Over the years, studies have shown that the majority of college students at both public and private schools choose to live on-campus. About 40% of public school students and 65% of private school students live in dormitories or other on-campus residences each year.

But there are also plenty of college students who embrace off-campus living for at least one year when they’re away at school. Roughly 40% of public school students and about 20% of private school students live off-campus each year.

Are you thinking about joining them next semester? Before you move off-campus and get your own apartment or house, make sure you’re ready to make the jump.

Here are seven secret tips for off-campus living.

1. Figure Out How Much You Can Afford to Pay for Off-Campus Living

How much are you going to be able to afford to pay for off-campus living arrangements? That’s the number 1 question you’re going to need to answer when you’re considering moving off-campus at college.

According to one recent study, about 30% of the people who decide to move off-campus at college underestimate how much it’s going to cost them. Many of them end up going into debt to deal with the expenses that they run into.

When figuring out how much you can afford to pay to live off-campus, you should, of course, think about rent. But you should also think about:

  • Utility bills
  • Transportation costs
  • Grocery bills
  • Cable and internet fees

The cost of living off-campus can really add up for some students. You need to be in a position to handle all of these different expenses every month.

2. Consider Adding a Roommate or Even Multiple Roommates to the Mix

One way to offset some of the costs associated with off-campus living is by linking up with a roommate—or, better yet, several roommates—and getting a house or apartment together.

Paying $1,200 a month to rent an apartment on your own might be too steep for your budget. But renting a house with four people for $2,200 a month will be so much more manageable.

You don’t necessarily want to try to cram 12 people into a house that only sleeps seven or eight. But there is strength in numbers when it comes to finding off-campus living arrangements.

3. Shop for Safe Homes and Apartments in the Area of Your College

Once you’ve crunched the numbers and figured out how much you can afford to spend on off-campus housing and decided whether or not you’re going to live with roommates, you can start your house hunting.

Look for homes and apartments located in safe neighborhoods that aren’t too far from your school. You want to be able to get to school and back easily without having to spend a ton of time commuting.

Need to hand locating homes and apartments that might be right for college students? Work with an organization like Davisville Management Company to find some great options.

4. Make Sure You Have Reliable Transportation (and Can Afford It!)

How are you going to get to class once you start living off-campus?

For some students, public transportation could be an option. You can jump on a bus or train and get to school, no problem.

But for others, owning a car might be the only option when it comes to getting to and from school. They need to have a reliable vehicle and the means to pay for everything that comes along with it.

To own a car when you’re in school, you’ll need to pay for:

  • Insurance
  • Registration
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Fuel
  • Parking

When you throw all these expenses on top of your rent and other expenses, it can be a lot for a college student to handle. Make sure you’re going to be up for the challenge.

5. Think About What You’re Going to Eat When You’re on Your Own

We already mentioned that you’re going to need to budget for food accordingly when you live off-campus. You won’t have easy access to a dining hall at school anymore.

You’re also going to need to learn how to prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner for yourself every day so that you stay healthy. This could be problematic if you don’t know your way around the kitchen.

It’ll be up to you to teach yourself how to prepare some basic meals. You don’t want to put yourself into a position where you’re eating out all the time and adding to your expenses.

6. Create Some Kind of Chore Chart for You and Your Roommates

When you live in a dorm room on-campus, cleaning up after yourself isn’t too difficult to do. You live in a relatively small space, which makes it easy to maintain it and keep it clean.

Once you move into a house or apartment, though, it’s a much different story. Suddenly, you need to worry about cleaning the kitchen, the bathrooms, the living room, and so much more.

Before you agree to live with roommates, you all need to put together a chore chart and figure out how you’re going to keep your place clean. Otherwise, your rental is going to turn into a pigsty in no time at all.

7. Introduce Yourself to Your Neighbors and Make Nice With Them

Even if you and your roommates love peace and quiet and don’t plan on throwing any wild parties in your off-campus housing, your neighbors might side-eye you when they see you moving in.

It’s natural for people to be a little worried about living next to college students. They’ve seen movies like Neighbors and assume the worst is going to happen.

Put their minds at ease by introducing yourself and giving them your cell phone number just in case they ever need to have a word with you. It’ll get your relationship with your neighbors off to a solid start.

You’ll Learn So Much About Life Through Off-Campus Living

Living off-campus is about as close to the “real world” as you’re going to get when you’re in college. You’ll get to experience all kinds of adult-like things that will prepare you for life after school.

Use the tips found here to make your off-campus living experience a great one. They’ll ensure that you and your roommates have the time of your lives while keeping your rental property—and your financial situation!—in good shape.

Get more advice on making the most of your college years by browsing through the other articles on our site.