Tag Archives: Housing

Looking for Cheap or Free Stuff for Your Apartment?

21 Jun

With August closing in and the new year of leases starting soon, it’s time to start prepping for your new place. Whether it’s in Purdue housing or an off-campus apartment, you most likely need to buy a few things. It’s easy to create a huge dent in your summer savings if you buy everything at full retail price. So buy used!

I’ve always been able to easily find furniture under $50 a piece every year I’ve been at Purdue. I’ve even gotten some stuff for free. Where, you ask?

1. Thrift Stores    

Pros: It’s a one-stop-shop for small items like cooking utensils, dining ware, and picture frames at a reasonable price.

clothes rack

Cons:  If you’re looking for something very specific, they can be hit or miss. Furniture and other large items are in slim choice at Goodwill.

Where:

West Lafayette Goodwill
907 Sagamore Parkway West
West Lafayette, IN 47904
(First Saturday of every month is ½ price everything in the store)

Habitat for Humanity
3815 Fortune Dr.
Lafayette, IN 47905

Trinity Thrift Store
1224 Union Street
Lafayette, IN 47904

Amused Clothing
316 1/2 W State St
West Lafayette, IN 47906


2. 
Garage Sales 

community yard sale

Pros: Extremely cheap prices. I’ve found many household items for less than $5 at garage sales. Furniture can be harder to find, but when you do, it’s very cheap. In addition, you can haggle with the owner for a lower price. I rarely have someone turn down a lower offer.

Cons: Again, if you are looking for a very specific item, you might have trouble finding it. You also might have to drive all around town hitting up different sales to get everything you need, and we all know gas isn’t cheap.

Where: Check out Tippecanoe CraigslistYard Sale Search, or pick up a Journal and Courier on Friday or Saturday morning for the classifieds.

3. One Man’s Trash is Your Treasure

There’s a special kind of Senior Week here at Purdue. As graduating students move to full-time jobs in distant cities, there are countless free scores waiting by every dumpster, trash can, and curb side in West Lafayette.

Pros: Well for one, it’s free. But don’t worry; you won’t have to jump inside a dumpster. Many considerate movers will leave their perfectly usable unwanted furniture and appliances in a clean spot beside the dumpster.

Cons: Hey, if you’re willing to jump into a dumpster to dig deeper, I’m not stopping you. You just might get a little messy.

Where: Take a stroll or car ride around the student neighborhoods and see what you can find. Large apartment complexes will be overflowing with treasures.

4. Craigslist

craigslist-logo.jpg

Pros:  You can shop in your pajamas at home and the seller might even deliver the goods to you. Performing a quick search through the listings is the fastest and easiest way to find a very particular item for cheap. Remember to haggle down the price!

Cons: Setting up a time and place to meet someone for your purchase can be a bit of a pain, especially if they cancel at the last second. “Oh yeah, I forgot had dinner with the in-laws tonight. Can we do tomorrow?”

Where: The Lafayette/West Lafayette Tippecanoe Craigslist.

5. Purdue Surplus

Ever wonder where all those abandoned bikes from campus go? They get shipped off to the Purdue Warehouse & Surplus Store in Lafayette! They specialize in old furniture from Purdue buildings, bikes, computers and monitors, and student lost-and-found stuff.

Pros: The prices are extremely cheap. I’ve gotten an exercise bike for $10 and a coffee table for $5 from the warehouse in the past.

Cons: The Purdue Warehouse & Surplus Store has odd operating hours – Mon-Fri  12PM-4PM. So if you’re only free on weekends, this option is out.  You also might be purchasing something you once owned.

Where:
Purdue Warehouse & Surplus Store
700 Ahlers Dr
West Lafayette, IN 47907

Savings Tips for Summer Utilities

30 May

With Memorial Day behind us, it’s finally summer (technically summer doesn’t actually begin until June 21st)! That means spending days on the water, grilling burgers, getting some sun and… higher utility bills.

You can’t do anything about the heat and humidity, and unless you want to be miserable for months you will need to turn on the A/C. Rather than saving money by sitting alone in the dark all of the time, use these tips to help keep your utility bill in check.

Unplug what you don’t use

If it’s plugged in to the wall and not a power strip, it’s going to be using power! Unplug those phone charges, lamps that are really just for decoration, and other appliances when you’re not actually using them.

