Experiencing life in a dorm is a vital part of the college experience, but as the years go by, you may start to desire quieter, more private, off-campus living quarters. And if you don't want to live with a roommate, finding an apartment rental that you can actually afford may seem more difficult than the Advanced Statistics course you took last semester. But it's certainly not impossible.
Here are a few tips and tricks for saving money on your very own off-campus humble abode:
Embrace Your Studious Side
Instead of searching for a full 1-bedroom apartment, consider a studio unit, where your living area, bedroom, and kitchen are confined to a single room. Not only are rent prices generally lower for studios, but they are also cheaper to heat and cool, less expensive to furnish and decorate, and a breeze to keep clean. Sure, you won't have as much room to spread out, but think of all the instant noodle money you'll save!
Consider the Long Term
Landlords may be willing to shave a few bucks off your rent if they believe you are an ideal renter. With (most likely) minimal income and little in the way of a renting history, though, how do you make yourself attractive to a landlord? For one, offer to sign a multi-year lease instead of the standard 1-year deal. Knowing that he won't have to go through the hassle of finding a new tenant a year from now, he may be willing to cut a deal.
Another benefit of signing a multi-year lease is that rental prices are increasing each year across the country. Sign a multi-year deal, and you won't have to worry about your rent skyrocketing after year one.
Don't Get Bitten by the Vampire
Living in a studio, your utility costs will naturally be low. But there are some additional energy-related measures you can take to save even more cash:
- Set your furnace or A/C at a level where it won't kick on while you are away; your modest-sized dwellings will heat up or cool down very quickly when you return, anyway.
- Whenever possible, utilize natural light. Open curtains to let the sun brighten your room instead of using light switches, which slowly hike up your electric bill.
- Most importantly, don't get bitten by vampire energy, the energy that is used by devices that are simply plugged into your walls, which Americans waste more than $3 billion on each year. Before leaving, unplug your electronic devices individually, or connect them to a single power strip and switch it on and off as needed. Your already minimal energy bill will shrink even more.
Embrace these three simple tricks for affording your very own collegiate apartment, and you may even have a few bucks left over to do laundry and restock your Ramen supply.