Cooking for yourself. Doing your own laundry. Buying your own toilet paper. There are many rites of passage when you go to college. One of them is living off-campus. If you’ve been thinking about finding off-campus housing near UNC Charlotte, there’s a lot to consider first. Ask yourself these questions before moving out of the dorms.
Can I afford it?
Cost is probably going to be one of the biggest factors in choosing an apartment complex. The best way to get a sense of what you can spend on rent is by creating a budget. Start by looking at your paychecks and determining how much money you bring in each month (add anything your parents are willing to contribute and whatever you receive in financial aid). Then check your bank account to see how much money you spend every month. Any extra cash can go towards rent, but make sure you also budget for utilities, groceries, and transportation.
What’s my favorite neighborhood?
Once you’ve figured out how much you can spend on rent, start snooping around your favorite neighborhoods. You might be able to find an apartment complex in your chosen area just by asking around. When you choose a neighborhood, you should also consider safety. Check out UNC’s tips for staying safe on- and off-campus, and remember to have a plan in place in the event of an emergency.
What are my must-have amenities?
Many buildings boast a gym or a pool right downstairs. If these are things you can’t live without, then only look at buildings that have them. Need a place for your dog to run around? Only sign a lease at an apartment with a pet park. Have your heart set on a lounge where you can hang out with friends? Keep an eye out for a building that has a clubhouse facility.
When should I start looking?
The simple answer: the earlier the better. Buildings near campus tend to fill up months in advance, so make sure you get a jump on apartment hunting. Sign a lease no later than the semester before you want to move in—that means you should be homing in on a place for the fall by January or February.
How will I get to class?
If you don’t have a car or an on-campus parking permit, then it’s important to figure out how you’re going to get to campus. UNC Charlotte operates a shuttle around campus, but from off-campus apartments you can use the Charlotte Area Transport System (CATS) to get to class or around town.
Who should I live with?
When you move off-campus, you won’t have to deal with your annoying roommate anymore—unless you choose your new living companions unwisely. Living with friends doesn’t always work if you don’t agree on basic things, like how often you should clean the bathroom or whether or not groceries are community property. Make sure that you and your future roommates have candid conversations about stuff like this. Also make sure they sleep, work, and go to class on a schedule at least relatively similar to your own.