Sooooooo, I really do want to try and get a post out a week. Try being the operative word because things happen. Anyways, if you follow me on Instagram then you’ve seen my Instastory and know that I’ve been traveling 2,725 miles from Nevada to Florida for law school. It was a fun and interesting trip to say the least. I’m glad to be off the road and settled into my apartment though. Speaking of apartment, let’s talk about living off campus in law school.
I’m type A like many other law students which means I like things a certain way, especially my home. My home is my sanctuary and where I come to be at peace. I say all of that to say… this is why I will be living alone. The cost of peace and happiness far supersedes the cost of rent for a one bedroom. For those of you that are looking for a roommate, the best thing to do would be to look for roommates wanted on your school’s message board or post on your school’s message board that you’re looking for a roommate. At my school there is a group for all of the incoming 1L’s and a If you’re looking to live off campus on your own or if you and roommate are looking for somewhere to stay, keep reading.
Create a Budget
You need to know how much you will be able to spend on rent alone. First start by determining how much money you will have for both of your semesters in law school excluding tuition and books. Once you have that amount then start calculating roughly what your monthly expenses will be. Think about things such as electricity, water, garbage, cable, and renter’s insurance. In addition you should factor in gas for your car, car insurance, groceries, health insurance, cell phone, and any other monthly expenses that you have. After you have calculated all of your expenses for the month, factor in personal monthly allowance for things like getting your nails and toes done (me), grabbing a drink with friends (also me), getting your hair done, going to a movie, or maybe there’s something nice you want to buy. After you have calculated all your monthly expenses and your monthly personal allowance, multiply that total amount by 9 if you plan to stay in your place for just the school term or multiply by 12 if you plan to stay the full year. If you do end up staying the full year and get a summer job your 1L year you may have some wiggle room but to be safe I would calculate as if you are only living off of the money you saved/are borrowing.
Once you have multiplied that total amount, subtract that amount from the money you saved/are borrowing. The amount remaining you should divide by 9 or 12 to determine how much you can spend on rent. I created a mini example of this below:
Total Allowance for both Semesters excluding Tuition and books: $25,000
Utilities (Electric, Water, Garbage): $130
Renter’s Insurance: $20
Car Insurance: $120
Health Insurance: $150
Cell Phone: $80
Personal Allowance: $150
Total Expenses and Allowance
$130 + $50 + $20 + $140 + $20 + $120 + $150 + $80 + $350 + $150 = $1,210 X 9 = $10,890
$130 + $50 + $20 + $140 + $20 + $120 + $150 + $80 + $350 + $150 = $1,210 X 12 = $14,520
$25,000 – $10,890 = $14,110 / 9 = $1567.77 to spend on rent
$25,000 – $14,520 = $10,480 / 12 = $873.33 to spend on rent
Search for an apartment
If you read my 10 things to do before law school post, there is a plethora of different apartment search engine sites that I listed that are helpful in your search for an apartment. But if you read that post then you know that apartmentlist.com is my absolute favorite. Below is a break down of how to search for an apartment on apartmentlst.
First you will select what city you would like to live in
Then choose how many bedrooms you’re looking for
Select how much you are willing to spend based off of the budget you created
Choose where you are looking to live as well as what surrounding cities you would be willing to live in if any. Side note: if you are living alone, you may need to choose surrounding cities outside of the city your law school is in. I live about 20 minutes away from my law school.
Then enter in your school address
Next enter how you will be commuting to school
Then select how many miles you would like to live within the area of your law school
Next pick your preference for laundry
Then select parking as well as other features you may want such as air conditioning, pool, gym, etc.
Next select the if you have any pets
Then select what it is you care about the most when it come to looking for an apartment. Here is where you think about your non-negotiables.
Pick your move-in date and how important that date is to you. It’s best to move in 3-4 weeks before school starts so you have plenty of time to get familiar with the city and your route to school.
Choose the length of the lease as well as if you will have a co-signer or roommate.
Select your monthly income. This will be your total allowance for both semesters excluding your tuition, divided by 9 or 12 depending on how many months you plan on leasing the apartment.
Select if you have ever been evicted
You will have to enter your name, number and email address before you can get your results. I know it can be annoying getting a whole bunch of unnecessary emails but apartmentlist is really good at only sending you updates on apartments on your list that you love. Also, just use your junk one. Everybody should have a junk email address.
After you have entered in your information you will be presented with your matches based off of the criteria you set. You will have the best matches which is everything on your wish list, then you will have separate matches that include one thing but not the other on features you selected.
Once you have gone through your best matches, from there you research the apartment via their own website.
Applying for an apartment
Of course it is always best to view the apartment or at least a model before you move-in. Unfortunately, because I lived out of state I didn’t have that luxury. I did look at a 3D walk thru of the apartment I wanted on apartments.com though. If you need to, use different sites to get all the information you need before applying.
If you live out of state it’s a lot easier to apply to an apartment that allows you to do everything online which would include the application as well as the deposit for the apartment. During the application process they will likely ask you for monthly income, if you aren’t currently working then use your financial aid package as your income as well as any money you have saved for school.