Housing Advice, Student Life

96 square feet?!? What is a college student to do?

Especially as a freshman, it is hard to know exactly what to expect when you’re moving into the dorms.  This is perhaps not only the first time you’re moving away from home, but it is also the first time you are living with someone else. The first thing you will most likely consider is space; especially when you’re living with one, two, or even three other people, you will want to know just how much space will you have and how you will carve out a space that is all your own.

To find out exactly how much space students are given in their dorm room as freshmen, we recently conducted some research across 50 universities around the U.S.  What we found was that the average square footage universities provide per student is around 96 square feet.  That’s pretty small, given that the average mattress size for a dorm room (an extra long twin) is about 20 square feet.  However, perhaps what is most surprising is that, overall, square footage per student ranged from 132 square feet at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma to 50 square feet at Oklahoma City University.

You’re probably asking yourself, why would they give students so little space?  Well, let’s be honest here:  No school sets out thinking that they want their students to be crammed together like sardines.  Actually, many schools would rather that their students have a lot of space to live and to study within their dorm rooms.  It just works out that, in many cases, they just don’t have the room for it.  Especially if housing facilities are limited, universities can’t provide as much space as both they and their students would hope for.

So what can you do with the little space that you’re given?  We spoke with interior decorator and owner of Fresh Ideas by Sandy, Sandy Alger, about how students can better maximize the space they’re given and make it their own.

The first thing Sandy  suggests is maximizing storage space.  “I suggest using built-ins and shelving on the walls whenever you can.  Under the bed is great storage for the change of season, bedding, etc.”  She also suggests putting extra shelving in the bathroom (that is if you have your own bathroom), so that you can store more items.  By maximizing storage space, you can limit the clutter and mess you would have to deal with if you didn’t have a place to put everything.

Another suggestion Sandy has for students is multi-purposing furniture; she explains that you can turn kitchen tables into desks and coffee tables into storage.  If you have the opportunity to bring items like this, it is a great way to make your dorm room more like home and much more functional.

Alger also suggests bringing only the essentials with you.  Sandy says she lives by the saying, “Less is more,” and urges students to keep it “simple and inexpensive . . . think out of the box.”  She suggests browsing IKEA, and even thrift stores, for pieces and inspiration; photos, magazine prints and even your own artwork can serve as accents and make your room a little bit more “homey.”

However, the most important piece of advice Sandy gives to students is to be themselves when it comes to design.  “Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously.”  When it comes to making the space your own, you want to be able to express yourself and feel comfortable where you are; you want to be able to feel like you live there, and that this is a place (no matter how small) that you can call your home.

Housing Advice, Roommates

Roommate Sharing 101

If you’ve never lived with a roommate before, it can be slightly daunting.  It’s strange to think that you’ll be sharing a home with someone whom you may have never met before.  There is certainly a lot to navigate when it comes to understanding how you will share that space and the things in it.  This is why we’ve come up with some ideas on how you can make sharing with your new roommate(s) easy.

Sharing Space

In an article we read by Catherine Walsh at Suite101, she explains that allocating storage for each roommate in the kitchen, fridge and bathroom is a great start.  You will also want to discuss with your roommates how the common areas will be used.  Are they primarily for hanging out and relaxing, or are they for studying, or both?  When will you have quiet hours?  You want to be sure that you identify those things with one another before you begin the school year.

Another thing you want to identify are the restrictions and guidelines for guests and overnight guests.  This is often the biggest problem roommates face, so be sure to to give plenty of notice when overnight guests are staying and establish beforehand what the terms will be.  This includes how long they can stay, if and how they can use shared space and items.

Sharing Food and Other Items

Establish beforehand with roommate(s) what items you will be sharing and how you will label those that are not.  This is especially important if you plan to share food items like milk, eggs, and condiments, as you want to establish a plan for purchasing them.  To do this, you may even want to establish a schedule to determine whose turn it will be to buy the shared items and when.  This way no one feels like they are the ones buying the food for everyone all the time.

You may also want to establish how these items get used, so you don’t run out of them before your next shopping trip.  While you don’t want to be “nitpicky” about how everyone will use the ketchup, maybe you want to establish a rule that if you are the last one to use it when it runs out, then you are the one who has to replace it.

Sharing Chores

This often tends to be another major problem roommates face:  who will clean what and when?  Establish a timeline or a schedule for when cleaning and other chores will be done and who will be responsible for what.  Maybe you want to break it up by week and switch off duties, or maybe you would prefer breaking it up by month; that is up to you and your roommate to decide what would be fair.  However, you want to be sure that everyone has a task and that the tasks are broken up evenly, so no one feels like they are left with all the dirty work.

