How to Search for Off-Campus Housing

Image by Terrah Holly,

Image by Terrah Holly,

Finding the right off-campus housing is an additional challenge to the transition period of a freshman in college. To help ensure you make the right decision, here are some guidelines to make the search easier:

Start early
Although more rentals become available within the university area in June and September, keep in mind that more people will also be searching for housing at this time. You may begin your search about 4 to 6 weeks prior to your move-in date. The earlier you start your search for a place, the higher your chances of finding one that meets your needs. It helps to contact the residential services department of your university so they can provide information on off-campus housing – most departments have a database of room providers to help you find a suitable place to stay.

Ask for details
When you find a place you like, take the time to ask important questions to the landlord first. You should settle and clarify the rental rate, what it covers, the deposit, and utility fees. Before you sign anything make sure you understand what you’re signing. You can also consult an expert to evaluate the lease or contract of the unit. Inquire if you can sublet the unit for the summer, if you take a leave, or what happens if you leave early to study abroad.

Inspect the unit
Set an appointment with the landlord for a day to visit the unit. You might want to bring a tenant’s resume along for an easier transaction. Personally visiting the unit will help you assess its safety and accessibility. Check if the unit has been properly inspected by asking to see a copy of the certificate of occupancy.

Find a roommate
A roommate will help curb your rental expenses, but keep in mind it will affect your happiness in your living environment. You’re lucky if you already have people who’ll move in with you whom you trust and get along with. But if you are still searching for roommates, social media is a great way to connect with potential roommates. You can also check out, whose security features and matchmaking system make them one of the safest, most reliable ways to help you connect with room providers that match your lifestyle.

Keep in mind that maintaining open communication with your roommate is important. This will help set rules on chores, payments, visits, and even the borrowing of things; you can also address other concerns regarding your set-up freely. Lack of open communication could lead to resentment, which might destroy relationships and affect your living conditions.

Below is a list of reliable websites where you can search for safe off-campus housing. You can also read the comments and testimonials on each site to help with your decision. Some of these websites will even assist you in looking for a roommate within your area.

This article was contributed by guest author Smith Tanny, a founder at

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