By: Hannah Antillon

Leaving your parents’ house at 18 and moving into your first college apartment is exhilarating. You’re free! You’re out from under your parents’wing and calling all the shots for yourself: what you eat, when you go out, who your friends are, whether you keep your room clean or not.

I remember my first night at my college apartment. I made sure to do whatever I wanted, and it made me feel so alive! I just wanted to scream (and maybe I did) from my tiny shared room apartment window, “I AM AN ADULLLLLT!!!!”

Unfortunately, not all aspects of living on your own are sunshine and rainbows. Your newly found freedom literally comes with a price –rent. *cue soundtrack from the Conjuring*

What is rent?

Yeah. We all dread it. Paying monthly rent is the WORST. For those of you not familiar with the idea let me shed some light on the subject. Rent is what you pay to the owners of any given facility in exchange for its amenities. In more simpler terms, it is paying the landlord of your apartment complex for allowing you to live there. Every case is different, but the payment is usually due at the beginning of each month. Depending on where and what kind of apartment you live in, the rent amount will vary.

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For example, you can choose to live on campus, or off campus. You can choose to have a private room or a shared room. You can live in an older apartment building or a newer apartment building. All of these factors will determine how much you will pay.

I have been in your shoes before and know how hard it is to give a $500 check to your landlord on the first of every month when all you want is Panda Express but you are forced to eat another pack of ramen.

It is for this reason that I have written his blog post. Take it from me and my freshman struggles, there is a way to survive paying rent month to month in college. I am going to give you all the hacks I know. Let’s get started: 

Get a job

Working your freshman year may not help your social life but could save you financially when it comes to paying your monthly rent. Even if it’s just working an on-campus job for 10 hours a week—that makes a huge difference in your bank account! Both your landlord and bank account will thank you.

My freshman year I worked as an early morning janitor. I worked from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. every weekday. I quit after a short four months, but it helped me pay the bills. At the time it paid $8.50 an hour. Next, I worked at the university’s ticket office. That paid $8 an hour. Then I worked on campus in a public relations office for $11 an hour. Now, I work as a digital marketing specialist making $14 an hour. I graduate in two semesters.

The moral of the story: on campus jobs can save your budget. It sure saved mine.

I’m not trying to discredit off campus jobs. If you find a part time job, or feel ambitious and capable enough to work full time while in school, by all means, do it. However, on campus jobs are usually more forgiving when it comes to school commitments like taking tests or taking time off to attend a review session.

Save money

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Whether it’s marking an Excel sheet, clipping coupons, or just becoming aware of your favorite restaurants daily deals there are plenty of ways that you can save money. Before getting crafty with coupons, try writing down your monthly income, fixed costs (rent, gas, insurance and bills) and variable costs (groceries, entertainment) that month. From there, check your bank statement at the end of the month and decide on what variable costs you can cut down on (stop eating Panda Express three times a week and buy ingredients for PB&J instead).

Use student loans

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Although you may not want to, using a portion of your student loans to help pay for rent could be an effective option for you. Personally, I’ve never had to do that. But I’ve had friends that have. If you are focused on keeping your GPA up and don’t want to work because of the time commitment that comes from working, consider using your student loans to help pay rent. It might take the current stress of paying bills off you so that you can just focus on studying hard.

Live off campus

On campus housing is usually more expensive than off campus housing. Why? Think about it. You have an advantage living on campus because you are that much closer to buildings on campus. On campus housing also offers meal plans, guaranteed parking spaces, resident assistants, laundry units, etc.

Off campus housing is not as convenient as on campus housing but is a whole lot cheaper! I lived off campus my entire four years of college and I don’t regret it because I paid less than friends of mine that lived on campus. $300 a month for a shared room off campus is a lot cheaper than $450 for a shared room on campus.

Consider living in a home rather than a complex

Homes vs. apartments. Let me tell you about my experience.

Currently, I am living off campus with my husband in a basement apartment. We rent from a family of five that lives upstairs. We pay $300 less than other couples I know who are living in apartment complexes. Where did we find this basement apartment listed? Facebook marketplace. It’s a magical place. Check it out for all your housing/apartment needs.

What now?

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You’re moving out. It’s scary. You’re about to be on your own and pay your own bills. But now you know what to expect and what you can do to be able to pay your apartment rent while in college. College is supposed to be a happy time. So get out there and assess your options: get a job, save money, use student loans, live off campus, or consider living in a home rather than an apartment complex.

Once you get your living situation under control, the next thing to think about is possible majors. If you’re still not sure what you want to study, check out one of the most fast-growing industries in communication: digital marketing. Learn more here.

Categories: College

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