Sharing Expenses

This is another tough subject for most roommates.  Especially if you are sharing one lease and sharing utility expenses, it can get difficult when it comes time to make those payments.  Our suggestion is to sign your own lease, rather than sign one lease between all the roommates (if your landlord allows it).  This way you won’t be responsible to make up the difference if your roommate doesn’t pay their rent on time.

If you can’t sign your own lease, we suggest that you establish one person who will be collecting utility payments and establish a schedule for when they will be collected (before the bill is actually due).  You may even want to switch off whose duty it is to do this, so no one feels like they are the “bad guy” all the time.  You could even establish some penalties for when someone neglects to make their payment on time.  This way everyone has an incentive to make his or her payment on time.

In terms of splitting utilities, that can be tough to do.  Use the same strategy as you would with your rent payments.  Be sure that everyone makes their payments on time so one person isn’t stuck with the bill.

The key to roommate sharing is really just establishing house rules beforehand, and making sure that everyone is complying with them.  Overall, roommate sharing can be simple, just as long as you are considerate and are able to have open communication with one another.

Housing Advice, Renting

The REAL Cost of Renting

If you’re renting for the first time, you should be aware of what utilities you will have to pay, along with your monthly rent payment.  While some apartments have utilities included in the cost, others only cover some of the utilities, and some don’t cover any.  If you’re looking at apartments with either of the latter options, you want to know what those utilities will be and what they will cost.

Heat:  The three most common options you will have for heating will either be gas, electric, or oil.  The major difference between these three is that gas and electric heat will be billed monthly, while oil heat, in some cases, will be billed when the oil tank needs to be filled.  This means that you will be billed only once or twice to fill the tank, however, this bill will be reasonably large as oil is expensive.

One common misconception about oil heat is that it is the most expensive option of the three (oil, gas, electric).  This is actually false; according to an article we read by the U.S. Department of Energy, electric heat will actually tend to be more expensive, despite its high efficiency.  However, natural gas comes out to be the cheapest, as it is roughly three times less than oil heat.

While you don’t get much of choice when it comes to choosing your apartment’s heating system, you should be aware that, in many cases, your landlord may request that you keep the heat at a minimum temperature.  This is generally meant to prevent the pipes from freezing, however, this should be factored into your heating budget.

Water and Sewer:  In most cases your landlord will cover the bill, and may even factor this into your rent.  However, if they don’t cover this expense, there are some things you need to know.  First off, your water and sewer bill will come together on one bill and your average monthly cost will depend on the area in which you reside.  For example, according to the Boston Water and Sewer Commission, the average one family customer used about 180 gallons per day in 2012 and was charged around $73.70 per month.  While this price will not be the same for most states, in an article we read by Brett Walton at Circle of Blue, in 2010, rain-scarce regions actually had the lowest residential water rates and the highest water use.

Secondly, you also have to be aware that your water bill will depend on a lot of things, including how you pay the bill (does your landlord split the bill, do you pay per apartment, etc.) and how many people live with you.  You may want to factor in at least $100 per month if you live alone and about $50 per month if you live with roommates.  This way you can budget for those months where your water use was high.

Trash:  This is another expense that, in most cases, your landlord will cover.  However, if they don’t and you’re on your own, your monthly trash collection bill will depend where you are living and how many roommates you have.  For example, your bill may be around $50 if you are living in an apartment building.  If you’re renting an entire house, it may be a little higher.  This a very specific question, as it varies greatly from one town to the next, so this a good question to ask any potential landlord.

Electricity:  In an article we read at AverageElectricBill.org, your bill will depend on your consumption and the rate charged by your provider in kilowatts per hour.  The quality of your appliances will play into the average cost, as well as how often you use each appliance.

Like many of your other utilities, your state and your provider will determine your average rate.  For example, the Massachusetts Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs reported recently that the average bill for its residential customers was about $112 per month.   However, according to reports distributed by U.S. Energy Information Administration, average electric bills can range from $80 to $200 per month, depending on where you live.  This is why it’s good to ask your landlord what is the average monthly cost of electricity for your apartment.

Internet/Cable:  If you’re a student, cable may be a luxury but Internet is a necessity if you hope to do your schoolwork at home.  You’ll have to see first what your apartment is wired for, as some units are only wired for one particular service provider (Cox, Verizon, Comcast, etc.).  While each provider offers different packages, the basic packages will run from about $50 to $70 per month.  In some instances you may find that one person in the building has purchased an Internet package and is willing to share the connection with others for a lesser monthly payment.

