Get stories and expert advice on all things related to college and parenting.
When Your College Student Wants to Live Off CampusVicki Nelson
Signing your first lease or moving to a new place can be intimidating and stressful. However, there are several ways in which you can help your student prepare to make this new chapter in life more exciting and less daunting.
Finding a student apartment near the University of Florida is easy once you’ve identified your monthly budget and the features that are most important to you. You’ll find apartment options with student-friendly features like individual leases and roommate matching as well as amenities such as study rooms all over town.
Before getting started, it’s important to identify your student’s priorities and lifestyle needs. Evaluating things like budget, location and lease length will form the basis for your search.
So, take a seat and let’s get the hard stuff knocked out. Sit down with your student and break down monthly or weekly expenses and draft a realistic budget for rent and utilities. Keep in mind that you don’t want to strap yourself down too tight; it’s best to maintain a little financial flexibility for the important stuff — Gator games, shows at the Hippodrome and nights out in Midtown with friends.
Before you start the apartment search, write out all your expenses and develop a monthly budget. This will help you determine what type of apartment is best for your student, financially and otherwise.
Next, it’s time to focus on the where. Gainesville can be broken down geographically into a handful of neighborhoods: Archer Road, Downtown, Midtown, Northwest Gainesville, Sorority Row and South, Tioga and Haile, and West Gainesville. If you’re looking to live close to the University of Florida, apartments in the Midtown and Downtown neighborhoods are within close walking distance. Similarly, students who attend Santa Fe College may find Northwest Gainesville to be more convenient as it’s home to the school’s main campus. If you’re interested in a more fast-paced location near all the major chain stores and restaurants, then Archer Road may be the spot for you. Families or faculty hoping to escape the hustle and bustle may find that West Gainesville feels most like home.
After nailing down the major needs, it’s time to start thinking about the things that will make life easier and more enjoyable for your student. If they’re an animal lover, check for pet friendly apartments in Gainesville that have amenities catering to furry companions like a dog park. For those looking to cut down on costs by finding a roommate, consider size, layout and apartment type (by the bed vs. by the apartment) when looking for the right space. If an all-inclusive rental is more appealing, check for communities that include utilities such as water, electric, internet, cable, trash and pest control in your rent. Students starting out on their own may benefit from an already furnished apartment, and luckily many Gainesville communities offer furniture packages. Amenities like a fitness center, pool or laundry facility may also come in handy. No matter which neighborhood you choose, you’ll want to research parking options (free or city) and bus routes in the area.
There is no shortage of apartment communities and rentals in Gainesville, so there’s no need to rush before having weighed all your options. For students, it is recommended that you begin looking for your new digs six months prior to the start of the semester and plan to sign a lease 3–4 months before classes begin. If there’s a location you have your heart set on, or if you are hoping to live with a group of friends, we recommend getting started early!
If your student is a little late to the game, don’t panic! There are plenty of apartments in the area that have openings consistently throughout the year as students come and go. Do keep in mind that apartment communities operating on a specific lease term may have strict move-in and move-out dates, especially to prepare for students coming back to Gainesville after the summer break.
Overall, your student should make sure that the community they choose is somewhere they see themself being happy. Our final advice: Do your research, talk to the locals and weigh all your options. Most of all, have fun and enjoy the exciting adventure that awaits you. Welcome home!