By Elizabeth Scalzo
Moving away from home for college is a dream for some students. It is their first taste of what it’s like to be an adult.
Now, as the fall semester quickly approaches and the announcement of FDU’s official reopening plan, sent out by President Christopher Capuano on Monday, July 20, some students worry about what living on campus will look like and if moving off campus might be worth it.
Moving into campus won’t be the bittersweet Hallmark movie moment.
Instead, with a 90-minute time limit for moving in, students will barely have time to roll in their plastic bins and bags and have a proper farewell with the one person allowed to accompany them into the residence hall.
The start of the junior year is about the time some students plot to move off-campus housing to get away from the dining hall food and loud dorms. Making this move isn’t easy and takes time. Most places that rent either don’t want to rent to college students or require documents that many college students don’t have.
The biggest struggle to overcome is that most landlords require pay stubs for the last six months that guarantee you make more than what rent, utilities and food would cost. This is to assure you have a sustainable income source.
In the middle of a global pandemic, many people aren’t working.
I work as an assistant director for my local YMCA’s youth theatre program and since I never have set hours, I’m paid via stipend. No pay stubs. And, when the musical I was supposed to assistant direct this summer was canceled, I couldn’t apply for unemployment either.
Luckily, I and my future roommates were able to find a landlord who is used to working with college students and was able to explain to us other options for proof of income.
The biggest recommendation for anyone looking to move off campus is make sure you have a good credit score, money in your bank account or proof of a refund check from the university you attend. If someone is willing to rent to college students, those are the most common ways they will check to make sure you can pay rent before they let you sign your lease.
Also, for the FDU area, specifically, be prepared to have to drive a little further from campus to get a more-affordable rent. Make sure you also have enough money saved up for the security deposit and realtor’s fee — on top of the first month’s rent.
As far as actually finding a place to rent, I suggest you and your future roommates each take two websites like Zillow and Trulia and start applying for more information. We applied for information on close to 50 places. Many of them never sent us information and others ending up not being worth it. The search takes time, energy and lots of patience.
If you do get a reply with more information, here are some questions to ask the owner or realtor before signing your lease:
- Is there parking? Is it on the street or off the street?
- Are any utilities included in rent?
- What kind of WiFi is available in the area? This is crucial now with online learning!
- What kind of heat is in the apartment? Different types of heat will cost different amounts.
- Is there a washer/dryer in the unit or building?
- Who is responsible for landscaping/snow removal? Especially important if you’re renting a house!
- When is rent due each month?
Also, make sure all paperwork for canceling on-campus living is processed as soon as you sign your lease.
We luckily locked down a lease this week and will move in mid-August.
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Art by Elizabeth Scalzo