How to move off campus and sign a lease

<p>Students looking for a house or apartment for the next year or semester will be able to sign leases soon if not already. <strong>Alison Carroll, DN File</strong></p>

Students looking for a house or apartment for the next year or semester will be able to sign leases soon if not already. Alison Carroll, DN File

Some call it “adulting,” some call it “frightening,” but most would agree signing a lease is one of the first grown-up things you can do as a college student. This guide explains the steps in landing an off-campus pad.

Although Ball State requires its students to live on campus for their 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, to have the best off-campus living experience, students should follow these tips: 

Start soon:

Houses and apartments often fill up quickly.

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 to rent.

Now, most available off-campus housing locations can be found and viewed online. Websites such as BSUCampusRentals.com and RentBSU.com allow students to see photos and prices of different homes. 

Many apartment complexes also have their own websites where information about available spaces can be found. 

So, be sure to check online before venturing around Muncie for your next college home.

Shop early:

It’s important to look not only at how much you will be paying in rent each month, but also to be familiar with what utilities are and are not included in the monthly payment. 

Some homes and apartments may seem cheap on the surface, but the asking price may not include water, gas and/or electricity in the monthly price.

Other factors to look into are whether the costs of internet, cable and trash are included.

All of these fees can add up quickly, making a seemingly cheap house much more expensive.

Utilities:

Living in a house or apartment means you will need to bring many items for your kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom with you. 

Once you sign your lease, sit down with your future roommates to discuss what items will be needed. 

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 and your roommates aren’t buying duplicates.

While house hunting, make sure you are getting answers to questions regarding the lease-signing process.

House or apartment? 

Use our housing guide (ballstatedaily.com/roost) to get an idea of the prices and properties available in Muncie.

How many people? 

Figure out who your roommates are and how many bedrooms you’re looking for. 

Take a walk

Take a little tour around Muncie and see what properties have a “for rent” sign. Most also list the number of bedrooms.

Ask for a showing 

Contact the landlord and let them know you’re interested. They’ll let you schedule a time to look at the inside of the property.

Ask your friends 

Ask the landlord or apartment complex for references to find out what living there is really like, or go back when the landlord isn’t there and ask residents about their experiences.

Ask a ton of questions 

Be like a parent at orientation. Ask about utilities, parking, maintenance, damage payments, landlord contact info, summer subleasing, nails in the wall ... everything.

Read the lease 

Ask a parent or friend to read the lease, too. Make sure to address any questions with the landlord or complex before signing. 

Sign the lease 

Most places will require you to make a down payment — typically first month’s rent — or security deposit when you sign. It’s helpful to have all roommates present when signing.

Move in and set up utilities 

Your lease will include a move-in date. If it’s a house, you will likely need to call the utility companies before moving in so everything is ready for your arrival.

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