While many universities and colleges offer on-campus housing, some students may choose to or need to live elsewhere. Here are five tips for finding off-campus housing.

1. See if Your School Offers Off-Campus Housing

At some schools, off-campus housing is provided, with the institution renting space and subletting it to students for lower rates. However, not every school does this, and those that do may only offer this option to certain students, such as upperclassmen or graduate students. For example, if you’re interested in USC off campus housing, you should first check to make sure USC allows students to live off-campus. If the university does, then you can dig deeper and see whether it’s your responsibility to find housing or the university provides assistance.

2. Live with Roommates

Unline on-campus housing, which is billed as room and board when you pay your tuition, you’ll need to pay rent and utility bills when you live off-campus. You can significantly lower these expenses by choosing to live with roommates. If you’ve already lived with one or more roommates on-campus, this likely won’t be a difficult transition. You should set the same ground rules you would with roommates on-campus.

3. Start Searching Early

Off-campus housing is one of those rental situations where you need to be on the ball. You can’t take your time looking for the perfect place or take your time moving in. This is due both to school semesters being heavily scheduled and to this type of student housing being highly sought after. To return to the USC example, off campus housing near USC may be rented out quite quickly prior to the beginning of the semester. If you want to live off-campus, it’s a good idea to start looking right away.

4. Consider Your Commute

As an off-campus student, one of the most essential considerations you’ll need to make outside of expenses is your commute. If you don’t have a car, you want to be within walking distance of your campus or have reliable access to public transit so you can commute. If you do have a car, check whether you need a parking pass. However you plan to commute, make sure you know several routes and leave with enough time to make it to campus for classes and other activities and responsibilities.

5. Start a Budget

Living by a budget is an essential skill for living on your own and living off-campus can help you learn how to do so. Not only do you need to pay rent and utilities, but you also need to be able to afford groceries, car upkeep and socializing. Create a budget and make sure you have enough money to meet all your needs while you’re in school. If your budget doesn’t work, adjust it and ask for help if you think you need it.

Off-campus housing is an attractive alternative to living off-campus for some people. If it’s something you’re interested in, make sure you check your school’s residency policies and research the types of residences available near your campus.

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