How To Inspect Your First Apartment

Now, it’s getting real!

You’ve found what looks to be a great apartment online. But, you have to see the place in person to understand if it’s the right place to live in for an entire year.

Unlike most dorm rooms, each apartment is unique and you need to know the right things to look for and questions to ask when the landlord or agent walks you through.

Here’s the easy way to get up to speed. Watch this video and you’ll transform into a well-seasoned apartment hunter in 4 short minutes.

How To Inspect Your First Apartment - Screengrab

Product Updates

Introducing: The JumpOffCampus Learning Center

We’ve been hard at work on the new JumpOffCampus Learning Center. We built the Learning Center for you, oh, intrepid apartment hunter.

It’s a one-stop-shop to help you search for, inspect, move in to and live in your first apartment.

We’ll be creating lots more videos and checklists to help you along the way.  So if there’s anything you’d like to learn about, just let us know.

Happy hunting!

Learning Center - Sceen Shot

Finances, Housing Advice, JumpOffCampus, Renting, Student Life

Get interest (AKA beer money) back on your security deposit!

Quick description: As a tenant, you’re entitled to interest paid on your deposits to your landlord. 

Why should I care?

As a renter, you probably had to put down a security deposit, right? And maybe last month’s rent, too. So that sucks. But you know what doesn’t suck? Beer. Burritos. And, uhm, books.

So good news: In Massachusetts, you’re entitled to get up to 5% interest on your deposits to your landlord. It’s all thanks to good old Chapter 186, Section 15B of Massachusetts general law.

In plain English

Here’s how it works, without the legal mumbo jumbo (sorry, pre-law geeks):

  • You give your landlord a deposit for last month’s rent and/or security deposit
  • At the end of the rental year, you get back the interest earned (because it’s like the deposit is still your money)
  • Interest can equal up to 5% of the total, or whatever the interest rate is at the bank where your landlord  deposited the money

For instance, if you ponied up $800 in last month’s rent, at the end of the year your slumlord is supposed to cut you a check. Assuming your landlord’s bank pays out 1% interest, that’s $8 you get back. AKA a free lunch. Or 20 lunches, if you count ramen.

Courses of action

What if your landlord doesn’t pay up within 30 days at the end of the year? You have a few options:

  • If you’re staying on as a tenant, you can deduct the amount from your next month’s rent.
  • If you’re done as a tenant, you get 3x the interest earned, plus court costs and attorney fees.

What to keep in mind

At the end of each rental year, keep a lookout for an interest check from your landlord. Or you could be missing out on a little extra cash that’s rightfully yours.



Givin’ it the ol’ college try? Ahem…

Well, the folks over at CollegeAtHome recently posted this incredibly interesting infographic about how (un)prepared college freshman actually are…

As it turns out, an alarming amount simply aren’t! And it’s leading to some really jarring statistics, like the fact that the US ranks 12th internationally in college attainment (40%), or that only 1 in 4 college freshman actually finish their first year. WHAT?!?

On a lighter note, definitely check out CollegeAtHome.com, an awesome resource for those interested in going to college or finishing their education, but that can’t physically attend due to illness, kids, work, etc. They’ll hook you up with an online education program, suited for you!


10 Off-campus Living Essentials

Well, the Mayans were wrong. You’re still here, and it’s time for you to prepare for a successful 2013 off-campus living experience. To avoid an apartment apocalypse, you’re going to need some essentials. You might not know exactly what you will need for the new year in your new place, so we have compiled a list of must-haves, starting with the fundamentals, and finishing with a few exciting add-ons.

1. A Couch
Don’t even bother moving into a place if you don’t have a couch, yet. Seriously. It’s more important than a bed. Your couch doesn’t need to be fancy. It doesn’t even need to seat that many people. It just needs to be there. It is the heart of the college household. Without it, you will be lost, because no one wants to hang out in a living room on lawn chairs.

Tip: Don’t get a “love seat.” They’re a waste of time, unless you’re an old lady.

2. Coffee table
Your couch is nothing without a coffee table. How good can your couch hang session be without somewhere to rest your drink? Try to get one that has storage underneath, that way you can keep some blankets, pillows, or other pass-out supplies in there.

Tip: Get some nice coffee table books to put on display. They always make for good conversation.

3. Iron and Ironing Board
There are ways to iron clothes without these two items, but it makes the chore even more painful than it already is. You’ve just moved into an off-campus apartment. Take advantage of the extra space and get yourself a nice, full-sized ironing set-up. #makemomproud

4. Flashlight
Two things are guaranteed: 1. You’re not a possum, because then you wouldn’t be reading this; 2. Your power will go out at some point. Be prepared to see in the dark by keeping at least one heavy-duty flashlight in your kitchen.

