Apartment interior with "Off-Campus Housing 101" text

By Aman Kaur, Financial Wellness Peer Advisor

Living on your own for the first time and budgeting your money can be very tricky. If you are moving off-campus and renting an apartment or a house you should be mindful of rent issues, lease agreements, expenses, and housemates. Here are some tips for living off-campus:

Understanding your Lease

Behind the fine print and signatures, you should pay close attention to the sections that mention monthly rent, grace period, maintenance, and security deposit. Pay your rent on time and discuss with your housemates how the rent should be split. The grace period is the period that you have before late fees are applied to any unpaid rent due. The grace period allows renters some extra time to gather money. When an appliance or a lighting fixture is not working, cooperate with maintenance staff, and figure out the best options to fix the problem as soon as possible. A security deposit is given back to you by your landlord at the end of your leasing term if you finish the lease with no harm to the apartment or house. Understanding your lease is a very important aspect of living off-campus and being a responsible adult.

Living with Housemates

Sharing an apartment with housemates means sharing equal responsibility around the household. It is essential to discuss rules, expectations, and boundaries throughout the year. Some of the topics to discuss are bills, chores, cleanliness, and personal space. Shared expenses should be split evenly and bills should always be paid on-time. Balancing chores and school can be difficult, but keeping a chore calendar can help you keep tidy around your common and personal space. Always respect your housemates and their personal space; if they are up studying late for an exam you should be quiet and courteous. Live with your housemates in harmony!

Calculating Expenses

Fixed expenses are expenses that do not change in amount and are expected on a routine basis. Examples of fixed expenses are rent, internet, cable, electricity, water, pet, and parking fees! These are all living expenses that you should expect every month and budget according to your monthly income. Responsibility for living expenses is usually shared and divided by housemates. After budgeting for fixed costs now we can move on to flexible expenses. Flexible expenses are those that have a variable of either often how you buy or how much you spend. Some examples of flexible expenses are clothing, entertainment, or personal items. It is important to budget to ensure your expenses do not exceed your income!