Renting in the Real World

Graduating from college is a life changing event and many college grads will face a new experience: renting in the real world.

While many college students rent off-campus houses or live in apartments near campus, renting in the real world is a whole different game... and there are different rules that dictate how that game is played.

Here are my Top 5 differences between renting a house in college and renting an apartment in the real world:

5. In the real world, you must choose from an unlimited a pool of apartment complexes and rental houses

University housing and student complexes are no longer the only real options you have when deciding where you want to live. Therefore, you must do more research on your own to find a place that suits your needs and desires and can't just settle for places you know you should live in because you are a senior. And you must find your own place to live... there are no housing offices here.

4. In the real world, you cannot afford everything

In college, the rents for different apartment complexes and rental houses were fairly similar to each other, usually within a few hundred dollars. However, in the real world, there can be huge differences in rent within the same neighborhood and many of the rental units you are interested in will be out of your price range. It's best to get a good idea of what you can truly afford to pay each month and then search for housing strictly within that rental range.

3. In the real word, you must choose from a limited number of potential roommates

In college, the potential roommate pool was immense: you could live with your friends from Biology, your friends from the chess club, or your friends from the Frat. In the real world, the number of potential roommates you have often is greatly reduced, as your friends are spread across the country. You must find friends who want to live in the same state, city, and neighborhood as you do, who keep the same hours as you (bartenders and Capitol Hill interns often find living together inconvenient), and who have the same budget as you. Often, you simply may not be able to find friends to live with and have to use a roommate finding service instead.

2. In the real world, you have neighbors who care what you do.

Remember running through the building screaming at 3am, leaving your trash in the hallways, using your door as a message board, and the general debauchery associated with college life? Yeah, those things can't really happen in the real world, as you are no longer surrounded by other students your age (who are doing the same things you are.) Your neighbors will be young and old, single and married, mothers and fathers and most will not be as tolerant of noise and disruptions. Oh, that reminds me...

1. In the real world, the "real police" come.

The days of campus security knocking on your door are over. Instead, actual police officers who don't "look the other way" come whenever your neighbor files a noise complaint. And even if you really weren't making a lot of noise, adults tend to take the word of their peers over yours. Not only can you get into legal trouble, but you can also lose your lease if you make a habit of irritating your neighbors.

Don't get me wrong, though. The real world is truly a great place to be and there are many corresponding perks. For instance, you can actually sleep at midnight, live in a nice place, and not worry about only buying indestructible things. To help your apartment search, I have created a little "Apartment Checklist" () that will help you keep track of the different places you have seen. There's even a spot for you to "grade" each property so you will still feel like you are at school!

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