How do you choose the right housing for your particular needs as a student? It's a decision that can affect your academic performance and it's also going to impact your social and life development in all kinds of ways.
Each student has their own needs and circumstances. For some, the final rental price is important and they are mainly interested in the financial side of housing. For example, it's common for universities to offer off-campus accommodation they have procured through deals with real estate agencies, but these options are often above the financial capabilities of the average student.
Others are more lucky and are mainly interested in where they will have the most privacy and access to entertainment. Others still are interested in what kind of people he or she will live and associate with and how far it will take to get to school.
There are more factors than we can list, but these are the basic crossroads questions you'll need to have answered before you continue.
It is not possible for us to tell you what is definitely the best option for you in every case, but if you are currently or soon to be a student and looking for the right housing, check available options for off-campus living. Let's get right into the meat and start with... your parents.
Living with parents
The simplest option for many is simply not moving out from mom and dad's at all. Often students choose a school in the immediate vicinity of their parents' home because they save piles of money on renting an expensive apartment or living on campus.
Some students perceive their parents' house as a 24/7 hotel with many benefits and services. You don't have to change your habits in any way. If you have lived with your parents thus far, nothing will probably change. So it is one of the main options, but only if your parents accept it and you are accepted by a school that is reasonably close.
Living with close family
If a student is accepted by a school that is remote, you may have the option to ask a nearby family member if you can shack up for one or more school years.
If you are so lucky as to have family in the school area, and they have allowed you to live with them (tip: offer at least some form of rent to pay for consumables, etc), you have won half of the challenge.
Half mainly because you will have to learn a new housing regime and you will probably have to accept the rules of the family. They may want you to have an earlier evening or be at home for dinner at all times. It could be a family with certain religious habits that will make you uncomfortable. They may want you to help in various ways in the household, etc.
Rent your own flat
If money's no issue, you can rent your own apartment near the school. In this case it's important that you think about what is going to be most important to you in a long term living arrangement. Comfort? Privacy? Noise? Safety?
Before you rent anything, thoroughly investigate both the flat and the neighborhood you are going to live in. What is the word on the street for this area? Are there any shops nearby? Restaurants? Bars? How heavy is the traffic? How do you get to school -- what transport options will you have?
Be very cautious, because as a first time renter you may learn the hard way that all is not what it seems from a simple inspection. You may find that your neighbor is noisy, that the windows do not seal well, and that you hear traffic at all hours of the day. You may find that there is something seriously wrong with the apartment and your landlord is sketchy or useless and too lazy to make repairs. What then? You're about to learn what a hassle it can be to get out of a contract early.
Rent a room with your friend
It's basically the same as above, but with your friend -- you share all rent and responsibilities fifty-fifty. If you aren't socially awkward, it's also twice the fun.
If you discover things that upset you after signing the contract and you want to get out of it, you still may have a real boondoggle on your hands, but at least you live with someone you can talk to and shoulder half the effort and money. All of this assumes you are a good judge of character and don't shack up with someone who is "late" on his or her share.
Coliving is one of the newest and one of the most sought-after off-campus living options. It's mainly used in big cities, but if your school is in one of the major cities in the US, you should absolutely consider the option.
You'll share housing with many others, but you will have either your own private room or a shared room where you will have your bed, wardrobe, work desk, etc. The kitchen, toilet, bathroom, laundry room, living room or dining room and so on are always shared.
The advantages of coliving is that you can move in immediately, aren't tied down for a long time unless you want to (but usually minimum 30 days), and that you move into a fully furnished and ready to go living situation. You will have not only high-speed internet, your own safe/locker for valuables, and lots of ready to go equipment/appliances; you'll also have regular cleaning taken care of for you.
In our opinion, this option is the best from the financial and social point of views. It also scores high on safety and leisure activities.