It’s your final year of college and graduation is so close you can almost taste it! The moment you’ve been waiting for. No more dorms! No more all-night study sessions! Well … that’s true. The end of college also means that it’s time for you to figure out where you’re going to live, find a job, start paying off your student loans … in other words, if you thought you were broke during college, just wait! The real world is waiting for you and things aren’t always pretty.
If you’ve spent your college years shuffling back and forth between your dorm room and your parents’ house, then you haven’t yet had to go through the process of leasing an apartment. “Rent!” might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of moving out on your own, but there’s a lot more than a month’s rent involved.
Most apartment communities usually require potential residents to go through an application process. Yes, that’s just what it sounds like- you have to apply to find out if you’ll even be allowed to move in to the neighborhood! This involves things such as a credit check, a background check, and employment history and income verification to ensure that you have a job and will be able to afford to pay your rent. Don’t have a job yet? That might cause problems. Maybe your parents will help you out by acting as co-applicants, but some apartment communities do not allow co-signers on leases.
The rental application usually comes with a cost attached. When I moved into my first apartment, I had to pay a $100 non-refundable application fee, which meant that even if they told me I could not rent an apartment after all, I was not getting my money back. This fee varies from community to community. Once I was approved and told that I was good to go and allowed to move in, I had to give a deposit equivalent to one month’s rent … along with the first month’s rent and last month’s rent. I was also required to have renter’s insurance, which tacked another $20 onto my monthly expenses.
Once you have an apartment, you’re also going to need things like electricity and water. I’ve heard of some apartments that include utilities, but that isn’t always the case. If it’s not included, the apartment community will usually require you to have the utilities turned on in your own name, and many utility companies charge a deposit before they will do that for you. Some will waive the deposit fee if you ask them to check your credit history, but if you’re a fresh-out-of-college twentysomething, you might not have much of a credit history to help you out.
All of these things can make moving out on your own extremely expensive, particularly if you don’t even have furniture yet. In that case you’ll need to purchase some basic necessities.
Want to hear something that might scare you after reading all of this? The National Association of Colleges and Employers annual student survey found that only 20% of 2009 college graduates who applied for a job actually had one by the end of April, which was down from half in 2007.
Perhaps that is why (according to a survey conducted on CollegeGrad.com) 77% of college grad job seekers moved back home in 2008, up from 73% in 2007, and 67% in 2006.
So yes, it’s sad but it’s true. You may have to live with your parents after your graduation. If this is the case, don’t despair. I actually know several people that had to do it, and they’ve all turned out fine. One of my friends is a teacher, and she lived with her mom and dad for about two years after we graduated from college together. I know another young woman that moved to a brand new city after her graduation, only to wind up coming back home anyway. She now lives with her father while she job hunts in the town she tried to leave. If you think that sounds awful, well … I even know a few married couples that moved in with the husband or wife’s parents for a year after their wedding in order to save money to act as a down payment on a house! It might be annoying at the time, but you’ll laugh about it later.
If you end up living with your parents (or with a sibling or any other person that’s charging you little or no rent) after your college graduation, there is light at the end of the tunnel. There are a few things to do to save up to get out on your own after all.
You are going to need to build yourself a nest egg to cover all of the various moving-out expenses that I mentioned earlier. Try to figure out how much you think you will need to save, and then add a few hundred dollars to that amount to act as emergency funds. Things usually wind up costing much more than you think they will.
Only buy necessities. You probably don’t need a ton of new clothes or DVD’s. Unless it is absolutely necessary for survival, don’t buy it. Try to cut back on dining out or going out for drinks, too. It all adds up.
If all else fails, see if you can find a potential roommate that will help you cut your apartment costs in half. It might not have been your life’s dream, but it will help get you out of your parents’ basement.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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