The Ultimate Guide to Moving Off-Campus

By Brittany Hawes on January 20, 2018

Congratulations! You’re finally moving off-campus and out of the dorms! After spending a year or two in a cramped dorm room, it’s time to break away from the days of having to share the limited amount of space you have with three other people. No more cramming all of your bathroom belongings into a single carry bag every morning before class and no more being forced to wait to get into the bathroom because your roommate simply cannot take less than an hour in there.

That’s right; no more fighting over who gets to be in the room with their boyfriend or girlfriend or who gets to play video games or play their music at certain times of the day! It’s time for you to get your own room and your own bathroom and have your very own space next semester. Go ahead and let it all sink in because, as unreal as it may seem, you are finally stepping into the great, wide world known as moving off-campus.

moving off-campus

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You might be a little nervous about moving and that’s okay! It’s always scary starting over new. Just think about how nervous you were when you first moved into the dorms. Just like you faced the challenges of living in a dorm, you’ll have to take on a few new challenges when you move away from campus. Moving off-campus means that you’re going to have to start taking care of your own bills, which might be a first for many college students.

You’ll also be away from a lot of the people that you’ve gotten to know while living in the dorms. You might feel a little lonely, especially if you end up rooming with people that you don’t know or moving into an apartment with people who were roommates before you signed the lease. The dining hall won’t be right next door and you’ll have to start doing some serious grocery shopping and budgeting your money. You’ll be in a place where not everyone around you is going to be a student.

Although these things might seem intimidating, you’ll soon find out that there are ways to get past them all and even have a better time living off-campus than in the dorms.

With all of that being said, where exactly does one start after making the initial decision to move off-campus? Like all big life changes, moving off-campus is going to involve a lot of planning as your first step.

moving off-campus infographic


Finding a Place

After you’ve decided you’re going to be staying off-campus next semester, the next big decision is where are you going to be living at? Remember, the only place you need to stay at is the one that is going to meet your necessary needs to live comfortably and feel safe. This is going to call for some research. Don’t just settle down at your computer, find a place that looks nice and think, “well, that will do.” This place is going to be your new home for the next six months or so, depending on how long the lease is.

That’s one of the things you should be looking at when you decide to move off-campus. Just how long is the lease going to be and how long will you need it to be? If you want to go back to your hometown for the summer, it might be beneficial for you to look at renting a place that has a six-month-long lease instead of a 12-month-long one. If you do plan on staying for the whole 12 months or if you don’t want to risk losing your spot to another interested party after coming back from the summer, it might be better for you to go ahead and sign a 12-month lease and then sublease during the summer months. After you’ve made a decision on the amount of time you’ll be living there, you’ll have helped to narrow down your list of options on where you’re going to live.

One of the most important factors to take into account when you’re moving is the location. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • How far do I want to be from campus?
  • What transportation will I have to take in order to get to school each day?
  • Will alternative transportation be available nearby if I don’t have a car to use?
  • Is the bus an option?
  • Is the location I’m thinking of living in a safe area?

There are some tools you can use to check out how safe your neighborhood really is.

Another thing to look at is your price range. How much can you afford to pay each month for rent? If you’re going to have a job, think about how much you’ll be able to spare from your paycheck that you can put towards rent every month and still have enough left over for groceries, utilities, and hobbies. If your parents are going to be paying for your rent, you’ll need to sit down with them and see how much they’re willing to pay for your rent every month so you’ll know which houses and apartment complexes you need to be looking into and which ones might be a little too expensive.

Alright! You have your price range figured out. Now the next step is to decide what kind of place you want to rent. For college students, some of the most common choices for rental housing are:

  • Student apartment complex
  • Private apartment complex
  • House
  • Duplex

A student apartment complex is an apartment complex that is typically only rented out to students and advertises heavily to the college student population. These complexes usually have free Wi-Fi, access to their pool and gym equipment, and oftentimes will have a bus stop nearby that students can use to get to school. Usually, the units are split into 4 bedrooms with 4 private bathrooms, 2 bedrooms with 2 private bathrooms, a studio, and sometimes 1 bedroom with 1 bathroom. Every unit is different, however, so you should always check and see what the space is like in person.

Student apartment complexes will usually try to get their tenants socially involved with one another by throwing free pizza and pool parties as well as offering fun sports and video game tournaments. If you want to move off-campus but would like to still live in the vicinity of other students, consider doing some research on student apartment complexes.

Rent is usually divided into separate payments for each tenant in the unit and the kitchen facilities are shared.

