin with, so step two—talking about it—will be a lot easier.

3) Location of your place: Depending on your campus, this point is going to hold different merit, but for a school like UC Santa Cruz where campus is up a huge freaking hill, it is rather important. You want to make sure that the location you choose works for you and your housemates. You want to be close to campus and other necessities as well.

“I would make sure you know how close/far you are to Safeway, the gas station, and the bus stop,” Kramer said.

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Of course you probably won’t be able to be close to everything (unless you’re super lucky), so you’ll have to pick and choose which locations are the most important.

Alisa Kawata, a second year human biology student at UC Santa Cruz, says she absolutely loves living off campus.

“I get to cook my own food, have a lot of space to walk around and relax, I have my car, and my dog, Shaka,” she said.

She said that the only downside to her location is that “the 20 bus only comes once every hour, so if you miss the bus, then you miss class.” If you are going to be busing it to school, that is definitely an important factor to consider.

Kawata also mentions that although you have a lot more freedom off campus, “you don’t get to see your friends as often, especially the ones who live on campus.” On campus activities are going to be more of an effort (like class for example) so you will have to make sure you are committed to going the extra mile to get there (literally).

My roommates and I have living close to campus as a top priority on our list, since only one of us is going to have a car. Speaking of cars …

4) Car situation: Perfect segue from our last point, bringing your car is another important decision to make. Bringing your car sounds awesome, but there is a lot that goes into it that many students don’t consider. Here are a few things for you to think about:

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-How much is a parking permit on campus? (Think, hundreds)

-Do I have to pay to park at my place? (Not all of them have garages)

-Will my roommates and I share a car?

-If yes, how will we deal with gas, insurance, and parking? (Talk this through for sure!)

-Do I really need it?

Having a car can play a big role in your location dilemma, since having wheels means that you can be further away from things and still get around. A car will be a big expense, so make sure that you factor that in. Sharing cars can also get tricky, so tell your roommate from the get-go if sharing is out of the question (a lot of people aren’t going to let you just drive their car).

Here is a pro and con list for having a car, by Alix Marks, that may help with your decision.

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5) Furnishing/decorating your place: Unlike the dorms, when you get your own place, more likely than not, you are going to have to furnish it all by yourself. This is another thing that you are going to have to talk over with your roommates, so you can collaborate and make it fair money wise.

If you live far away or are indecisive about things, you can rent your furniture through a furniture rental company, like Cort Furniture. They will set everything up for you—no labor required on your part—and will take it all back when your lease is up. This is a great way to get some worry off your plate, because hunting for furniture can be a long and annoying process.

My roommate (this year) and I made a Google doc with all the things we would need—like little appliances—so we could easily split them up and make the costs fair. We also picked color schemes for each room that we both agreed upon, and things worked out really nicely!

6) Money: If you play your cards right, you can definitely make living off campus cheaper than living on, but this isn’t going to just fall into your lap. You’re going to have to make a conscious effort to budget your expenses and make it cheaper. Things that you should consider are:

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-Car and all of its expenses (If you are opting to do that)

-Water bill

-Gas/electric bill



-Pets (if you’re rolling like that)

Budgeting money is a part of growing up and is a great skill to learn, so this will help you out in the long run. Here is an article by Opher Ganel that goes over some of the hidden costs of leaving the dorms. You don’t want to get caught off guard.

Good luck with your off campus adventures!

Looking for a more convenient way to furnish your off-campus apartment? Rent stylish furniture from CORT and save time and money. For more information on furniture rental packages, click here.

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