Think about your needs and wants. Ask yourself the following questions about each place that you consider:
Do you know anything about the area? Make sure to get a good sense of the neighborhood by visiting at various times of the day and night—your safety should not be compromised for low rent.
Will you have a car? If so, will parking be a problem? If you won't have a car, is there public transportation available nearby? How long will your commute to campus be?
Do you have any? Are they allowed?
Whatever is important to you. Are items such as garbage removal included in the rent? Is cable TV available? Are roommates allowed?
Can you afford it? Are utilities included? If not, how much has it cost to heat the unit in the past? Consider the cost of gas, electricity, and water. What about the security deposit, and what are the conditions for getting it refunded upon move-out? Do you need to provide credit history information? Do you know how good your credit is? Do you know how to provide required information without jeopardizing your finances? (Don't give out your social security number, birth date, mother's maiden name, and checking account number all at once!)
Make sure to check all listings available, including fliers posted on the bulletin boards across from the mailboxes on campus, and the listings in the local newspaper. Here are some other useful resources to check out:
Once you have found a place that suits you, it's time to look at the rental agreement/lease. Consider the following:
Remember that both you and your landlord have rights and responsibilities. Staying informed will help protect you. Here are some great resources for rental law:
Are you searching for a place to share with someone? Roommate contracts can be invaluable. They help spell out how rent and utilities will be split, cleaning arrangements, and noise and visitor agreements. These items may seem trivial ahead of time, but they are especially important for students who are busy.
Here are some other things to think about in selecting a roommate: