If you’re one of the 51,000+ students in attendance at UT Austin, it’s likely that at some point throughout your college career, you’ll be putting a signature down on the lease of your first apartment. And while off-campus housing certainly has its perks, there are a number of factors at play that you’re unlikely to find in association with dorm living.
Going into a UT Austin apartment search prepared and confident will make all the difference in ensuring that you find a location best suited to your needs and wants. More importantly, putting in the work and research upfront will help you to avoid unwanted headaches as the school year unfolds.
When searching for UT Austin apartments, keep this ultimate guide for first-time renters at the ready.
Budget for What You Can Afford
The joke about eating nothing but Ramen in college is as widespread as it is for a reason.
More often than not, while away at school, you’re figuring out how to live in Austin on a budget. Even with a part-time (or full-time) job, the costs associated with tuition, books, travel, and social activities add up fast! The last thing you want to throw into that mix is an apartment you can’t possibly afford month-to-month.
Monthly rent payments aside, you’ll want to gather as much information as you can with regards to every expenditure associated with apartment rental.
- Furniture needs
- Laundry costs
- Transit costs between your apartment and classes on campus
Calculate loose projections or start positive budgeting habits early using a college budget template. If it helps prior to searching, reverse engineer the process by establishing a range of rent prices you’d be best capable of managing as a college student. That way, you can cut out the possibility of disappointment upfront by narrowing your search parameters to only display buildings that fall within your preferences.
Rolling the dice on cost is one area you want to avoid when it comes to choosing your first UT Austin apartment. After all, slacking on payments once the lease is signed can end up having a negative effect on both your short-term wallet and long-term credit.
Understand Roommate Legalities
If you’re flying solo in the search for your first-time apartment, take the reins and run the show to your heart’s content. If, on the other hand, you plan on subsidizing costs with roommates, it’s important to choose wisely. A roommate is more than just a friend you live with: they’re an individual you choose to a make a contractual agreement with.
Take a long hard look at whether any roommate you bring into the fold is both trustworthy and capable of contributing to rent and utilities on a monthly basis. On the lease, they’ll be entitled to their fair share of the decision-making regarding your apartment, so you want to make sure this individual is willing to fairly take your concerns and wants into account, as you should also do for them.
Outside of the legalities, you’ll also want to evaluate whether or not a prospective roommate’s lifestyle aligns with yours. If they’re a partier and night owl, and you’re solely focused on studying and earlier bedtimes, the combination may result in unwanted friction.
Be mindful and open with your discussions to ensure expectations are properly set and agreed upon from the start.
Ask the Right Questions
Before signing the lease for your UT Austin apartment, take the time to ask the right questions. They could be as simple as:
- How much is the rent? When is it due and what forms of payment are accepted?
- How much is the security deposit?
- Are utilities included?
- Are pets allowed?
- Where’s the laundry?
- Is parking available?
To more complex, forward-thinking questions like:
- What’s the turnover rate in the building?
- Can I paint the apartment?
- Is there on-site maintenance?
- What are the conditions for breaking a lease? Is subletting allowed?
The readiness of a landlord in answering these questions will not only provide insight into the state of the apartment itself, but also the landlord’s capabilities and eagerness in managing concerns.
Do a Walkthrough of UT Austin Apartments Before Signing a Lease
Before ever signing on that dotted line, take the time to do a walkthrough of the space. Most buildings will provide you with a checklist of sorts to go through. If not, create or download one yourself.
The purpose of a walkthrough is to free yourself from responsibility and potential future costs around damage to the apartment that may have happened before you became a tenant. This makes every last detail important, so err on the side of extensiveness when it comes to note-taking.
During this time, it might also be worth doing a mock commute from the apartment to your school. Be realistic about how long it takes and consider living off but near the UT Austin campus, if it proves to be too much of a hike.
Similarly, take stock of what’s around your building to consider if it’s worth the sacrifice on your commute time. For example, having a quality coffee shop nearby can be a bonus for late night study sessions.
Consider Renter’s Insurance
You never really know how valuable your material possessions are until the unthinkable happens. For this reason, it may be worth researching some basic renter’s insurance policies. If you have car insurance, you’ll likely be able to go through the same provider.
It’s important to understand renters insurance 101 with regards to what is and isn’t covered, however. For example, most policies will not cover costs associated with things like bed bugs. If not introduced by you, your landlord will be responsible for the financial burden, but be sure to distinguish between the two before making any final decisions.
As a first-time renter, it can be intimidating making the jump from dorms to UT Austin apartments. But even with zero previous experience to stand on, making the right choice for your living needs and wants comes down to knowledge. Plan ahead, do your research, and ask any and all questions necessary to leave you feeling confident with that final lease agreement.