Use ceiling fans (properly)

Useful for regulating temperature in both winter and summer, ceiling fans can give you a nice breeze if they are set the right direction. Remember that fans only cool you down if you can feel the breeze from it! If you can’t feel the wind coming off the fan, it is actually wasting electricity.

Shut unused vents

Have a room that you don’t use or that roommate moved out for the summer? Close the vents in that room. There’s no reason to pay to keep a room that’s always vacant at a comfortable temperature.

Master the thermostat

If you have a programmable thermostat, adjust it to make it cooler when you’re home. 5 minutes reading the manual can save you significantly! If you have one that can’t be programmed, make a habit of adjusting it if no one will be home.

Embrace the darkness

Make your parents proud by shutting the lights off behind you when leave the room! If you’re playing video games or watching Netflix, you can turn the lights off too and enjoy the screen in all its glory.

Friends have benefits

Have a friend whose utilities are included in their rent? As long as they are cool with it, they may now be living in the new go-to hang out spot.

Laundry savings

Wash your clothes exclusively in cold water and skip the dryer. Hang a clothes line and let your clothes air dry. If a clothes line isn’t an option, consider some sort of drying rack.

Avoid using the oven

Using the oven can heat up a kitchen real quick. If you have a toaster oven, it can be a great substitute that creates much less heat. However, don’t use this as an excuse to eat out! It only takes a couple meals out to blow through what you have saved from doing everything on this list.

The Great Debate: Living On-Campus or Off-Campus?

11 Jan

Where you live and who you live with can be one of the most important decisions you make each year. There are benefits and drawbacks of each option, but the best choice varies for each person. Taking stock of what you want in your housing, how you’re paying for it and the various perks it offers can help you find the right spot to call home for the next year.

While residence halls (dorms) are often the go-to for first-year students, they are not mandatory to live in. Apartments and houses are available for incoming students off-campus too, but often you’ll need roommates and finding them when you’ve only been to campus once for a tour can be difficult. But no matter how long you’ve been in school, it’s a decision you have to make every year and a little comparison can only help you make the best choice for you!

living on campus or off campus22.jpg

One of the main differences between living on-campus & off-campus is the distance from your classes and buildings you need to visit. Living on-campus puts you in the closest proximity for getting to your classes, going to the co-rec, or making it to meetings with your advisor. Depending on how far you live off-campus this may or may not be an issue. If you live across the street from campus this is basically on-campus. However, if you’re a ways away you’ll have to rely on the buses, biking in, driving (if you’re quite a distance away), or just hoofing it. Unfortunately all of these options become a lot less fun when the weather goes cold.

Comparing prices between on-campus and off-campus can be difficult since there’s a wide range for both choices and difference in how you have to pay for them. On-campus residence halls and apartments are generally going to cost you more than living off-campus. However, the big difference many people neglect is how you pay for them. Payment for your housing (and meal plan) is due at beginning of the semester along with your tuition if you live on-campus. If you live off-campus in a house or apartment you will be making a payment each month. These monthly payments are typically much easier to pay out of pocket rather than having to come up with a whole semester’s housing all at once.

If you’re living off-campus, you’ll also want to pay attention to your utility bills in addition to your rent – a problem that living on-campus doesn’t have as it’s a fixed rate. Paying for things like heat, electricity and internet can bust your budget if you had not factored them in. Additionally your laundry situation can involve many things including nothing in your place, having coin-operated machines, or even the mythical free-to-use machines in a place where you don’t have to pay utilities.

One cost that you’ll have to pay for whether you live on or off-campus is your food. There’s no difference in the rates for meal plans where you live, but if you don’t live close to campus your plans to eat every meal in a dining hall probably won’t end up happening. As previously mentioned, your cost for a meal plan is due up-front at the beginning of the semester. Even if you have a meal plan it definitely won’t be your source for 100% of your food as you’ll probably buy snacks, go out to eat at a restaurant or grab food to go from another source at some point.

Possibly the biggest make-or-break part of anywhere that you live is your roommate. Rooming with someone you never met, or even your best friend, can be extremely difficult. Whether it’s sleeping a few feet from them in a dorm room or just sharing a kitchen and living room in an apartment, roommate issues are a frequent source of contention. While you do have the option to have your own place, it comes at a considerable cost both on and off campus. The showering situation in the residence halls might get a bit of flack but sharing a shower with a few of your friends and not cleaning it properly or often enough can make its own frightful situation.

