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3 Common Mistakes Student Renters Make
Posted By: Becca Meyers on May 29, 2020

Moving into your own place and starting or going back to school can be an exciting yet stressful time. In the midst of starting classes and moving into a new state, city, or even country, there are a lot of opportunities to make mistakes when you’re trying to find hosing. Despite all this, lots of people have already gone through this stage in their life and we should all learn from their mistakes. So, in the spirit of learning from others, here are some common mistakes you should try to avoid.

Focus on One Semester at a Time

If you're just starting out in school, it's critical that you focus on more than one semester at a time. If you sign a lease in August and find in December that you need to transfer schools, a long term housing contract might put you in a pinch. If you sign up for a year, you're on the hook for 12 months of rent. If you pack up and walk away, you may have an eviction on your record. This can severely limit your renting options in the future and may even cause problems with your credit rating.

Before deciding and signing any contracts, it is important that students seek out a variety of rental options.

For some, it is better to get a short-term lease that is easier to change until you are sure about your future plans. If things go well and you're excited about your new place and classes next semester, contact your landlord or rental manager about extending the lease or simply find another property.

Remember to give them at least 30 days’ notice, so they can make the necessary arrangements. In some cases, your landlord may want to conduct an inspection before they extend. Know that this is not snooping; it's simply good business practice. Prepare for this by cleaning your apartment thoroughly and tidying up your belongings. You may be worried about your deposit if there is any damage, but your landlord is really on the hook for any repairs that need to be made. As an investor, they're just doing their job by inspecting the space.

Not Checking Out The Neighborhood

If you're moving to a new city, you may have rented your space online without knowing exactly what to expect. Once you get to town, you may find that you don't care for the neighborhood, or that there are other apartments that would better suit your needs. However, if you signed a 12-month lease, the landlord has no responsibility to let you out of it. This is another scenario where a short term or month-to-month agreement might be more suitable since moving will be significantly easier without any financial or contractual responsibilities.

Many things can come up during your school years. You may have agreed to live with a roommate who just doesn't work out. You might find someone else at school who's a much better fit. With short leases and flexible terms, both you and your landlord are protected from being stuck in a contract that will be hard to get out of. Carefully review your lease to make sure that if you do plan to move, you notify your landlord in a timely fashion. Know that they are also required to notify you if they plan to change the terms of the lease or require you to move.

Buying Too Much Too Soon

Too many students get to school with grandiose plans of outfitting their new dorm or apartment with the latest trends in interior design. Unfortunately, if the situation changes they are stuck having to move a bunch of furniture that might not even fit in another space. Instead of going on a shopping spree, spend some time in your empty apartment and focus on just what you need. Don't invest in anything so heavy you can't move it by yourself, except perhaps your bed.

If you're in a micro-apartment, get creative. Use magnets on the side of your refrigerator to hang kitchen towels, or store cooking tools there. Install a piece of pegboard to use as a jewelry hanger by your bed. Put up a portable wardrobe you can take with you and hang as many garments as possible. Use tote bags to hang socks and underwear, instead of investing in a dresser you'll have to sell at a loss later. Don't buy anything in the planning stages. Instead, get there, take detailed measurements, and work in the space until you know exactly what you need.


The easiest thing in the world to move is cash. Don't over-commit to anything in a new city and situation. Buy and sign depending on what you need, instead of what you want. Whether you’re excited or afraid of what’s coming next, be sure to learn from others’ mistakes and make the best of your new experience.

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