Editors note: Every year, The Daily News produces the orientation guide for incoming freshman. This story first appeared in The Cardinal Field Guide printed in May 2017. To read the full issue, click here.

Although Ball State does require its students to live on-campus freshman year, many choose to move off-campus after completing their first year. Living in a house or apartment can have its perks – the main being the ability to save money. However, in order to have the best off-campus living experience, you should follow these tips.

Start soon

Houses and apartments often fill up quickly. Therefore, in order to have a wider selection of living options, it’s best to start looking as soon as you decide you want to move off-campus the following year.

Round up your future roommates and start searching in September and October. By starting early, you will be sure to get a great house or apartment. Plus, many off-campus housing locations offer cheaper rent the earlier you sign a lease. So, signing early may also save you money.

Look online

In the past, students were forced to drive around town, searching for houses and apartments for rent. However, with technological advancements, most available off-campus housing locations can now be viewed online. Websites such as RentCollegePads.comBSUCribs.com and the Roost, Ball State Daily's in-house housing search, allow students to see photos and prices of different homes around Muncie. Many apartment complexes also have their own websites, where they list information about their available spaces. So be sure to check Online before venturing around Muncie for your next home.

Utilities

It’s important to look not only at how much you will be paying in rent each month but to also be familiar with what utilities are/aren’t included in your monthly payment. Some homes and apartments may seem cheap on the surface, but the asking price may not include water, gas and/or electric in the monthly price. Other factors to look into are whether Internet, cable and trash are included. All of these fees can add up quickly making that seemingly cheap house, much more expensive.

Shop early

Living in a house or apartment means you will need to bring many items with you – for your kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom. Once you sign your lease, sit down with your future roommates to discuss what items you think you will need. Then, start looking and buying. Purchasing various items throughout the course of the year rather than a week before you move in will reduce stress and anxiety. You should also split up who is buying what to make sure you aren’t buying duplicates.