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Now that your school year is coming to an end, it’s time to start figuring out where to live this summer and/or fall.

Deciding where to live is a huge decision – one that will affect your life for the next year – so make sure to choose carefully.

If it’s your first time, the process can seem pretty intimidating – here’s some tips to use in your search.

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Pick a price range

Look at your finances and figure out what you can afford. If the rent is going to be a significant strain on your monthly budget, it might not be a good fit for you. Also, keep in mind that utilities are going to be an additional fee each month.

Prioritize your needs

If you need to be close to campus because you don’t have a car, then that should be high up on your list. Some apartments might offer tempting amenities, but if your most important needs aren’t met, then you need to live somewhere else.

Find ways to save money

Does the complex have a computer lab where you can print for free? Does it have a gym you can use? Is there a shuttle that can drive you to campus? Find out what other amenities the complex offers that could help you save money in the long run.

Keep an open mind

Don’t restrict your search to a specific area – the apartment of your dreams could be 10 or 15 minutes away from school. Look at a variety of complexes before you make up your mind so you find the best space for your buck.

Read your lease

Although it seems tedious and boring, you need to read every single word of your lease before you sign it. There could be specific rules the apartment has set (or additional fees) that you aren’t aware of. Once you sign the lease, you have to follow the rules no matter what – ignorance isn’t an excuse.

The next step? Find roommates that you are able to get along with. You’ll need to find people who have similar values and priorities as you to make things work.

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