You’ve likely been living in a dorm or with your parents for years — now what? It’s hard to decide if you should buy or rent if you want to continue to have roommates or fly solo. Here are some things to consider before you choose your living arrangements.
- Location Is Important
Living right in the city close to work is awesome, but it can be tricky to afford, especially if you’re paying off student loans. There are tools to use to see how far your salary can get you in the city where you choose to live. If you’re coming from a smaller town, it can come as a shock to see just how expensive everything gets the closer you are to an urban area.
Take a look at the public transportation system. Maybe there’s a bus or a train you can take into work, and you can live outside the city to cut costs. If you have a reliable car with good gas mileage, that’s always an option as well. Plus, depending on your job, you may even get a company car!
- Consider Buying a Home
There are definitely benefits to having your own home. No more rental agreements mean you have the freedom to adopt whatever pets you want and paint the walls random colors. The value of a home normally increases, especially if you make improvements, so you have that to look forward to. And if you plan on staying in that area and with the same job, it can definitely be a better investment than renting, especially with the tax benefits that can come with it.
However, buying isn’t always the best option. If you don’t have the time for home maintenance, there’s no landlord you can call to fix something. You’ll have less free time because of the upkeep. It also can be challenging to buy just starting out, depending on what you’re making and how much debt you’re already in from school.
- Don’t Rule Out Renting
While a lot of people say renting is like throwing money away, it’s often a good option for new graduates and millennials. If you want to live by yourself, a studio or one-bedroom apartment is a lot easier to maintain than a whole house. In addition, you’ll have someone you can contact if there’s a serious issue, so that’s another thing you don’t have to worry about.
Most landlords and rental companies require you to complete a standard rental application, which involves a credit check. If you’ve been living in campus housing and don’t have relationships with past landlords, don’t panic — there are several things you can do to rent an apartment even with low or no credit. As a bonus, making rent payments on time will also help you build a good credit score.
One of the best things about apartments is the convenience. They’re often in convenient locations, and some offer options for income-based rent control if you’re struggling to pay bills. They can offer amenities you might not have in a house, like laundry facilities, game rooms, clubhouses, gyms, and pools.
- Decide How Much Company You Want
If you’ve lived in dorms throughout college, you’ve probably figured out whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. Maybe you want multiple roommates so you can be surrounded by people all the time, or just one you know you can get along with. There’s no right answer, so it’s all up to how you feel.
Roommates do come with added responsibilities. You’ll have to make a roommate contract detailing how to split rent and bills, division of housework, and terms on guests. You want to make sure everyone is pulling their share, and you don’t get stuck with a roommate’s boyfriend who doesn’t chip in for rent or groceries and decides he’s never leaving.
- Make A Detailed Budget
Before you make your final decision, you should create a detailed budget to make absolutely sure you can afford the option you pick. Take into consideration rent/mortgage, utilities, student loans, your cell phone bill, your car payment and insurance, gas, food for the month — basically, anything you can think of that you’ll be spending money on regularly. Writing out a budget can show you if you’re able to afford the place.
You also want to set aside some money in case of an emergency. If the housing option you want means you’re going to be living paycheck to paycheck, it probably isn’t the best option for you.
Choosing housing is always a big decision! Since the majority of housing options require a six-month commitment at the very least (and normally, a lease runs a year), it’s a decision that is not to be taken lightly. Explore your options, ask around and be patient if you can’t find what you’re looking for right off the bat. Do your research so you can come up with the option that fits best for you.
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