…Economical to Extravagant, Apartments Galore
It happens before you know it. Literally. In about October of your student’s freshman year, he/she most likely will tell you that he/she wants to move off campus the next year and that he/she has to sign a lease in the next few weeks. This is not a joke. I know you have just about adjusted to having them leave and getting them settled in the dorm, but the good ones go fast and sign-ups really do work this way. Kids will start lining up outside the rental office of the apartment complex of their choice, in the middle of the night, in some cases. (My husband equates this to having lined up to buy Grateful Dead tickets many moons ago.)
There are many apartment complexes that cater to students; some within walking distance of campus. My first daughter lived with three other girls who were on a strict budget with what they could afford monthly and so they chose a complex a few miles from campus. While I was happy with the price in comparison to the closer apartments, what we paid for in gas and parking tickets based on getting to campus and rarely being able to find a suitable parking spot, may have negated the price difference. Therefore when my son began the search for an off-campus apartment, I encouraged he be walking distance to campus. The moral of the story is the less extravagant and expensive apartments are further from campus. While we don’t want to deprive our children of some of these amenities, this very well may be a better option. Be sure they are on a bus route if this will be their main mode of transportation.
To Each Their Own
Beyond the price shocker, I was also surprised when my daughter showed me pictures and the layout of the apartment. I was being silly apparently, having lived in an off-campus house with four other girls and sharing one bathroom and thinking we had it pretty nice; I assumed there would be two girls in each room. She laughed. Not only do they each get their own room and bathroom, but the leases are divided that way. There is a lease per occupant, not per apartment. And yes, you will most likely have to co-sign via email/fax/scan.
Then there was the moment we entered our son’s new apartment – also one student per room and bathroom – to find brand new stainless-steel appliances and a washer/dryer, granite counter tops, a faux-leather couch and chair, a TV and locks on every bedroom door. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the beautiful view of the pool and Doak Stadium, the study rooms, luxurious common areas and the fabulous fitness center in the building. I won’t mention which of the many complexes either of them lived in because they really all offer just about the same amazing amenities. College living has definitely changed from my perspective.
How much do these places cost? Well, generally they range from $675 – $900 a month for 12 months (Check sublet policies for summers. Many students leave for summer A/B and may want to sublet to a third party). Be sure to check if parking is extra and how many spots each apartment gets. If your student is planning on having a pet, he/she should check the rules on that too. Yes, my son and his roommates adopted a puppy this year; that, for the record, as cute as she is, is going home with one of the other boys after graduation.
Some apartments come furnished, but some do not. If not, seniors often sell off their furniture upon graduation. The problem is storing it all summer until the lease begins which is usually mid-August. This storage thing may also come into play if he/she should decide to change apartments the next year as this can lead to a gap in the leases. Finding a storage unit for short term is difficult, not impossible, but if you can avoid it, that is best. Remind your student to inspect everything upon moving in and take pictures of any damage so they are not fined for it later.
Find out about renters insurance. Your homeowner’s insurance policy may not cover them while they are living off campus (many will cover if they are living in an on-campus residence at no extra cost). Check the terms of your home insurance policy. Most of the large insurance companies offer separate renters policies at a reasonable rate. You may also want to look at two of the more reputable college student insurance companies, college student insurance, and NSSI.
Finally, be aware that utilities are generally not included so one of the roommates will have to put the utilities in his/her name and collect money for bill monthly or they can pay on their own, which can be more costly. Ask the leasing office which options they offer.
There are a few websites to get ideas and reviews of the various options. I tried looking into a few, but my kids already knew where they were interested in before I read much. Check out our blog on students’ favorite apartment rentals here. FSU also has a website to help you navigate this as well.
There is also a new app called MyRentHero where you can search for properties, fill out and submit applications for landlords, digitally sign your lease and manage your lease.
There is also the option of sorority or fraternity living if your son/daughter is a member of one. I am a big proponent of sorority house living as it is drastically more affordable, comes with a house mother, meal plan, doesn’t allow boys in their rooms (old-fashioned, I know) and comes with a bunch of sisters there at all times. Fraternity houses, well let’s just say I can’t get the image of Animal House out of my mind. Sometimes, for either, if your student holds a board position, living in the house may be a requirement.