A private apartment complex is an apartment complex that is available for everyone to rent units from. These are generally harder to research about so you might have to do some driving around town to get a good idea of how many private apartment complexes are near you. These complexes are usually quieter than student apartment complexes but may still offer access to the pool and gym, if available. Private apartment complexes might be further from campus than the student apartment complexes, so if you’re unsure of your transportation, think twice before signing the lease.

Rent for these may also be separate for each tenant, but always check with the individual apartment complex to make sure.

Renting a house will allow you to get more creative with your space and invite as many roommates as you can fit (and as your lease will allow) to live with you. Living in a house gives you a more comfortable, relaxed living condition that might be more familiar to you than what an apartment complex has to offer.

Rent is usually a single payment that will have to be divided by each member of your household. Many times, utilities are managed by the apartment complex owners. In a house, however, you will most likely be in charge of setting up your utilities and will have to make payments directly to your utility company.

A duplex is a single house that is divided into two households. You and your roommates would live in one side of the duplex while another group would live in the other part of the house. Duplexes are treated as two houses, although attached, so you won’t have access to the inside of the other party’s side.

Rent and utilities for a duplex are often the same as renting a house.

Having lived in three of the four types of rental spaces listed above and knowing people who have stayed in the other space, I’d have to say that the type of space you rent is largely up to what you’re looking to experience. I enjoy living in a duplex because it’s comfortable and away from the loud parties that student apartment complexes can be prone to, but my four neighbors are also students, so I still feel close to campus being surrounded by other students.

You should pick a space that has the things you’re looking for. Keep in mind how rent payments and utility payments will have to be made!

moving off-campus roomates

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Now that you know what kind of place you’re looking for it’s time to….

Find Your Roommate(s)

Like it or not, roommates play a vital role in the experience you’re going to have in your new home (unless you decide to live alone when moving off-campus). A bad roommate can sour your rental experience, so that’s why it’s important to get yourself a roommate who is going to be compatible with your style of living.

One option of finding a great roommate is to ask around. Is anyone else in your hall thinking of moving off-campus soon? Do you have a friend in class or in a club who wants to leave the dormitory or is in search of a new roommate to share their apartment with? Chances are, they would be thrilled to share their home with someone they know instead of asking someone they’ve never met before to room with them next semester.

Getting to Your New Place (and Getting it Ready)

Once you have your new place picked out and signed for, it’s all a matter of getting over there and getting it ready.

When moving-in day comes, you can try enlisting the help of family and friends in getting your things over to your new home. If anyone has a car that there are willing to let you borrow, you can pack your things in and carry over your boxes and things in a few trips.

A dorm room is a lot smaller than an apartment or house is and you probably didn’t need as many things with you as you’re going to need in your new place. You’re going to need some new things in your house to make it feel like a home.

Some examples of items that you might need in your new home are:

  • A bed. If your apartment isn’t furnished, your room might not come with a bed for you to sleep in. Before it gets close to moving day, find yourself a bed and put it in storage until it’s time to make the move. To save money, you can find a good bed at a local thrift store or ask friends and relatives if someone has a bed they’re getting rid of.
  • A dresser. Again, if you have an unfurnished space, you’re going to need somewhere to put all of your clothes. If you want to save room, you can always put summer clothes in vacuum-sealed bags under your bed or in your closet during the winter months and winter clothes in bags during summer months. This way, you’ll have unnecessary clothes out of the way when it comes time to change for school in the morning and you’ll be saving a lot of extra space in your dressers and cabinets.
  • Kitchen utensils. I stayed at an apartment that was a little different from what I expect is the norm for most rental spaces. The place I rented had everything I needed to live comfortably, including silverware, plates, cups, mugs, pots, and pans. It also had a toaster, toaster oven, coffee maker, and microwave. I’ve stayed in a place that had none of the things I listed above, so be sure to find out what you’ll need in your new space and make a list so you can get everything.

The things you’ll need to buy or borrow to make your new place feel like your home vary from rental space to rental space. Even if you’re place is furnished, you should take notes on what things are missing that you are going to need to feel comfortable in your new home.

In conclusion…

Once you have your roommate or roommates chosen, your home signed for, and plans to go shopping for the things you’ll need for your home, you’re set to move into your new home next semester. Congrats!

Hi there! My name's Britt and I'm a senior majoring in English major at Florida State University. I have these crazy, big dreams of traveling the entire world and writing novels in my spare time. I love music, food, and the Japanese culture. I plan on teaching English in Japan upon graduation from Florida State. My first YA novel, Twisted, was published by Deep Sea Publishing Company in 2014. It won a Readers' Favorite Book Award that same year. Alongside schoolwork, I'm working hard on the second book in the Twisted series as well as a number of other novels.

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