You will also need to factor in other added costs associated with Internet and/or cable.  In an article we read by Amy Hoak at Marketwatch by the Wall Street Journal, she explains that you want to be sure to factor in costs associated with set up.  Many providers will actually tack on a cost to set up an Internet and/or cable service in your place.

In terms of paying utilities, the most important thing is to understand how they will be billed, explains Hoak.  You want to ask your landlord what utilities you will need to cover, and how the bill will be distributed.  You’ll also want to ask what the average prices will be per month so that you can get a better idea of how much money you should factor into your budget for those utilities.  You may even want to ask them what the highest price they’ve paid before so you can prepare.  The main thing is not being afraid to ask for help when you need it.  It’s better to ask a lot of questions now rather than not having trash pickup, having no water, no electricity, and getting to winter and not having heat.

Other articles we referenced:


Housing Advice, Renting

How to Make Yourself a More Attractive Tenant

The deadbeat tenant:  perhaps the most-feared in the landlord community.  This person is the tenant who never pays their rent on time, or at all, and will often leave their landlord with financial and/or physical damages that the landlord will have to take care of.  It is often for this reason that landlords will place prospective tenants through a rigorous screening process.  It certainly makes sense; you wouldn’t want to have to pay thousands of dollars in damages that were caused by someone else!

Well for those of you who consider yourselves good tenants, you have to let yourselves shine.  However, it can often be hard when the process is so rigorous and there may be plenty of other tenants out there who claim to possess the same qualities as you.

The first thing you want to consider is a credit check.  Often landlords will conduct a credit check on each of their prospective tenants, especially if they’ve experienced deadbeat tenants in the past.  For college students renting on their own, this can be an issue as many students either have bad credit or no credit at all.

In an article we read by Kay Miranda on eHow.com, she explains that you should include a cover letter with your application that honestly explains your credit situation.  You will also want to include information in this letter about what would make you a good tenant, and explain that you will be willing to work with the landlord to make sure they are comfortable with the situation.  Miranda explains that this could be agreeing to pay via direct deposit, or paying a higher security deposit.  You will also want to include any personal references that could vouch for your reliability and responsibility.

Many landlords will also request a face-to-face meeting or interview with you.  You want to prepare for this meeting like you would for a job interview.  You should be prepared to answer all potential questions they could ask, including those related to your finances and credit history.  You should be open and honest with them about this, as it is important to be honest with them and address their concerns.  You should be aware that your reactions, your demeanor, and your appearance will all play a role in determining whether the landlord chooses you or not.

As with any interview like this, you should also be upfront regarding your concerns.  Be prepared with questions that you may have for the landlord.  Their answers to these questions will also help you to gauge their reaction to you, as well as how willing they will be to work with you.

Overall, it is important to develop a good rapport with all of your previous and future landlords.  While the most important part of being a good tenant is complying with the terms of your lease, it is also important to keep the premises clean, tidy, and well kept.  This is because the way in which you maintain the space and leave it when you move out will prove to your current and any potential landlord (should your previous landlords give you a reference) that you are a good tenant.

Another major part of being a good tenant is keeping open communication with your landlord in regards to any repairs, damages, questions, or concerns that may arise.  In another article we read on eHow.com, they suggest also keeping a record of all of your correspondence with your landlord, just in case a problem should arise.  It is always important to let your landlord immediately (and in writing) about any problems or maintenance that must be taken care of.

It is relatively simple to make yourself a more attractive tenant in the eyes of potential landlord.  All it takes is being open, honest, and demonstrating responsibility and reliability.   Just be sure to address concerns they may have regarding your credit history and any other concerns they may have.  Keep in mind that fostering good relationships with any landlord you have cannot only provide you with a great reference for any potential landlord, but it will make your renting experience that much better.

Other articles we referenced:





Budget-Friendly Ideas, Housing Advice, Renting, Student Life

Finding Furniture For Cheap

If you’re renting for the first time and your apartment is unfurnished, you may be wondering how on earth you’re going to be able to furnish the entire place on your own.  As a student it’s especially difficult because you’re working with a smaller budget.  However, you do have options.  That’s why we’ve come up with some ideas to help you you aren’t breaking the bank when it comes to furniture shopping.

Ask the previous tenants.  If you get a chance, ask the previous tenants if they would be willing to leave some of their furniture for you.  It’s certainly worth a shot to ask them about specific pieces you would want and offer them an amount you would be willing to pay for each item.

