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How to Live Off-Campus as an International Student

Posted on December 30th, 2016 by Yessica Prato

The rooms in the university residence halls may often make you feel crammed. After all, sharing a bathroom with twenty other people is not an easy task. If you want your own space, it may be time to start looking for a place outside of the dorms. Easy, right? Well, it’s not easy by any means, but it is doable!

You’ll have to be prepared to make certain decisions and take on responsibilities like setting up your own cable or internet, doing your laundry off site, and maybe even learning how to cook. Here are some tips on how to start your search for your own place:

Find a Roommate
Unless you can afford a place on your own (utilities, food, and rent included), you may want to recruit some of your friends to live off campus with you. Living off campus is a great time to learn responsibility and grow into adulthood, and what better way to do it than with your friends. Usually, the more roommates you have, the lower the cost for a bigger house will be. Additionally, everyone might be able to have their own room and, maybe their own bathroom.

Start Your Search Early
The twenty people that you shared your bathroom with will also be thinking about finding their own place with friends, so start your search early! Landlords will typically know what units are available around February or March of every year and leases can usually start as early as May. A good place to start your search is the internet, companies like CORT can help you find an apartment near campus. Your school might also promote certain landlords or apartment complexes nearby to help upperclassmen move out.

House vs. Apartment
With a great home comes great responsibility. When you live on campus, you don’t think about all of the factors that play into that payment you make to the school under “Room and Board.” The school organizes your meals, utilities, furniture, and pays your rent. A big decision you’ll have to make is if you’ll live in a house or an apartment. Some of the questions you may want to ask yourself when deciding are:

  1. How much responsibility do you want? – Houses can be expensive since they take more energy to cool down and warm up. If you are in a northern state, you will probably have to shovel snow. In a house, utilities usually include water, electricity, gas, and sewage. An apartment will be cheaper since most apartments include water and sewage in your rent and all you pay is electricity. In either case, don’t forget to set up your internet too.
  2. Do I have enough friends to fill in a house? – Remember that some landlords will only rent out a house under one lease. If one of your roommates backs out, you must fill in that spot or split that cost with everyone else.
  3. How far from campus do you want to be? – You will notice that around campus, housing is more expensive and it is mainly apartment complexes. Decide how far are you willing to bike or drive to campus. Be mindful of the weather patterns where you are, biking in the cold is never fun.
  4. Do you want a lot of space? – Houses can be roomy and give you the luxury of your own yard. In an apartment, you must be mindful of your neighbors since all that is between you is a wall. Also, a house will need more maintenance, whether that’s mowing the lawn or cleaning the gutters. In an apartment, usually the landlord or leasing office will take care of the exterior of the building for you.

Living off campus can be a rewarding experience from studying abroad. Hopefully these tips will guide you better toward your new home.

Written by Yessica Prato

Yessica joined the team in 2016. Originally from Colombia, she migrated to the United States in 2005 with her family. While living in Kansas, she attended Kansas State University. Her interest in education and international studies along with her experience in bilingual customer service led her to EIC. She has also had the opportunity to travel to Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia. When not in the office, you'll find her immersed in a good book or with her dogs at the beach.

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