The transition from living at home to moving to college can be difficult on many levels. Getting into the right housing situation smooths several bumps in the road and can help a student gain independence.
The first step is deciding what kind of living arrangement works best.
If you decide to rent a two bedroom apartment in West Columbia, SC, here are ways to save money along the way:
A survey found that when it came to choosing an apartment, 47% of students cited rental rates and price as their leading factor.
Parents, on the other hand, had security (34 percent) as a priority. Rental rates were only third (20 percent) among parents, while location/proximity to campus was second at 29 percent.
Swimming pools and Internet cafes are great, but convenience and safety are very important as compared to whether your apartment complex has a fitness center.
If you can find housing close enough to walk or bike to campus, or along a bus route, consider leaving your car at home. Auto expenses add up quickly — monthly payments, insurance, routine maintenance, parking and gas.
Look for a place within walking distance of a grocery or a convenience store.
"Even buying at an overpriced convenience store is better than eating out every night," Pratt said. "Set aside a certain amount for dining out, grabbing McDonald's on the way home. But don't go over that amount. Make your own meals at home. Peanut butter and jelly isn't expensive."
Before signing a lease, give the apartment a thorough inspection. Document and photograph any damage or flaws and have them written into the lease. That way, when it comes time to move, the landlord can't claim that 1995-era cracked plaster is your fault and keep a chunk of the security deposit.
You might be able to save on the most basic expense: rent. Look for incentives to get more for your money such as a month's free rent or free utilities.
Emphasize characteristics that show you will be a good tenant, will pay on time and not cause any problems.
Landlords might be willing to bargain if you plan to rent for an entire year — working in town or attending summer school — and not just the regular school year.
Make sure everyone signs the lease. Roommates who drop out after a month would then be liable for their share of the rent.