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Visit Jumpoffcampus.com for off-campus housing listings.

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Where should I live?

It is important to think about location when living off-campus. Do you want to be near campus? Will transportation be a problem? You should choose a neighborhood that can best accommodate your needs and lifestyle. Here are some questions to ask yourself when looking into off-campus housing.

  • Are stores located conveniently to your home?
  • How many bedrooms are there?
  • What is the cost of the rent per person?
  • What type of heat does it use? (oil, gas, electric)
  • Where is the apartment/house located? How safe is the neighborhood?
  • What appliances/amenities are included?
  • Is there adequate parking?
  • Who do you call in case of an emergency?
  • What is the length of the lease? Are there fees involved?

Possible Expenses in Addition to Monthly Rent

  • Utilities
    • Gas: cooking gas, heat, hot water
    • Electricity
    • Oil-to heat the house. Price fluctuates daily. Currently it is about $2.50/gallon
    • Cable. Basic Cable is about $35.
    • Internet. DSL is about $30. Cable modem is about $45.
    • Phone. Landline or cell? If cell, will you get reception?

Questions to Ask

  • Who am I going to live with?
  • Where is the closest grocery store?
  • How long is the lease? Can I sublet my room?
  • Laundry. Where will I do my laundry? If it is on the apartment premises, is it coin-operated? If not, where is the closest laundromat?
  • Snow removal. Who is responsible for the steps, etc. and parking area? Will you have to buy a shovel?

Things to Consider

  • A landlord can require first month's rent, last month's rent, and a security deposit (not more than one month's rent). This means if your portion of rent is $500, you will need to come up with $1500. If you go through a real estate agent you may have to pay a fee equal to half of one month's rent. Make sure to get receipts.
  • If a security deposit is taken, make sure you fill out an Apartment Condition form and return it to your landlord within 15 days. It is like the Room Condition Report (RCR) you fill out at Brandeis.
  • A lease is a contract and a binding agreement. If you sign for a year you are expected to pay rent for a year. If you aren't planning on staying for the entire time you should find out from the landlord if you can sublet your room. If you do so without permission, you will be held responsible for any damage that person may cause.
  • A parent or guardian may have to co-sign your lease as well because of your income limitations. They may also have to go through a credit check and show proof of income.
  • Keep all paperwork (leases, receipts) in a safe place.
  • If your apartment isn't furnished you will need to buy/obtain furniture: bed, desk, lamp, chair, dresser, kitchen items.
  • You will have to share common areas like the kitchen, bathroom, and living room and everyone is responsible for its upkeep. Will you have to make a cleaning schedule? Will you share groceries or have your own food cabinet?
  • Some landlords charge a fee for use of an air conditioner. Make sure it is stated in the lease.
  • Roommate conflicts will have to be handled on your own.

Other

  • Don't feel pressured into taking the first thing you see. If you are able to, look at a few apartments to make comparisons.
  • If you think the rent is too high, you can always negotiate on a price.
  • Try to get feedback about the apartment and landlord from the present tenants.
  • When visiting the apartment, turn on the lights and faucets, flush the toilet. Also ask about water pressure and heat.
  • Living off-campus can be exciting!