College student's apartment

Many students stay in the dorms for the first college year, but after that, most like to get an apartment that will probably be their first. Moving out of mom and dad’s house is a big step, and dorm rooms provide a nice bridge to finally cutting the cord.

It is important, however, to carefully consider the five tips below in order to make your transition as smooth as possible.

Location & Price

Think carefully about where you want to live in relation to your college’s physical location, because it may not always necessary or even preferable to live right on campus. Remember when you signed up for all of those 8:00 a.m. classes because you thought you were used to getting up that early during high school?

A few nights of staying up until 3:00 a.m. quickly taught you that getting up at 7:00 a.m. maybe wasn’t the best idea, and you adjusted your schedule for the next semester. Conversely, living right on campus and putting up with a lot of commotion and noise at all hours may not be conducive to studying, so you could consider moving to a location a little further out. Maybe take a step back from your first inclination to be right on top of everything.

On top of location, don’t forget to think about how much it’s going to cost you to live in your apartment. You can use local rent reports like this one in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to make sure you and your future roommates understand what a good price for a place in your area actually is.

Vet Your Roommates

In a dorm situation, everyone has to sign the university housing contract, and you don’t have to worry about covering your roommates’ expenses if one or more of them quits school in the middle of the semester.

The opposite can be true if you rent from a private landlord, and if one of your housemates decides to clear out in the middle of the term, you and the remaining tenants could be forced to cover the expenses previously paid by the person that left. Therefore, know who you are moving in with, and have frank discussions about all of the what-ifs before you decide to live together.

Check Out the Landlord

Many university housing landlords have businesses that are set up for screening and renting to students. They know your likes, dislikes and preferences. They probably know that you’ll have parties with loud music. They also know that you present your own set of challenges, and they are ready to deal with that.

A landlord that has never rented to students before may think that you are going to act the same as a 65-year-old couple, and when they find out that’s not entirely true, conflicts can arise. We advise you to make sure that your landlord understands your lifestyle.


If you do live some distance from campus, try to ensure that you’ll have adequate transportation. At a bigger campus, you’ll have no difficulty as ridesharing, bike rental and scooter availability are everywhere. Big campuses also have great bus systems but if you are going to a small school and pick a place a few miles from campus, make sure there are transportation alternatives available.

Grocery Options

Shopping at corner stores can be fun, but it’s usually expensive, so be aware of where your town’s biggest food store is and take that into consideration before you sign a lease. A two-mile scooter ride in 40-degree weather with three grocery bags in tow may not be a lot of fun.

Moving on up can be a great thing but pay attention to the five tips above to make your first apartment move a pleasant one.