The last major consideration is whether you plan on being around during the summer for classes, internships/ jobs, or just because. Most off-campus contracts are year-round so if you’re splitting back to your family’s home once classes end you’ll still be paying for your place at school. However, living in a residence hall and having summer classes can put you in a spot in having to find a sublease too. While it’s not usually too hard to find options since so many students would rather have someone sublet from them than have to pay their rent during the summer it’s not always the easiest to find a perfect situation to slide into.

Remember, you can use your financial aid to pay for living both on and off-campus! If you live on-campus you’re billed for housing along with tuition and it is due when classes start. This makes it extremely important to have your aid lined up for the beginning of the semester. If your aid doesn’t cover everything that you owe, you’ll need to find a way to cover the difference or create a payment plan with the Bursar’s Office. Any extra aid above what you are billed (whether you live on or off-campus) will be refunded to you. If you’re living off-campus it’s usually a good plan to put this toward your rent. Paying ahead can be great for lifting any worries for a while, just be sure to get a receipt if you do!

Off-Campus Life: The Good, the Bad, and the Happy Medium

21 Nov

Leah Steppe- Public Relations and Advertising, Peer Counselor
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

For Rent Sign

Deciding where to live while you’re in college is a big decision for most. It’s your home away from home. There are hundreds of different living options while you are in college house, apartment, duplex, or dorm. One way to narrow down your search is to answer one simple question… Do you want to live on or off campus?.

To help ease the decision let’s discuss pros and cons to living off campus.

Distance

Pro: Many housing options (house, apartment, duplex) are considered off campus but are actually within walking distance to campus.  Living within walking distance can be great for students who want to live close (especially students who don’t have a car) but do not want to live in the dorms.

Con: Living off campus can mean living OFF campus, be careful what you look for. Although, many residency options are close to campus, there are just as many that are not within walking distance and require additional transportation… Most places around Purdue University are less than 10 miles or closer to campus so the drive really isn’t bad. Check out our article “Is It Worth It to Own a Car In College?” to see if you can afford the cost of transportation or for ideas on other means of transportation, some apartment complexes even have their own shuttle service.

Cost

The cost of living off campus can be significantly cheaper than living on campus, but it’s all about how and where you live.

Pro: Living off campus can be cheaper if you live in the right place. Typically, living further off campus can save you money on rent but your transportation costs may increase.

Photo By DrJunge

Typically, the nicer the apartment (i.e more amenities) the more expensive it is so you have to be careful. Living in a smaller place with more roommates can also save money by spreading the costs of living with more people (not just rent, but utilities, transportation, and food too). You also have the ability to buy and make your own food which means you can save a lot of money if you shop wisely. If it is your first time on your own or you just want to learn how to cook for less check out “Suiting Up Your Kitchen” or “When Raman Just Isn’t Enough, Why you Should Cook!”to learn quick tips on setting up your kitchen and cooking more than out of a box.

Con: Living closer to campus can be more expensive because you have the luxury of living close to classes, food, and entertainment. Living in a nicer, larger apartment with many amenities can be more expensive as well. The cost is greater because the demand for those apartments will be higher and real estate is all about location location location.

Space

Zami student housingPro: Moving out of the dorms means having a lot more space. When you live in an apartment or a house you usually have your own bedroom which means no more sharing a bedroom. You also could have your own bathroom or one you share with 1 or 2 other people, which is better than a whole floor of people. Almost all apartments or houses are going to offer more space than a dorm, just be sure to do your research.

Con: You may end up paying more for that space though if you choose to live in an apartment complex with lots of amenities. The fewer roommates you have, the more space you have, but you typically end up paying more for a 2-bedroom apartment versus a 4-bedroom apartment. Also, it costs money to heat and cool all that extra space too, something you didn’t have to account for when living in the dorms and the heating bill can really add up in the chilly Indiana winters.

Lease

Signing a lease means you are locked into living in that space for as long as the lease says, unless you sublease your place. Most leases around Purdue University are for a full year which means you are responsible for paying rent even when school is not in session.

FDR signing paperPro: This can be a good thing for those students taking summer courses, working on or around campus for the summer, or if you just want to get away from home for a while.

Con: It can be a hassle though as a lot of students will go home during the summer which means paying rent for a place you are not even living at.

