Get ready, stake your claim to independence – or a little less dramatic, lets just find a cool place to live. Here are a few tips to turn that off campus apartment into “My Place”. Universities, students and landlords are getting ready for the next renal season for the summer and fall semesters. In order to get a jump on the best places you need to get started early. Many leases start in May and August so don’t wait till the last minute- oh wait you are in college, waiting till the last minute is part of the gig!?! Anyway, here it goes:

First set of course is to find suitable places in your area. Hopefully you used , but either way, make a list to hit several places within a certain area. If you can not get a hold of a particular landlord but have the time, drive by and look at the outside and surrounding area. If it is not your cup of tea, cross it off your list so you don’t waste time turing an apartment in ann area you don’t like anyway. It’s also nice to call back a landlord to let him or her know that you changed your mind or already found a place so you don’t waste their time either.

Arm yourself; when looking at an apartment bring at least the following:

A camera is ann important tool because you may look at several places before you pick the right one for you. Having pictures to fall back on to compare may make it easier to make a final decision. Start with a pictures of the outside of the building and possibly the street / are. Then do the obvious: living room, kitchen, bathroom(s), bedrooms, view. Next do the amenities: pool, gym, backyard, elevator (you could just make a note of that being there or not), any other amenities that are part of the building or house.

Take notes if (unless you just photographed absolutely everything). Its a good idea, after you met with the landlord and toured the place, to sit down and take 2 minutes to quickly write down pros and cons of the apartment / house, building, neighborhood, amenities, roommates (if you are looking at a place you will be sharing) and any other impressions you may have.

A Friend
If you have a friend or parent that can tour apartments with you, you have a huge advantage. A second pair of eyes is the most obvious advantage as you are entering an unfamiliar environment and can easily miss potential problems or advantages of one place over another. A friend also takes off the pressure of having to make sure you see everything and not miss things. He or she will be able to point out things and be an immediate source of feedback. This is especially true if she has rented her own place before almost always a given if you take a parent.

Security is another factor to consider. Remember you are going into an unknown place with a person you don’t know other than from one phone conversation. Although most landlords or rental agents are decent and upstanding people, you alway need to use caution.

A List of Questions
Prepare yourself with questions you have for the landlord, about the place, neighborhood, etc. More on this coming shortly. Check back here…