5 Important Tips For Living Off-Campus

If you’re making the move from your small dorm to an off-campus house or apartment for the upcoming semester, we have the top tips for your new college living situation.

No longer living on campus means more responsibility but also much more freedom. You don’t have to sleep in a twin bed or share a room and have way more space. Being an upperclassman definitely has more perks.

With all the new freedom of off-campus living, it can be difficult in finding the right place, having new expenses to pay or no longer living off a meal plan. Before you head off to college for the upcoming semester, here are a few tips to remember when moving into your off-campus housing.

Get renters insurance

Renters insurance

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Buying renters insurance will save you lots of money in the long run. In case of theft, you want to make sure all your valuables are covered by insurance. This is definitely the most essential off-campus must have you should look into as soon as possible.

Tip: Ask your parents to see if they already pay a renters insurance or if it’s covered under their plan.


Make a budget each month

Financial planning

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Unfortunately, off-campus living is not included in your tuition like living on campus was. This means some unfamiliar costs such as rent, utilities, weekly grocery bills, and purchasing furniture items are all now your responsibility to pay. It can add up so it is critical to give yourself a budget each month.

Plan a time every month to organize your finances and budget properly. Making a spreadsheet that lists your typical expenses is a good place to start. Remember, if you have roommates be sure to discuss ahead of time how you will handle the utility bills each month. Always keep track of the utility costs in a shared document with your roommates and pay them on time!

Tip: Assign each roommate a utility bill (gas, electric, water, cable) to be in charge of for the duration of your lease. At the end of the billing cycle, each person can Venmo one another the amount you owe to each other for that specific utility.


Grocery shop smart

Grocery shopping with list

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Now that your days with the mini-fridge have come to an end, you will have way more room for groceries of your liking. You will also need to start buying items like toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap, dish soap, sponge, etc. All of these items can be used quickly especially if you’re living with multiple people. Plan accordingly and shop smart. It’s a good idea to buy items like these in bulk and rotate which roommate buys them every time you need them.

Pick a specific day of the week to go food shopping to help save money. Also, be sure to make a list beforehand so you stick to only items you need. This will keep you organized and efficient so you are not wasting money on items that are not necessary.

Tip: If your state has a bag fee for plastic bags, purchase reusable bags to bring on every grocery store trip. This way you will avoid the plastic bag fee that can add up.


Meal prep and reconsider a meal plan

Meal prep containers

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To help subdue the costs of grocery shopping, meal prepping is a great idea when living off-campus. Plan ahead by checking out recipes you may want to make for the week whether it be for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Only purchase those ingredients when you are at the supermarket. At the beginning of the week, block off time to make the meals you won’t have time to cook when your schedule is hectic during the weekdays.

It is not completely necessary to purchase a meal plan for on-campus, as it can be a huge expense especially if you are food shopping often.

If you think you will need a meal plan for long days on campus, explore smaller options that won’t cost a lot. For example, if your University lets you add general money you can use at dining halls, that is a good alternative compared to purchasing a large meal plan.

Tip: Buying durable containers like these will help kickstart your meal prepping!


Make a shared document of items each roommate is bringing

Kitchen supplies

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The last thing you want is too much stuff or double amounts of certain household items. Communicate with your roommates before move-in day to see who is bringing what. It is smart to create a shared document and have everyone write down items that they already have.

Once you have your list of items that your roommates are bringing, take a fun group shopping trip together to purchase any products you might still need!

Check out this list of important college items you may need before moving into your apartment or house.

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