Deciding where to live while you are away at college is a big decision. Make sure you do some research before choosing a place because once you sign that lease it is difficult to get out. Here are some resources to check out for help in finding the right place for you:

  • Boiler Apartments
  • Purdue Housing Fair: Takes places once a semester on campus. Several apartment complexes hand out information about their apartments and free stuff! Dates will be announced at beginning of each semesters.
  • Purdue Off Campus Housing

The right place is out there for everyone whether it’s on campus, off campus, right next to campus, or somewhere in between. Just be sure to find the right fit for you and remember there are pros and cons to living on and off campus. When you find the right place it will not be a dorm, apartment, house, or duplex it will be your home.

Healthy Eating on a College Budget

29 Sep

Heather Kessler, Purdue University Alumna
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

healthy-eating-on-college-budget

Is it really possible to eat healthy while on a small college budget? There are many guides on the internet offering advice on this topic. I’ve gone ahead and broken down a few of the most common suggestions.

1)      Always have low-budget healthy staples on hand.  This is just a small list of what can be helpful to have in the pantry or fridge at all times.

list of healthy foods

2)      Have a plan before you shop.

  • Check to see what is on sale that week at local grocery stores, and what coupons are available
  • Make a menu for the next week (or two)
  • See what you already have in stock in your kitchen
  • Make a list of the other items you need
  • Stick to that list while shopping for items
  • Try to stay around the perimeter of the grocery store as this is where the healthy produce tends to be.  The aisles usually contain items that have been processed and are not very healthy.

grocery store producs

3)      If you struggle with buying more when you have a card, plan how much you are willing to spend ahead of time and get just that amount in cash.  This will help you keep to your pre-determined budget and be less likely to overspend.

4)      For fruits and vegetables try to stick with what is in season and on sale, as it will keep the prices down.  Frozen vegetables are also good to use and will keep longer (and can usually be found at lower prices than fresh vegetables).  Canned is okay, but they tend to use more preservatives in the canning process.

5)      For lean protein on a budget, try to stay with white meats.  Chicken and turkey are both great options.  If you are willing to spend a little more money, salmon or tilapia offer wonderful health benefits.

6)      Whole grains offer the most nutrition for the dollar with items such as bread or pasta.  Try to avoid white bread and pasta since they are processed and most of their nutrients have been taken out.

Try not to waste any of the food you have, you invested good money into those items and they should be used.  If you need ideas on different entrees to make with the same ingredients Pinterest or The Food Network have many different ideas and they are easy to navigate through.  Here’s to healthy eating and more money in your bank account!

Renters Insurance: Pros & Cons

13 Sep

Chris Bibey is the founder of Finance.info, a website providing personal finance advice from the pros.

No matter if you are renting an apartment as a college student or a single family home as a young professional, you are going to have many financial decisions staring you in the facestudent-housing-ww.jpg.

One of the most important questions you have to answer is this: Should I purchase renter’s insurance or opt against this coverage for the time being?

Like any sort of insurance policy, you need to compare the pros and cons to ensure that you are making the right choice. Upon doing so, you will have a better idea of how to move forward.

Pros

Most people soon find that the advantages of buying renter’s insurance greatly outweigh any perceived downfalls. Here are several benefits you don’t want to overlook:

  • It is affordable. While home insurance can often times be expensive, this is not the case with a renter’s policy. For approximately $10-$15 per month, you can receive up to $50,000 of personal property coverage. These numbers are rough estimates, but give you a good idea of just how affordable a policy can be.
  • The ability to add liability coverage. In addition to coverage for your personal property, liability protection is a big deal. For instance, if somebody is hurt on your property or your dog decides to bite a neighbor, you will be protected.
  • It’s easy to obtain: Plenty of companies offering high quality renter’s insurance. Regardless of where you live, you won’t have a difficult time finding an agent who can provide you with the policy you are looking for. Investigate your current auto or life insurer, they too can have renter’s insurance policies and bundling insurance policies could save you more money.Acer Laptop

Cons

Generally speaking, there are not many disadvantages of renter’s insurance. However, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Deductible: Like any insurance policy, there will be a deductible attached to this coverage. This is the amount you will pay out of your own pocket before your policy kicks in.
  • Another monthly expense: Although renter’s insurance doesn’t cost a lot, this is an expense you have to add to your budget. Can you afford it?

Now that you understand the pros and cons of renter’s insurance, it is time to decide if it is right for you.

If you rent an apartment or home, this is a relatively cheap type of policy that can provide you with personal property and liability protection. Most agree that carrying some sort of coverage would be in their best interest. How do you feel about this?