Ask you friends and family.  It’s always worth it to ask your friends and family if they have extra furniture that they would be willing to sell to you.

Check online.  At JumpOffCampus, we offer a “Classifieds” section that will help you find furniture.  Just check your area and see what people have posted.  To check out this section of our site, go to http://www.jumpoffcampus.com/marketplace_listings .

You can also rent furniture online.  Currently we are now offering a deal on our resources page for our New York metro users to rent furniture from Cort Furniture for 10% off.  To check out this deal, just check out our website!

Check local yard sale listings and flea markets in your area.  You never know what you’ll find when you visit a yard sale or a flea market, but you may just find the piece of furniture you’re looking for at a significantly cheaper price.


Don’t pick things up off the street.  Although it may seem like a great deal, you may end up with more than you bargain for.  Let’s just say that you get what you pay for, and at Free.99 you’re getting just that.  In most cases, it will probably be broken, damaged, or it will be carrying some unwanted guests (i.e. roaches, mice, bed bugs, etc.).

Any pest is a definite concern when you’re picking up used furniture, especially free furniture you find on the side of the road.  Our advice is to just leave that freebie alone.  In the end, it will potentially save you more money . . . and a huge headache.  Especially with bed bugs, they are extremely difficult to get rid of once you have them, and they can come from the cleanest of environments.  If you don’t believe it can happen, just check out this article from Suncoast News.

Inspect ALL used furniture for insects and pests BEFORE you bring it into your home.  As we’ve mentioned previously here and in our post about bed bugs, you need to be especially careful that you aren’t bringing any unwanted guests into your home.  Be sure to use proper inspection procedures to make sure you’re safe.

Inspect ALL furniture for broken or damaged parts BEFORE you pay for it.  This one is pretty self-explanatory, but you don’t want to pay for something you can’t use.  You want to inspect anything before you purchase it to make sure that nothing is broken or appears poorly constructed.  In an article we read by Laura Coffey at Today.com, she explains that you should be sure to inspect all the furniture IN PERSON before you purchase it.  That way you can be sure you are getting what you are paying for.

Plan ahead for transportation.  According to Coffey, you want to be sure to prepare to transport the piece before you purchase something.  This includes moving it from where you bought it and moving it into your place.  You may also want to consider how you’ll move it out when you leave.  Measuring is a great way to do this and to ensure that you aren’t buying furniture you can’t even get into your apartment.

Dear JumpOffCampus..., Housing Advice, Student Life

READER QUESTION: How much money can you expect to spend on groceries per month in Boston?

It’s slightly difficult to answer this question with one number because what people buy, where they buy it, and when they buy it all plays into the equation. While our co-founders Mark and Kyle (who have lived in Boston) explained that you could get away with spending $100 per month, it may be a little difficult. Instead, we’ve put together some tips for you on how to find the cheapest alternatives and how you can limit your costs.

From our experience, if you’re trying to limit your costs, you may want to choose grocery stores that don’t sell only organic products. While we aren’t hating on organic eating, if you’re a college student trying to live on a very strict budget, it may not be the most price-friendly option.

We also suggest choosing stores that offer the best deals in their weekly circulars and coupons. While coupon clipping may not be something you considered before, it will save you a significant amount of money in the long-run. Some stores that offer some great deals include places like Stop and Shop, Shaw’s, and Market Basket (a chain of stories specific to Massachusetts and New Hampshire). Memberships to stores like Sam’s Club and BJ’s will also help you to save money. You can split the membership fee (only about $50 a year) with your roommates, and you can buy items like toilet paper, paper towels, and bottled water in bulk, which will help limit your costs when you go to the grocery store.

Another way to limit your spending is by sharing the cost with a roommate. If each of you has your own carton of milk, it will end up taking up a lot of space in your fridge. Save space and money by splitting the cost of items like milk, eggs, and condiments that you can all share.

You can save a lot of money by putting together a budget of what you want to spend each week. You will probably have to do shopping about once a week, especially if your buying items like fruit and vegetables, but you can break down those trips into 2 larger and 2 smaller trips each month. Every other week you can make a larger shopping trip where you stock up on nonperishable items (canned soups, canned vegetables) and other items that won’t spoil in 2 weeks. In between those trips, you can make a smaller weekly shopping trip and buy just perishables and other items you’ve run out of. You could easily set yourself a budget of about $25-30 during those smaller trips and $100 during those larger trips. This way your total for the month is about $250. You could even limit that further by buying store brand foods, and buying only the essentials.

