You may have just spent the last four years in dorm rooms. Or maybe you lived off-campus with a friend or two in an apartment. Or maybe you commuted to school. In any case, with graduation approaching, it is time to start thinking about your living situation.
You may have already found a place to live, or you have decided you will move back home with your parents. But maybe you have not found somewhere to live yet, and you do not know the first thing about searching for an apartment. This process can be both intimidating and overwhelming.
Before you jump into the process of moving after college, you really need to stop and consider all of your options. In order to find the best place for you and your situation, you need to ask yourself questions like: What can I afford? Where do I actually want to live? Could I move back home? What do I need in an apartment or house? These types of questions are extremely important to consider before you sign a lease or purchase a home, so we want to lend you a hand in this process.
Below, you will find some helpful information about where to live, what your different options are, and how to start the process of finding somewhere to live after graduation.
Where to Live After Graduation
Figuring out where you want to live after graduation is not always a simple process. Even if you may know where you want to live, you may not be able to actually live there. There is a difference between where you want to live and where you actually can live, and that has a lot to do with your financial situation. Do you have a steady, well-paying job? How much do you owe in loan payments? What other expenses do you have?
The answers to these questions will determine where you can afford to live. As you search, note how much rent is for each listing. Can you afford to pay that amount each month? Here are a few other things you need to consider as you are deciding where to live after graduation.
- Roommates: You may have lived with roommates and/or housemates for the last four years. As you begin searching for a place to live after you graduate, you need to decide if you want to live with a roommate again. While the idea of living alone may sound very appealing to you, the rent for a single bedroom apartment may end up costing you more than a two- or three-bedroom apartment will. For that matter, when you have roommates, you could even consider the idea of renting a house, which will most likely provide you with more space to spread out. Splitting rent between yourself and roommates will help offset the cost of utilities, and you will be able to split up chores and errands.
- Jobs: For many recent graduates, it is very possible—and highly likely—that job opportunities will not be abundant in your current town or location. For others, that dream job just may not exist where they currently are. Both of these scenarios mean that your best option is to move to a new city where there are actually job openings. If you find yourself having trouble landing a job in your current location, then you might want to consider broadening your search to include other cities and towns. However, before you move to a new location, it is highly recommended that you actually have a job lined up so that you can afford a place to live and the costs of moving.
- Family and Friends: Your family and friends provide you with an incredible support system. Keep in mind that if you do decide to move, you will need to make new friends and contacts to build a support system for that location. You experienced this process before when you first went to school, but it rarely gets any easier. If you move, you may be even further from your family, and your friends may also move to many different locations. This can be a difficult transition, so you should consider moving to a location where some of your family or friends already live. For example, if some of your family has always lived a few states away, you might want to consider moving to where they are located so that you know at least some people in your new location. This will not be a possibility for everyone, and it is not the case for you, you should still let friends know of your moving plans. They could know someone living where you plan to move.
- Apartment or House: Most students spend a lot of time thinking about what their lives will be like once they graduate. Sometimes, the daydreams do not match the reality. You might have envisioned yourself in a big house, but that is probably not the best option for you, or the most fiscally responsible. You have just finished school, you probably do not have a lot of money saved up, you are looking for a job, and you have little to no credit. Purchasing a house is probably not the greatest idea. Renting an apartment is often more affordable and will allow you to save up money so that you can someday afford the home you want.
Moving Back Home
Moving back home after graduation is not a sign of failure. Rather, it is often the wisest decision you can make. Consider the cost of living coupled with your student loan payments. That is a good chunk of change. Add the fact that the job market is a little less than stable right now, and living with your parents again starts to look a little better. However, before you do decide to move back home, there are a few things you should do.
- Establish the Relationship: You obviously already have a relationship with your parents, but after four years of living with friends, only coming home for breaks, and learning a lot, that relationship has likely changed in some way. Before you actually move back home, you should sit down with your parents and discuss their expectations and your expectations. Rules tend to change as we get older, and you need to make sure you and your parents are on the same page.
- Rent: In some cases, your parents may want you to start paying rent when you move home. While your first instinct might be to complain about this, remember that you are moving into the adult world, and it is a good idea to get used to paying rent. Settle on an amount that is affordable and cost-effective for you and your parents. You can also offer to take on certain chores, like grocery shopping or pulling weeds, to help cover your living at home.
- Utilities: If your parents are charging you rent, then they might also decide to start charging for utilities like water, gas, and electricity. Again, you need to understand that you are an adult, and adults have bills to pay. However, be sure your utility bills are fair and that you are not paying more than your share. You also need to keep in mind that these are your parents, so they want you to succeed, and there is probably a valuable reason they are charging you utilities.
How to Find an Apartment or House
For those that have never gone through the apartment or house search before, the process can be a little intimidating. First, you have to find a place you like, visit it in person with the landlord, fill out an application, provide proof of income and other materials, and then you have to wait to hear from the landlord. Even after all of that, you may not end up getting the place you want.
To help you in the search process, here are a few things you need to consider along the way.
- Rent or Mortgage: How much can you afford when it comes to a monthly payment? Whether you decide to rent an apartment or purchase a home, you need to understand that you are going to have a monthly payment that you have to pay.
- Neighborhood: As you are looking at all of your housing options, you should think about the neighborhood that surrounds the place you will be living. Is it safe? Will you be comfortable living there? Are your neighbors noisy?
- Utilities: Along with your monthly rent or mortgage payment, you are going to have to pay for utilities. Typically, the bigger the place, the more the utilities cost. Keep these things in mind as you are shopping around for a place to live.
- Proximity: Besides the neighborhood itself, look up what is nearby. Is a grocery store close? How far is the place you work? Are there restaurants or shopping? Think about what you want to be close to before you decide on a place to live.