Where to Find Cheap or Free Stuff for your Apartment in the Greater Lafayette Area

22 Jun

Lauren Walker, Purdue alumna
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

With August closing in and the new year of leases starting soon, it’s time to start prepping for your new place. Whether it’s in Purdue housing or an off-campus apartment, you most likely need to buy a few things. It’s easy to create a huge dent in your summer savings if you buy everything at full retail price. So buy used!  I’ve always been able to easily find furniture under $50 a piece every year I’ve been at Purdue. I’ve even gotten some stuff for free. Where, you ask?

clothes rack

1.      Thrift Stores    

PROS: It’s a one-stop-shop for small items like cooking utensils, dining ware and picture frames at a reasonable price.

CONS:  If you’re looking for something very specific, they can be hit or miss. Furniture and other large items are in slim choice at Goodwill.

WHERE:

Trinity Thrift Store
1224 Union Street
Lafayette, IN 47904

West Lafayette Goodwill
907 Sagamore Parkway West
West Lafayette, IN 47904
(First Saturday of every month is ½ price everything in the store)

salvage yard

Habitat for Humanity
3815 Fortune Dr.
Lafayette, IN 47905

2.      Garage Sales 

community yard sale

PROS: Extremely cheap prices. I’ve found many household items for less than $5 at garage sales. Furniture can be harder to find, but when you do, it’s very cheap. In addition, you can haggle with the owner for a lower price. I rarely have someone turn down a lower offer.

CONS: Again, if you are looking for a very specific item, you might have trouble finding it. You also might have to drive all around town hitting up different sales to get everything you need, and we all know gas isn’t cheap.

WHERE: Check out Tippecanoe CraigslistYard Sale Search, or pick up a Journal and Courier on Friday or Saturday morning for the classifieds.

3.      One Man’s Trash is Your Treasure

one man's trash is another's treasure

There’s a special kind of Senior Week here at Purdue. As graduating students move to full-time jobs in distant cities, there are countless free scores waiting by every dumpster, trash can, and curb side in West Lafayette.

PROS: Well for one, it’s free. But don’t worry; you won’t have to jump inside a dumpster. Many considerate movers will leave their perfectly useable unwanted furniture and appliances in a clean spot beside the dumpster.

CONS: Hey, if you’re willing to jump into a dumpster to dig deeper, I’m not stopping you. You just might get a little messy.

WHERE: Take a stroll or car ride around the student neighborhoods and see what you can find. Large apartment complexes will be overflowing with treasures.

4.      Craigslist

craigslist store front

PROS:  You can shop in your pajamas at home and the seller might even deliver the goods to you. Performing a quick search through the listings is the fastest and easiest way to find a very particular item for cheap. Remember to haggle down the price!

CONS: Setting up a time and place to meet someone for your purchase can be a bit of a pain, especially if they cancel at the last second. “Oh yeah, I forgot had dinner with the in-laws tonight. Can we do tomorrow?”

WHERE: The Lafayette/West Lafayette Tippecanoe Craigslist.

5.      Purdue Surplus

Ever wonder where all those abandoned bikes from campus go? They get shipped off to the Purdue Warehouse & Surplus Store in Lafayette! They specialize in old furniture from Purdue buildings, bikes, computers and monitors, and student lost-and-found stuff.

PROS: The prices are extremely cheap. I’ve gotten an exercise bike for $10 and a coffee table for $5 from the warehouse in the past.

CONS: The Purdue Warehouse & Surplus Store has odd operating hours – Mon-Fri  12PM-4PM. So if you’re only free on weekends, this option is out.  You also might be purchasing something you once owned.

WHERE:

Purdue Warehouse & Surplus Store
700 Ahlers Dr

West Lafayette, IN 47907

6.      Auctions

world's largest car auction

PROS: Bids on small household items are typically auctioned off by the box-full. Larger items like furniture are bid on individually, usually under $50, as long as it is not an antique.

CONS: Auctions can take up an entire afternoon if the item you want is at the end of the bidding schedule. Many auctions have expensive antiques for sale, making them useless for our purposes.

WHERE: Search online for auctions in the Greater Lafayette area or check the Journal and Courier classifieds section.

7.      Freecycle

Freecycle is an online email community to which you subscribe. Members post free items they have up for grab, from couches to clothes. How it works, you email the member who posted the item to set up a time and place to pick up the item. As a member, you can ask items you need and you will be emailed free offers from other members.

PROS: It’s completely free!