5. Plunger
Having a plunger in your bathroom is the best way to avoid a disgusting restroom catastrophe. Plungers may look ugly, but they’re worth the eyesore. Anything is better than an overflowing toilet. If you are concerned about your plunger’s appearance, get a plunger cover (a standard, plastic cover is ideal, since it will probably get dirty).  Holla target.com

6. Fire/CO2 Alarm
Your off-campus castle will be useless if it turns to toast. Protect your health and belongings by installing these, wherever necessary. Also, it’s against the law to go without them.  Yo yo homedepot.com

7. Gas-Powered Blender
This thing will change your life. It’s the monster truck of blenders, and you can use it anywhere: the kitchen, the backyard, the quad, the library (not recommended)—anywhere! The best part about this blender is that your party will be remembered for having great drinks and badass appliances. Do it kegerator.com


8. Nerf Weaponry
Trust us. Build an arsenal of Nerf guns in your home. Nothing gets the blood flowing in the morning like a styrofoam skirmish among housemates. Also, Nerf guns are surprisingly effective for flirtation purposes. Shooting your crush with a Nerf dart is the real-life equivalent of the Facebook “poke,” and it will yield better results.

9. Inflatable Punching Bag
Mad at your professor? Take it out on the bag. They probably sell one that looks like him, too. Also, it’s cheaper than therapy, and way more fun.

10. Gorilla Mask
Any scary mask will do, really. Nothing beats scaring the hell out of your roommate, and there will be plenty of opportunities in 2013.

Live it up #offcampus

New Year's Eve
JumpOffCampus, Student Life

Where to Party New Year’s Eve 2012

Party your way into 2013.
All it takes to have a great New Year’s Eve is close friends, the right attitude and of course, a place to party.  So, JumpOffCampus has got you covered with some party spot ideas in New York City and Boston.

Places to Party in Boston:

  • Hampton Beach: New Hampshire. Fill a car with BFFs, head just a couple of hours of north from the Colleges of the Fenway and checkout a killer fireworks display
  • First Night:  About 1 million partiers hit up this gig. 1,000 artists in 200 performances and exhibits fill 35 indoor and outdoor venues all over Beantown. #legit @FirstNight
  • Foxwood’s Casino: An epic dance party that meets all needs, with one of the clubs inside doing a retro Studio 54 theme for the night, and Shrine, also held within Foxwoods. Touted as “The sexiest dance party in New England”
  • Bright Night in Providence, RI.  Known for being the loudest, encouraging partygoers to make as much noise as possible to bid the year farewell.  Just a stone’s throw from @salveregina and @URINews
  • The Gatsby Mansion: Decedent as it sounds, this party, which harkens back to the themes of the classic book, is all about class and sass. Though expensive to attend, it is said to be wholly unforgettable.  Follow @TheGreatestBar in Boston

Place to Party in New York City:

  • New Year’s Eve party at Webster Hall:  A dance party to end all dance parties, with multiple floors and rooms, undulating with beats and bodies
  • Ball drop in Times Square: Totally the most famous of all the New Year’s Eve parties. The place you have to tell your kids that once went. Heck, maybe your ‘rent will catch you on the tube
  • Lair Lounge: While this scene is more Soho than city, just the fact that you get to party in a lounge that looks like an old, French train, all while hearing the best live sets from local DJ’s, is a one of a kind experience that shouldn’t be missed
  • See Jay Z and Coldplay perform together at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn. These two did a mash up of the Coldplay song Lost, with Jay spitting verses on the song. Expect that and more at the must-attend show
  • The Black and White Masquerade Ball at Soho Grand. About as far on the other spectrum as Times Square, this “masks are mandatory” ball has tons of social media hype

Party hard dudes and dudettes.  Be sure to pre-game.  Then get weird and wild.
New Year’s Day is meant for sleeping off damage.

Apartment Hunting, College Planning

The Skinny on Roomies

Shacking up with roommates can be either as fun as summer camp or as bad as the worst moments of Jersey Shore.  It’s good to lay out the pros and cons of taking on roommates before putting your name on the dotted line.

Pro: Cha-Ching!
The more bodies in the room, the lower everyone pays individually for rent.  You boost your buying power and can live in better digs for a lower price if you get roommates.  The savings just keeps coming, including on utility bills, groceries, furniture, and other apartment-related expenses.  According to the Boston Globe, a two-bedroom apartment in the Back Bay now rents for $2,857 a month; in Jamaica Plain, for $1,536. 

Con: “Dude, I’m broke.  Can you hit me up next week?”
Everybody paying their share sounds great in theory, but in practice you might have to browbeat your roommates to get the bills paid.  Get stuck with a deadbeat roomie and you could end up evicted.  Definitely a bummer!

