What to Expect When You Move Off Campus

I lived in Smith-Steeb my freshman year, so I had it pretty good. Super nice rooms, full service on-campus food options very close by, and an unlimited number of people to turn to if I needed help or advice. Don’t get me wrong, I love living off campus and I love my house now, but there are definitely times when living in the dorms seemed so much simpler.

When you live in a dorm, you pay a lump sum at the beginning of the semester to cover all of your food and housing fees, and that’s that. When you live off campus, you have to pay bills! It sounds crazy and way too adult-like, but it’s true.

Bills are definitely the worst part of living off campus. Now that you’re responsible every month not only for rent, but for gas, electric, cable/Internet and water, you need to be way better about managing your money and learning to budget. Here are some apps to help you.

Having to go grocery shopping and cook meals is also a big adjustment when moving off campus. You no longer have access to pre-made food whenever you want it (unless you get a commuter meal plan).

Doing your own grocery shopping seems great — you’re able to buy whatever food you want without your mom there to say no, but it’s really important that you are actually getting everything you need to maintain a healthy diet. Also, it is important to get things you know you can cook, and will actually eat. Here are some easy recipes to get you started.

The last thing I think is really important to consider before you move into your off-campus apartment or house in the fall is your relationship with your roommates. I got lucky. I met my current roommates on Facebook, when we all just needed a place to live, and now they are four of my best friends.

If you are living with people who are already your friends, it is important to work hard to keep that relationship in tact. Whether it’s about whose turn it is to vacuum the living room or who didn’t empty the dishwasher, there will be arguments in your home. It’s not always easy living harmoniously with several different people on different schedules.

But I can promise you, if you put in the effort to keep a happy environment in your house, it will definitely be worth it! A little work goes a long way, so it is important to just remember to pick up after yourself and remember that you don’t have any parents to clean up after you anymore.

Living off campus with four roommates has been the best experience I could have asked for. This article isn’t meant to scare anyone away! Just remember that with moving off campus comes a lot of independence, and you have to be prepared to seize it and make the most of it!

One last tip: buying a house pet is going to seem like the best idea you’ve ever had. Chances are, it’s not. Pets are a HUGE responsibility, so make sure you do all research necessary on the care for an animal, and make sure you talk to your landlord to see if pets are even allowed. Think before you adopt!

5 Things to Keep in Mind When Renting Off Campus

November, like every other month, is an exciting time at Ohio State. Between the semester starting to wrap up, Beat Michigan Week, and Thanksgiving, there’s plenty to do this month on and off campus. Something else that’s exciting, but can also be incredibly stressful, is figuring out where you want to live next year.

“But Andy!” you say, “I remember move-in day like it was yesterday.  And now you expect me to already think about where I want to live next year?!”

Well anonymous voice, the good news is that if you’re choosing to return to campus and live in a residence hall again, your housing contract isn’t even issued until second semester, so you have plenty of time to decide on specifics. However, if you want to live off campus, now is the time to start looking for housing. Most rental companies are already giving tours and signing leases, so it’s in your best interest to get started now. After all, you want plenty of options when looking for your dream apartment!

Here are five essentials to keep in mind as you begin your off-campus search.

1. Establish a Price Range (and Keep Utilities and Furnishings in Mind)

To many, price is the most important criterion when looking for an apartment or house. After all, college isn’t cheap, and housing is one of the most expensive things you’ll spend your money on besides tuition. Most leasing companies allow you to search properties by cost on their website, so determine the amount you’re willing to spend every month and begin your search from there. Remember, most landlords are going to ask you to sign a lease for a full year going through the summer, so take into account an extra three months rent if you’re going to move back home. Also, don’t forget about the less obvious fees such as monthly utilities and furnishing your apartment.

2. Figure Out Your Ideal Location

There are plenty of options in terms of location depending on what is most convenient for you. If you’re a business major, consider staying north so you don’t have to walk too far to get to your classes. If being close to the Chipotle on High Street is a deal-breaker, think about staying closer to south campus.  There are even rental locations far away from campus that are available if you don’t mind driving in or taking the bus every day! If you decide to go that route, factor in the cost of a parking pass if you plan to drive to campus.

3. Don’t Forget About Laundry!

As a student in a residence hall, all it takes to do laundry is loading up your BuckID and walking down to the laundry room. However, it’s not always that simple when it comes to off-campus housing. When you look at a house, don’t forget to check whether or not there’s a laundry hookup, a common laundry area, or no laundry at all. Chances are you won’t want to have to walk or drive to a laundromat where you’re going to have to pay a higher rate than campus laundry for every load.

4. Take Full Advantage of the USG’s Renter’s Guide

Every year, OSU’s Undergraduate Student Government publishes a Renter’s Guide that provides extensive data and reviews on most rental companies with properties near campus. The guide is based on student responses to questions on topics such as rental cost and how satisfied the student was with the property and landlord. This is undoubtedly the most reliable way to learn about different landlords in the area, and with it you can see a list to compare different realty companies.

5. Don’t Hesitate to Ask OSU Student Legal Services to Look Over Your Lease

A lease is a legal contract, so once you sign it you’re obligated to follow it and are bound to its terms for the stated length. This is probably one of the first, if not the first, legal contract you’ve ever had to sign — so you want to be absolutely sure you understand and agree with everything listed, such as whether or not the landlord can increase your rent during the year you’re leasing and whether or not you have to buy something like renter’s insurance. OSU Student Legal Services staffs trained legal professionals who are here to help you, and chances are you already paid for their services in your yearly tuition.

Don’t end up with a landlord like this!

3 Things to Do Off-Campus This Fall

Columbus is a city filled with so many activities and opportunities that there’s always something to do — especially this fall! To celebrate Ohio’s finest season, here is a list of my favorite fall activities to do off-campus.

One of my personal favorites is the Circleville Pumpkin Show. Just as the name suggests, this festival is all about the pumpkin! Try one of the many different ways that pumpkin can be used: from pumpkin brownies, to pumpkin funnel cake, to pumpkin donuts, and even pumpkin pizza!

There are so many different ways to enjoy pumpkins and the Circleville Pumpkin Show is definitely a must-see. Last year, my residence hall had free busing to the event, so definitely check explore whether any residence halls  or campus organizations are planning to make a trip out to the event.

My second favorite thing to do during the fall is to go apple picking. Lynd Fruit Farm in Pataskala, Ohio, is a wonderful place to visit! Many residence halls organize bus rides to the Lynd Fruit Farm from campus, so again, ask your residence hall or your RA if there are any planned trips to the farm.

Lynd Fruit Farm also has an 8-acre corn maze where you can step out of our world and begin an amazing adventure into a maze of mystery and intrigue! Apple picking is great way to celebrate the beginning of fall by hanging out with friends, taking some great pictures, and tasting some crisp, yummy apples.

Finally, another great event in Columbus is the HighBall Halloween Masquerade in the Short North. The one-night event is centered around a Costume Couture Fashion Show, followed by a street party, live art, electrifying stage performances, and a public costume contest. All the proceeds go to support the initiatives of the Short North Arts District.

Autumn is finally here, so let’s sit back, relax, and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate as we watch the leaves turn to pretty shades of fall.​ Happy autumn everyone!