CONS: Freecycle works only through Yahoo! Groups, so if you don’t like to use Yahoo!  E-mail, you can’t use Freecycle. Since everything is free, things go fast. If you don’t have time to keep a watchful eye on the Freecycle emails, you might not move fast enough to get something.

WHERE: The Freecycle Network

It may seem tedious to think through every avenue to save some money on household items. But if you were to save even $100, you’ve paid for at least one textbook.

Is That Apartment Actually Affordable?

24 Sep

Raysha Duncan, Purdue Alum
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

It’s almost October! You know that means? It’s time to start signing for apartments for next year. That’s right, you just got all settled into your dorm or current apartment and everybody’s already asking about your plans for fall 2016.

As you’re bombarded with information about the newest and best apartments available, you’ll want to keep in mind whether or not you’ll actually be able to afford the amazing deal they’re offering you (or that your friends are trying to talk you into). Here are some things to consider before jumping into the pool of possibilities!

feet going up stairs; text overlay: Is That Apartment Affordable?

How much is your portion of the rent?

This is one of the first things you’ll want to look at – do you have an individual lease or a group lease? If you’re on an individual lease, you’re responsible for just your room/portion whereas with a group lease, you and all of your roommates are responsible for the whole rent. This means that if you have three roommates and one of them doesn’t pay, the rest of you are expected to pick up the slack.

How much is the deposit?

Do you have enough right now to pay the deposit? Will it set you back and deplete your emergency savings? If you don’t have any savings right now, you should think about building some up before signing onto such a big expense every month.

What utilities do you have to pay for?

Many apartments include at least some of the utilities, but you’ll want to find this out at the beginning so you can factor utility payments into your monthly expenses. Utilities at an apartment can include: water, sewage/trash, electric, gas, cable, etc. Cable is most likely optional, but if your roommates decide it’s necessary, then you’ll have to pitch in and pay for that as well.

What happens if one of your roommates doesn’t pay their portion?

If you have an individual lease, you’re probably fine. But if both of your names are on the lease or on a utility bill that’s not paid, then you’ll have to either convince them to pay it or just pay it yourself. Missing a payment could affect your credit score, and definitely your relationship with your landlord if it’s the rent.

How far away from campus are you?

Is there a bus route? Do you need a car? These are two of the biggest factors when deciding how far away from campus you’re going to live. The Greater Lafayette Area has a great bus system, so chances are that you’re on a bus route, but you’ll want to double-check. You’ll also want to see how long it would take you to get to campus every day. A 50-minute bus ride to and from campus every day may not be the most convenient!

If you do need a car, that’s a whole other expense you’ll need to take into consideration: insurance, gas, parking pass, and buying the car/monthly payments.

Do you have everything you need to move in?

What necessities do you still need to live on your own? Do you have the means to acquire those things? How much do your future roommates have that they’re going to be bringing along? If you don’t have anything you need to move into an apartment, those are things you’ll need to save up for and purchase before moving.

How much will your groceries cost every month?

So your budget can cover your rent, but can you still feed yourself every month? You could potentially eat on just $50/month…but you probably won’t be eating very healthy or very well. You need to make sure you’ll have enough to eat every month too, and the dining courts won’t be a convenient option for you anymore once you’ve moved off campus.

College Seniors Week 3: Where Do You Live?

23 Apr

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

Road Map; Text Overlay: Where Do You Live After Graduation?

All you have to do is Google the phrase “housing after college” to instantly become terrified of where you’ll be living after college. According to this article by Jordan Weissman, the percentage of college students who were living with family after college in 2011 was 45%. As if you weren’t worried enough about what’s to come after college, now you have to think about moving back in (or in my case continue to live with…) mom and dad?! Calm down… You may be part of the 55% that doesn’t have to! But either way, here are some things to consider:

…what about your college apartment?

If you’re already locked into a lease until the start of the next school year, then you may be able to stay where you are. You won’t have financial aid to help pay your bills, but you could pick up a part-time position around campus for the summer to make ends meet. If you’re not able to stick around for the summer (you’ve got a job or mom really wants you to come home), then you might want to start looking into a subletter. Lots of freshmen who lived in the dorms take summer classes and they’ll be looking for a place to live especially if your university doesn’t offer dorm housing for the summer. Make sure to check with any roommates first to see if they’re okay with someone else living in your room for three months. And if they’re iffy on it, remind them that Jess from New Girl was a stranger before she moved into her apartment and now they’re all best friends. Advertise in your local newspaper, your campus newspaper, Craigslist, and any community Facebook pages to find a subletter.