Pro: Pitching in
Nothing sounds sweeter than realizing it’s not your turn to do the dishes.  If everyone does their bit, there’s more time to play.  And when you bring someone home, you can blame the dirty dishes on your roommate, so you don’t look like a complete slob.

Con: “There’s mold on your dishes, man.”
Your roomie might have been raised in a barn, and have a problem with keeping things clean.  You might find yourself fuming while you’re scrubbing a roommate’s breakfast bowl before you can have dinner.

Pro: Instant Party?
No more lonely Friday nights.  You always got someone to watch a show with, or complain to.

Con: “Dude, privacy, please?  I’m in the bathroom.”
With a roomie, you are never alone.  Things can get awkward quick if they’re bringing someone home every night while you’re cramming for a Pre-Calc. exam.  With a roommate, you lose your fortress of solitude forever.   But then again, how much privacy do you have in a dorm like Warren Towers at BU?

The Lowdown:
Picking the right roomie makes all the difference.  Make sure you get someone who’s responsible and compatible before you start to find an apartment.

JumpOffCampus, Student Life

Stop the Spam!!! You heard us.

As with other established apartment listing sites & services, we’ve finally graduated to a new level of popularity… as a target for scammers. Sometimes it’s a realtor misrepresenting themselves or one of their properties. Other times, it’s someone posing as a student asking about the apartment, or even less legit, about you.

Yes, it’s unfortunate, but we’ve taken several measures to educate our users and also implemented functionality to more quickly identify potential spammers and block them from causing any more havoc.

SO…. how do we do it? We created functionality where messages received on the site can be marked as spam.  Once a message is marked as spam, it is put into a queue where we look at the messages and block users, if necessary. Often times, blocking is unnecessary as the message is actually from a student and an overzealous, click-happy landlord decided to lay down the law, but better to be safe then sorry!!!

Here are a couple more “pro” tips on how to avoid scams, and also what to do if you do encounter one:

  1. Make sure any messages you reply to are legitimate.  Use common sense. Detailed descriptions of who they are often help but could be signals that they’re hiding something. If they look like they are covering up something, then they most likely are.
  2. If a listing looks too good to be true, then it probably is.  If there is a brand new super nice apartment in an awesome area for significantly less rent then usual in the area, it could be someone trying to grab your attention with a fake apartment listing so that they have your contact information for other listings. We call this a “bait and switch.”
  3. Don’t EVER send anyone money without proper due diligence.  If someone says they have a money order and want you to cash it and send a portion of the money back, it’s NOT legit. Scammers often send fake money orders, have you cash them and send them a portion of the money back before you realize you never actually got any money in the first place because the money order was fake.
  4. Do not give out any information.  There is no reason any landlords or sub-lessors should be asking for identifying information such as a social security number or bank account information. If you are being asked for this information, it is likely not legit.
  5. Mark any suspicious activity as spam using our new feature.  You can even do this directly from the email alerts you are sent.
  6. Contact us if you feel there is something we should know about. We welcome your feedback and want to make the site the best resource for students out there.  The only way we know how to make improvements is from feedback from our users.  We’re always looking for ways to make improvements so send us any questions, feedback or concerns to help@jumpoffcampus.com. We’re looking forward to them!

Alas! The goal of this post isn’t to scare you, rather we want to educate our users on the issue and how to best handle the situation. Believe us, there are PLENTY of awesome apartments and really good deals on our site, but it’s good practice to be careful!

Check out a previous blog entry of ours for more spam info & stories.

As always, let us know if you have any feedback. And to all that have graduated this past week or so, best of luck to all of you! (P.S. don’t forget to like our Facebook page, and also check out our contest ending at the end of May!  You don’t want to miss out on chances at free TVs for next semester’s apartment)!

Housing Advice, Renting

Providence renters beware!

A warning was release by the Rhode Island state attorney general to watch out for a new scam on craigslist. Most of the scams we hear about here at JumpOffCampus are one of two scams. Realtors often promote fake listings in order to generate more leads for their current stock, wasting students’ time. The other common scam is the standard craigslist one: a scammer pretends to be renting a property or sublet, and “accidentally” sends too much money for the first month’s rent in the form of a fake money order.

This new scam, however, involves pretending to be a property owner looking for tenants. When renters inquire, they are asked for additional information, including social security numbers, full names, and addresses. The scammer then uses this information to steal their identity, making purchases and signing up for credit cards.

So watch out, students! (Or just stay on JumpOffCampus, of course) The original boston.com article is here:

JumpOffCampus, Student Life

And the award for Best Sublet posting goes to…

I wanted to highlight a hilarious sublet posted by one of the Brown students on our site. The pictures are obviously flyers he made, and I can only hope that Providence and Brown campus are covered in them:


For this noble pursuit, he certainly deserves some more interest. Somebody sublet this place!