According to Collegefactual.com, the cost of living on campus at Loyola University Chicago in 2017-2018, was just over $14,000. In fact, many Chicago-area colleges and universities charge a hefty price for on campus housing, prompting upperclassmen to consider moving off campus.
If you’re among the many college co-eds planning to make the move to student apartments this fall – whether for financial reasons or the simple desire for more freedom and privacy – here are a few things to keep in mind for a smooth transition.
Choosing a Roommate
Living off campus doesn’t necessarily mean living alone. In fact, you may find that you simply can’t afford to live by yourself. But before you get discouraged, remember that living with a roommate in an apartment is different than living in a dorm. For one, you don’t have to share a bathroom with the entire floor, and two, if you can find an affordable two-bedroom apartment, you’ll each have your own rooms.
Just make sure you choose your roommate wisely. The best “going-out buddy” does not always make for the best roomie. You’ll want someone who is clean and trustworthy, but also compatible with you. Unlike in the dorms, there’s no RA to help you settle disputes or arrange for a new placement. To avoid problems, discuss these 3 important roommate topics before you move in together, and follow these tips for splitting bills with roommates.
Finding an Apartment
You’ll likely start your apartment search online, but don’t simply settle for one that looks good in the photos. Plan to attend an open house or schedule a private tour. Make sure to choose a safe neighborhood and carefully map out the distance to your classes and job.
You’ll also want to find out what’s included in your rent. For instance, are parking and utilities included? If not, you’ll need to factor those costs into your monthly expense. Laundry is another consideration. In the dorms, you probably had a laundry room on your floor or in your building, but that’s not always the case in an apartment. If you’d rather not use a laundromat, check out Oak Park Apartments. Every building has laundry facilities and some apartments even have an in-unit washer and dryer.
Planning Your Meals
One of the advantages to living off campus is having a kitchen. It gives you the freedom to eat when and what you like, but it also comes with the added responsibility of shopping for and buying groceries, cooking and cleaning up. It can be tempting to dine out or just pick up take out, especially if you’re juggling classes, studying and a job, but too much eating out will land you in the poor house.
Rather than scrapping your meal plan altogether, find out if your school offers reduced options. For instance, signing up for a 5 meal-per-week plan will allow you to grab lunch or dinner on campus a few times each week, and give you a break from cooking without breaking the bank.
Furnishing Your New Place
Moving into an apartment or house requires a lot of spending on basic necessities, including a bed, dresser, sofa, desk, kitchen table and chairs. Not to mention pots and pans, plates, flatware and glasses. Splitting the costs with roommates can help, but it’s still a substantial out-of-pocket expense that you’ll need to plan for.
Remember, there’s no shame in hand-me-downs and garage sale finds, especially when you’re trying to save money, and don’t forget Craigs List Curb Alert and Facebook Marketplace. Renting furniture is another great option for college students. In fact, you can furnish an entire apartment in the Chicago area for as little as $99/month with a 12-month lease, and residents of Oak Park Apartments in Chicago, River Forest, Forest Park and Oak Park receive exclusive discounts from AFR Furniture Rental.
Looking for Student Apartments in Chicago & Oak Park IL?
Oak Park Apartments has more than 1,500 affordable apartments in Oak Park, Forest Park, River Forest and Chicago, with rents starting at $799. Choose from studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom apartments, many in beautiful historic districts and close to public transportation.