…would living with mom & dad be that bad?

This is really a personal decision that you have to face on your own. But, it’s something you should think about because it could save you a lot of money, especially if you’re looking for a job. Weigh the pros and cons and decide if saving money now could benefit you in the long run. If you’re working an interim job right now, moving back home may be a good option if you’re not sure where you’re going to end up living. And, may be you can create a better relationship with your parents before you move out for good.

…where are you planning to move to? Can you afford it now?

If you have the means to move to your dream location right now, then by all means go for it! Not everybody has the ability to pack up and chase their dreams, but if you are then get out there and get yourself established so you can start living your dreams. Scout out some companies you’re interested in and figure out what you’re going to do until you can find that dream job. If you can’t afford moving at the moment, but it’s your dream to live somewhere big like New York City or Los Angeles, maybe move back in with mom and dad or get additional roommates to save some dough until you can be on your own. No shame in saving for your dream.

The most important thing to remember is to be realistic. You can’t run off and live in a penthouse in New York City Gossip Girl-style. But, you maybe able to move to Jersey and ride the train into your first job in the city until you move your way up the ladder or land a better gig. And if you end up at home for awhile… So what? So do 45% of college grads.

High School Seniors Week 3: First Year Housing Hunt

20 Apr

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

wood floor; text overlay: First Year Housing Hunt

Not all housing options are Elle Woods-style sorority houses or the run-down apartments in which Rory Gilmore finished her years at Yale. And not all dorms are co-ed; you can find one where you won’t be confronted by the opposite sex in the shower room every day. There’s also the option of living off-campus in a house or apartment with 3 of your closest friends, but only if you start your hunt soon because they can fill up fast. Living at home with mom and dad (and siblings and high school drama and Fido) is always an option if you’re near your campus as well.

Residence Halls

Residence halls are like the rooms you see the kids at Hogwarts living in: a common room flanked by bedroom spaces. Except, usually, instead of sharing a room with your entire class year (or Neville Longbottom) you get to share a room with 0-3 people, and you may or may not have your own private bathroom. There’s not a one-size-fits-all motto with college dorms either. There’s a variety of sizes and amenities to choose from: single, double, triple, suite, air-conditioned, non-air-conditioned, private bathroom, shared bathroom, co-ed res hall, same-sex res hall…the list can go on and on. If you decide to live on-campus in a residence hall, then you have to choose which style of room is right for you (and your wallet). Singles tend to run more price-wise than doubles or triples. Some residence halls are nicer than others and have more amenities, so they typically cost more, even if it’s for the same size room.

Residence halls also tend to have the built-in meal plan options, a nice bonus because you can just walk to your meals at the dining court and not have to make them or clean up after them.

Off-Campus

Off-campus housing can consist of apartments, rental houses, sororities, fraternities, and any cooperative housing your university may have. Freshmen typically don’t live in fraternities and sororities their first semester, so we’ll focus on apartments and rental houses here. The nice thing about an apartment or rental house is that you can have more space than in a residence hall (maybe even a pet?) and you don’t have as many restrictions; Purdue freshmen who live on campus, for example, are not allowed to have a car on campus (unless they win a parking pass lotto), but you could have one at your apartment if you went that route. Apartment and house rental prices can vary greatly depending on the location to campus, the amenities offered, and the number of people in the apartment/house.  Since your rent and food costs aren’t billed through the school, so you would have to practice your budgeting skills: paying rent every month, paying bills, and buying your own groceries.

If you plan on living in an apartment your first year, you may miss out on some of the dorm bonding your peers have, but part of that bonding comes from close quarters which you may be able to live without.

Home with Mom and Dad

Living at home can save you money, and loan debt, in the long run if you’re able to do it… BUT some would view it as a restriction on their personal freedoms in college because they’re still in their childhood bedroom under their parents roof, sometimes with younger siblings (or three, in my case), and still subject to work around their family’s schedule. You’ll also be subject to parking restrictions and/or the bus system at your university, but you’ll be able to save up for a new car now instead of scrimping for more Cup-O-Noodles. It can be tough, it has been sometimes in my experience, but if you don’t mind and you want to save yourself from getting into unnecessary debt, then I’d say give it a shot.

And if the option you choose doesn’t work out, you can always try something different next year. You’ve got four years ahead of you, plenty of time to test the different housing options.

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