We hope this helped to answer your question. If you have any other questions or suggestions for any topics you would like us to cover on our blog, feel free to drop us a line at advice@jumpoffcampus.com!

Budget-Friendly Ideas, College Planning, Finances, Housing Advice, Student Life

Cutting College Housing Costs

College can be expensive; as we’ve seen in the news recently, there are a lot of students struggling once they leave school to pay back their loans.  This is why as Mark Kantrowitz explained in our College Financial Planning series that it is important to try to cut costs where you can.

Campus housing may be one of these expenses that you consider to cut when you’re evaluating the cost of attendance. In an article we read by Emily Driscoll at Fox Business, she explains that these costs can place a great deal of financial stain on families.  In fact, according to College Board reports, the average cost of room and board for four-year public universities is $8,887 and $10,089 for private schools.  This is why we’ve put together a list of different options for students and their families looking to cut housing costs and save some money.

Compare housing packages.  According to Driscoll, if you’re looking for cheaper on-campus housing options, you may want to look at residence halls with fewer amenities or those that are further away from campus.  We also suggest choosing housing where you share a room, as this will also reduce the cost.

Choose the meal plan that fits your needs.  In another article we read by Kim Clark and Beth Braverman at CNN Money, they suggest choosing a meal plan option that fits your habits.  Often students won’t eat at the dining hall for every meal; they will either just go without eating or eat a light snack for some of their meals.  Therefore, it can be a waste of money if you’re not eating at the dining hall for those meals.  If you never eat breakfast or you don’t each much, you may want to choose a cheaper plan, as this will reduce your room and board costs.

Work in a co-op.  According to Driscoll’s article, many universities offer co-op programs that allow students to receive reduced housing costs while they work a service job on campus. If you’re looking to save money, it is certainly worthwhile to check out your school’s website to see if they offer a program like this.

Check out off-campus options.  In some cases, off-campus housing may be less expensive than on-campus options.  Especially if you live with roommates, it may help to reduce the cost of housing while you’re in school.  While your school may not live off-campus during your freshman and sophomore year, you may want to evaluate your off-campus options your junior and senior year.

However, when you are evaluating these options, it is important to factor in the cost of food, gas/transportation costs, and utility costs into the price of off-campus housing.  You should then contrast this to what you would spend living in the dorms and eating in the dining halls.  This will give you a better sense of how they differ.

Live at home.  Perhaps the most budget-conscious decision could be to live at home, if you live close enough.  That way there won’t be an added room and board cost to factor in.  The only added expense you will really have here is gas or transportation costs.

Housing Advice

Reducing Home Allergens

While allergies symptoms can range from mild to severe, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, approximately 60 million Americans suffer from asthma and allergies.  Approximately 40 million suffer from indoor/outdoor allergies as their primary allergy.  The most common triggers being trees, grass and weed pollen, mold, dust mites, cockroaches, and cat, dog, and rodent dander.   Food allergies account for approximately 6% of allergy suffers, and the most common triggers are milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.

If you have allergies, you may have experienced sniffling, sneezing, watery eyes, headaches, or worse.  It can be a very unpleasant experience when you your allergies flare up.  While there isn’t much you can do to rid yourself completely of your allergies, there are certainly some simple things you can do around your home that will help to reduce allergens.

Use an allergen impermeable cover to enclose your mattress, box spring, and pillows.  In an article we read by Mikki Hogan at The Allergy Spot, the first area you want to consider is your bed and your bedroom.  Dust and dust mites found on your bed can be a major trigger for your allergy symptoms.  These covers will help trap any allergens that may be on your mattress, and will prevent them from being inhaled.

Wash sheets, pillowcases and blankets in hot water at least once per week.  Hogan explains that hot water will kill all dust mites and removes allergens from the fabrics.  By accompanying this with hypoallergenic fabrics, you can greatly reduce the potential for your symptoms to flare up.

Vacuum floors regularly.  By vacuuming carpeting and other flooring, you can greatly reduce dust and other allergens that can accumulate.  You can use dry carpet cleaners to further remove allergens.  According to Hogan, shampooing carpets can leave residual moisture than can increase dust mite growth.  You may also want to consider using a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

Dust regularly.  Be sure to dust every area that could potentially collect dust.  You may also want to consider clearing any clutter or messes regularly to prevent the collection of dust.

