Are you ready to explore residential life outside of the Virginia State University campus but aren’t quite sure where to start? Understandable—there is a lot to consider before you take the off-campus plunge. It can be scary to think about all the “real world” aspects of looking at properties, signing leases, and knowing your rights as a tenant. Luckily, we have compiled this brief guide to help you sort through all of the unknowns involved in living off campus as a Virginia State University student.
The very first step to your off campus experience is establishing a budget of what you can afford to spend. The monthly costs of rent, food, utilities (trash, electricity), and cable/internet can add up quickly, and it is also important to factor in the initial lump sums of a security deposit, first and last month’s rent, and any applicable pet deposit/fees. There might also be unexpected charges like maintenance or repair costs, depending on the property. Consider looking into renter’s insurance to protect yourself from major damages or risks.
As the real estate mantra goes, it’s all about “location, location, location.” This is particularly true when looking for an off campus residence. The distance from campus is key, especially when you have to factor getting back and forth to class, involvement in student activities, and participation in the social scene. Take time to evaluate how you will commute to campus, considering the parking available on campus (check out the Virginia State University parking policy), the price of gas, the safety of riding a bike to class, and viability of using the Petersburg transit system with your class schedule.
Most college veterans have stories—good and bad—from their college roommate experiences. Having a roommate has advantages and potential challenges, and it is good to go into the roommate relationship with realistic and clear expectations. This is vital when looking at off campus roommates. Signing a lease is legally binding and you should make sure that all parties involved are aware of the commitments, are able to hold up their end financially, and know the process for monthly payment of everything from rent to utilities. If you do decide to have roommates, talk through things like house chores, study habits, rules for having guests, and potential quiet hours. The more you can communicate expectations ahead of time, the easier your time together will be.
Looking at Properties
Once you have found some property options that you are interested in, contact the leasing manager or realtor to schedule a tour. Before you meet them, come up with a list of questions that you would like answered, with topics including the lease information, maintenance expectations, parking availability, community rules, washer and dryer connections, and security options. For a list of other possible questions to ask, take a look at this Student Renter’s Guide. This will better help you find off-campus housing near Virginia State University that suits your needs. As you are looking at the property, take notes and pictures to reference and compare later. Be observant of their interactions with current tenants, the condition of other surrounding properties or apartments, and the wear and tear on the apartment that you are walking through.