You chose the school of your dreams, and you got accepted! Now you have another big decision to make. Do you want to live in a dorm room or somewhere off-campus? If you choose off-campus living, you’ll have some distinct advantages. You’ll probably have more space to spread out, and you won’t be subject to campus rules. Plus, if you want a roommate, you’ll get to choose whom you share your place with.
But when you’re shopping for your new college life, you’ll need different items for your off-campus apartment than, say, if you were moving into a dorm room. What exactly will you need to buy?
A Bus Pass or a Parking Spot
Unless you’re fortunate enough to score an apartment right next to campus, you’ll likely have a bit of a commute to get to class. A bus pass will save you on those days when the weather is less than ideal—or when you don’t feel like walking all the way to class with a gazillion heavy books on your back. Some cities may have special bus rates for college students (for instance, free rides when you present a valid student ID), so be sure to look into this before you buy a pass.
Are you bringing your car? There might be parking available on-campus, but what about near your apartment? You might have to pay extra for parking, and on-campus spots can quickly add up. Still, paying a permit fee is better than dealing with parking tickets or—even worse—towing or a boot. Not that we’re speaking from personal experience or anything …
A Couch and Coffee Table for Entertaining and Relaxing
A major advantage of living in an apartment is that you can invite tons of people over to hang out, party or hit the books. But who is going to want to come to your place if you don’t have any comfy places to sit or dine? Make your space your own and do so without breaking the bank. Shopko is an excellent option for apartment furniture that not only looks great but also is budget friendly. A coffee table in front of your sofa will serve as the perfect place for drinks, study materials and the TV remote. And the futon and coffee table above are majorly on sale right now, too!
Buy: Highland Metal Futon (on sale for $149.99; regularly $399.99) at Shopko
Buy: Sauder North Avenue Coffee Table (on sale for $39.99; regularly $99.99) at Shopko
A Checking Account—and a Budget to Go With It
One of the most valuable things you can learn while at school is how to manage your own money. If you don’t have a checking account already, be sure to talk to your parents about opening one. This will let you take control of your own funds in order to get experience budgeting, monitoring balances and paying your own bills. If you have a job, a checking account is also important because it gives you a place to deposit your paychecks.
When shopping around for a bank, be sure to keep an eye out for ones that offer signing bonuses. Chase* has a $200 bonus running right now when you open a new Chase Total Checking account.
Folks who choose to live in a dorm room probably use a shared bathroom and don’t have to worry about supplying their own toilet paper, a plunger and cleaning supplies. You, on the other hand, will need all of those things. Joining a warehouse club or having a friend with a Costco or Sam’s membership take you along for a trip is a pro way to stock up on your bathroom needs once a semester or so.
Also, don’t forget to buy a shower curtain before you move. After a long and sweaty day of moving boxes, you’ll probably want to rinse off—and you won’t be able to do that if you’ve forgotten a shower curtain. #JustSaying
Now that you’re living off-campus and have a kitchen to utilize, you need to ensure you have the right utensils and pots and pans. It’s tempting for sure to hit the fast-food joints on the daily, but those excursions will quickly add up. Make an effort to cook meals at home and host dinner parties for you and your friends. Shopko has plenty of cookware on sale right now, and it’s all perfect for your first apartment or house.
Buy: Studio A 10 Piece Turquoise Cookware Set with Ceramic Coating (on sale for $39.99; regularly $99.99) at Shopko
Buy: Bella Dual Brew Single Serve CoffeeMaker (on sale for $49.99; regularly $79.99) at Shopko
Buy: Farberware 18 Piece Never Needs Sharpening Cutlery Set (on sale for $29.99; regularly $49.99) at Shopko
Renters insurance might seem like an unnecessary bill, but it really isn’t expensive, and it’s totally worth it. The insurance will cover your belongings in case your apartment building catches fire or floods. It will also help you out if someone breaks into your apartment or gets injured while they’re visiting you.
Shop around for the best deals on coverage, and ask about the details on any policy you think about buying. If you have a car, you might even be able to bundle your car insurance and renters insurance and save a little extra money.
Take advantage of the space in your apartment and build up a collection of items that are only there for fun. You might buy the following:
- Board games. Who doesn’t love a good game of Scrabble or a round of Sorry? Make sure you have a few games around the house for days when you’re hosting and need a way to keep your friends entertained.
- Nerf guns. When you get frustrated with school, why not take out your anger with harmless target practice? You won’t hurt anything with a Nerf gun, and it’s a great way to get some in-apartment exercise when you and your roomie are chasing each other in circles.
- A blender. If you’re old enough to drink alcohol, you might want a blender for when you host cocktail parties. If you don’t drink, you can still make amazing smoothies!
- A record player or Bluetooth speaker. Whether you’re hanging with friends or just dancing around your place while cleaning (been there!), you’re going to want to have some music around. Some of our fondest memories from school centered around vinyl swaps with friends and late nights sharing music.
Miscellaneous Items You Won’t Want to Forget
- Hand soap (for bathroom and kitchen)
- Paper towels
- Garbage bags
- Broom and dust pan
- Carpet cleaner (spills will happen)
- Disinfectant wipes
- Light bulbs
- Extension cords
- Laundry detergent
- Hamper/laundry basket
- Clothes hangers
- Basic hygiene products
- First aid kit
- Basic tool kit
- Fire extinguisher (if your apartment doesn’t already have one)
- Smoke detector (your landlord will likely provide one, but make sure it works properly when you first move in)
- Decor (pictures, posters, decorative pillows, anything else that makes your place your own)
Off-campus living certainly has its rewards, but it comes with an extended shopping list compared to dorm room living. Outfit your apartment with the above items so you’re prepared for every possible situation.
*Editorial Disclosure: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.