Wash curtains and blinds monthly.  In another article we read by Clean Air Plus, when purchasing curtains, you will want to consider washable fabrics so that you can wash them safely without damaging them.  You will also want to take a clean washcloth and wipe down window blinds.  Both curtains and blinds are primary locations for dust collection.

Regularly vacuum and clean furniture.  Ensuring that couches, tables, shelves, etc. are regularly cleaned will also help to greatly reduce dust and other allergens.  Be sure to remove the appropriate cleaners for woods and fabrics.  Vacuuming can be especially helpful on cloth-based furniture.

Regularly clean shower and tub areas.  Because these areas are generally damp, they can become breading grounds for mold and mildew.  To ensure that mold and mildew do not build up, regularly clean these areas with the appropriate cleaners.

Avoid opening windows when pollen is active.  This is pretty self-explanatory, but this will help ensure that no pollen gets in and it will decrease the number of allergens inside your home.

Housing Advice

Apartment Security

In our experience, locking the door for college students seems to be a problem sometimes.  We’ve heard many stories when we were in college of students getting their possessions stolen simply because they or their roommates had left the door open or unlocked.  This is why we decided to give you some tips to make sure that it doesn’t happen to you.

Gauge the safety of the area you live in.  You can check local police logs to see where crime is occurring in your area.  If you notice someone has been robbed only one block over from your apartment, you will want to be especially careful.  In an article we read at My First Apartment, they suggest using websites like Everyblock which will also help you to gauge the relative safety of your neighborhood.   They also advise you to be aware of suspicious people who may be casing your apartment, and to consider your risk tolerance.  This means that if you know you live in an area that is a little sketchy, you understand that there will be risks.

Make sure your apartment and your building has working locks.  You want to make sure that the locks to your apartment and to the building work before you start moving in your things.  Be sure to examine the locks to ensure that nothing seems to be broken.  Then you’ll want to lock yourself out (with someone still inside who can let you in), and try to break in (without damaging anything).  You want to make sure that you can’t break into your apartment.  If you notice anything, or you find it to be really easy to get in, you’ll want to let your landlord know immediately.

If you don’t have a deadbolt, ask your landlord to install one.  In another article we read at My First Apartment advises that this is the most important piece of security for an apartment.  Deadbolts are much more difficult to pass, as they require a significant amount of force to be opened.

Don’t let people into your apartment or your building who you don’t know.  You should not open the door for anyone you don’t know.  Before you open the door, it is important to ask who it is.  You should also beware not to let anyone into your building who you don’t know.  If someone approaches you looking to get into your apartment building because they “locked themselves out” and you don’t know them, you shouldn’t let them in.

Be sure to store important and expensive valuables out of sight and in not-so-obvious places.  In one of the articles we read, they suggest that you make sure that you store things out of sight so that if someone were to break into your home, that they may not be able to find all of your jewelry in one obvious spot.  You may also want to be sure that no one can see the giant flat screen sitting in your living room.  Especially if you have a first floor apartment, you’ll want to make sure that you draw the blinds so that no one can see in and that you may have added security on your windows and doors (i.e. bars or extra security locks).

Talk with your roommate(s) beforehand about security.  Although it sounds a little strange, you want to know beforehand if your roommate never locks the door.  Sit down together and discuss how the security for your place should be handled.  Can you leave the door unlocked if you just ran outside for 5 minutes?  Can you leave the door unlocked when you’re home?  Whose responsibility is it to make sure the door is locked at night?  You’ll also want to talk about the aforementioned items we’ve listed here and develop a strategy as to how you and your roommate(s) can prevent your pad from becoming an easy and obvious target.

Cooking, Housing Advice

Starter Pantry Essentials Checklist

When you’re moving off-campus for the school year, there are a lot of things to consider.  If your living in an unfurnished pad, in particular, there are a lot of things you have to remember to pack.  While it’s important, I’m sure many of you may forget the important essentials you’ll need to stock your pantry with when you move in.  It’s not like at home where your mom always had some chicken noodle soup in stock.  You’re on your own!

Knowing from our experience, we wanted to make sure you weren’t left out in the cold if you didn’t get to go grocery shopping one week.  Thanks to a couple articles we read at MyFirstApartment.com, we’ve come up with a list of things that every college student living off-campus needs to keep themselves fed.

  • Canned beans
  • Canned soups
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Pasta sauce
  • Spices (you at least want garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper)
  • All-purpose flour
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Vegetable oil (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar
  • Dried pasta
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Mustard
  • Ketchup
  • Coffee/Tea
  • Cereal
  • Honey
  • Hot cocoa
  • Rice

The articles we referenced: