Throughout one’s college experience, there comes a time when students will make the decision to adjust to off-campus housing. Although this is an exciting experience, it can also be stressful and overwhelming, especially if you have no idea how to look for housing. Here are some off-campus house hunting tips to assist you in this process, and to help you to get the most bang for your buck in the Binghamton area.

Tip #1: Don’t leave housing for the last minute.

It’s normal to start looking into off-campus living as early as a year in advance. There are thousands of students attending Binghamton University, and each year more and more students make the switch to off-campus living. Being ahead of the game always gives you an advantage and more options to choose from. The process of finding housing is also much less stressful when it’s not rushed.

Tip #2: Don’t settle on the first place that you find.

One thing to know about housing in Binghamton is that there are definitely some hidden gems. There are always well-known, obvious places to look at, however if you’re looking for something a bit more low-key, just keep searching. It’s also always good to have multiple choices in case one option falls through. Always have a backup plan and make sure to adequately look into multiple properties.

Tip #3: Always research the area that you plan to live in.

While a lot of people’s main priorities may be to find a place that is affordable and within their budget, the quality of housing should also be considered. Often, students will find an apartment or house with surprisingly low rent, and while this may seem like a steal, other factors should be researched. Remember to always look into the area of the property, as well as at crime rates. Finding a place with low rent is great, but it should also be a necessity to feel safe as you are coming and going from your future home.

Tip #4: Choose a place that fits your transportation situation.

A major difference between living on and off campus is that off-campus living requires the student to commute to school. Some extremely significant factors to consider when choosing off-campus housing depend heavily on how you plan to commute. For example, students with vehicles should make sure that their housing has a parking lot or garage that is easily accessible and not too expensive. Students without vehicles should make sure that there are nearby bus stops in order to get to campus or access some other way of getting there.

Tip #5: Don’t be afraid to negotiate.

As a college student, the search for off-campus housing may be your first time bargaining prices with a seller. Don’t be shy! If you feel that the price of an apartment or house should be lower or that certain fees should be accounted for, say it. It’s often assumed that college students can be ripped off and uninformed on what exactly they should be paying for. It never hurts to try to negotiate or bargain with your landlord. You never know what you may be able to compromise on.

Tip #6: Make sure that any prices agreed upon are officially finalized.

When negotiating prices, be sure to officiate any and all agreements made. It is common for students to settle on a price with their landlord, but then forget to finalize the details, giving the landlord the opportunity to change it later on. Once the price is agreed on, ask for an official lease or some form of permanent guarantee that the price will not be changed.

Tip #7: Don’t be lazy.

Although this seems like a given, read your lease in its entirety before signing it. Lease documents tend to be long — usually around 10+ pages. Make sure that you take the time to read every single sentence of your lease. Some fees and charges can be hidden in the fine lines, and once you’ve officially signed the lease, there’s no going back.