Apartment Hunting and Finding Independence in Your First Space

Once you've decided it's time to live on your own, it's important for you to know what look out for when searching for your first apartment.
December 22, 2017
8 mins read

One of the most appealing perks of college is the freedom of having your own place, being away from everyone and relying on only yourself. Having an apartment not only frees you from many of your worries but from school as well; it lets you live a life that isn’t fully consumed by school, it lets you breathe and be on your own.

To truly be able to enjoy your freedom, though, you must be sure of your place, you must be able to trust that you know what you are doing, you have to understand what you are agreeing to when you decide to get your apartment. There are many people out in the real world who would not hesitate to take advantage of young people looking for somewhere to live, and it can all go wrong if you’re not careful. Enjoying your own place and freedom can quickly turn into completely stressing on your own if you agree to a wrong deal or don’t pay attention to the contract you signed.

A good or decent apartment is key, and most times it isn’t nearly as easy to secure one as many believe it to be. The process is more complicated than many assume it is. When looking for an apartment it is important to know what you need first and getting the basics out of the way, like knowing you need your own room, a kitchen and a bathroom, will make it easier to focus on the rest without fuss. Sorting out how many roommates you are going to want or if you want any at all is something that has to be figured out early on so that you’ll be able to move on with the process.

These are the basics though; the things that people know they will have to focus on but they’re definitely not the only things you should be worried about, especially if you are a young college student finding their first apartment. As a college student, many people in the business will try to reach out to you and you will become a prime target for people to try to sell to because of the naivety they think you possess. Prove them wrong by doing the research needed when looking for apartments.

This includes research on yourself as well. Know your budget and your limits, look into places convenient enough that fall under your budget, but make sure that you don’t get into a situation where you are overpaying for a place that is clearly not worth its price. The best way to do this is to, of course, look into their website and read their reviews, but also to look up places that can compete with them to see the difference between apartments and to really see what maybe they don’t want you to see.

Another way is to take a tour of the apartment. Be careful and cautious when doing this and never go alone if you can help it. This isn’t to say be paranoid of everyone and everything, but having someone go with you and share their second opinion of the place can with you can be extremely helpful—especially if that person isn’t going to be living with you and they are giving you their most honest opinion.

Apartments best suited for students are probably the safest option to go with when looking for your first apartment off campus. They are apartments specifically targeted for students, most likely near campus and filled to the brim with students as well. They will likely have a safer atmosphere to them and still have that freedom you are looking for while having a set representative you can continuously keep in contact with.

Apartments like these can go either way when it comes to making a deal and signing the contract. Some of them will try to take advantage of the fact that you are a student and try to make you pay as much as you possibly can because it may seem that you don’t know better (and if you don’t research you might not). Others will be fairer because they understand that you are a student and they have a system for students.

Some apartments that are student-oriented and are near campus actually have a deal with said campus and if you look into it and ask your school for help, they might have a deal for you just for being part of the campus. These aren’t too common but it’s always worth looking into especially if it helps you save.

Having an apartment to yourself and your friends can be incredibly exciting and end up being one of the best experiences of your life, but it could also end up being one of the worst if you end up in the bad end of a deal. Having to deal with an apartment that has utilities and appliances that constantly break, where maintenance begins to sound as real as a fairytale, or with rowdy neighbors that you can do nothing about can completely ruin your experience of living on your own and your college journey.

Being prepared and really considering the opportunities that are available to you will be extremely helpful. Being cautious with realtors and prices and spaces comes with the territory.

It can be incredibly easy to fall for deals that sound convenient or fall into contracts that sound great until you look twice. People will definitely try to take advantage of your situation, but there are ways, besides the obvious be careful around these people.

Be smart, be researched, know the benefits that come with being a student and find a place that you know you can afford and can handle. Most importantly, learn to be on your own throughout the process of finding your own place and then enjoy that independence as much as you can.

Valeria Garcia, University of Texas at Austin

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Valeria Garcia

University of Texas at Austin
English Major, Creative Writing Minor

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