Moving to a new place can be overwhelming, but add in a huge transition like going to college, and you may feel extra nervous about this next chapter in life. But, don't worry, you aren't the only one! Plenty of students are headed to USC this fall and wonder what they need to do before becoming an official USC trojan.
Before moving to a university, the first thing to do is know where the campus is and the neighborhoods surrounding it. You can't find an apartment in town if you don't understand where you'll live! It is essential to know where your classes will be held to find housing that is as close to class as possible.
USC is located on the southern side of LA in the University Park neighborhood. It sits near the cross-section of Highway 110 and 10, making it convenient to get to. Surrounding neighborhoods to look for housing also include Pico-Union, Downtown LA, Historic South Central, and Exposition Park.
How much money do you have to spend on housing each month? Picking out the perfect housing for your upcoming year as a USC student will rely a lot on your budget. While any housing in LA is expensive, budget-friendly student options are available around the university.
Remember to account for rent, utilities (electricity, water, sewer), internet, food, entertainment, gas, and school costs. Ask a parent for advice so that you don't forget anything. It is also important to remember that the price of housing and items may be higher in the city compared to your current location. Setting a budget after you learn of university admission decisions, scholarships, and financial aid packages can help as well.
While it is possible to rent an apartment sight unseen, it is better if you take the time to tour the unit before signing the lease. When touring a potential apartment, make sure that everything is in working order. This includes checking that the door locks and is secure, the windows can be opened, and all of the faucets run clear water.
Check that the appliances are in good working order and that the place is clean and free of infestation. Turn on the lights, check for any structural damage, and decide what you can and cannot live with when it comes to your new home away from home.
Not only will living close to class help with getting to class on time, but it also can eliminate the need for a car on the congested roads of LA. Add in the current skyrocketing gas prices, and you'll be well ahead of the game by choosing a student apartment near campus. Decide what kind of transportation you are comfortable with to get to class, back home, and run errands. While you can park your car on campus, other options don't require a parking pass or gas money.
USC has a bus system that helps students move around and in-between campus as well as access to Union Station in downtown LA. There is also the USC Lyft Rides Program that helps students get around at night. The city of Los Angeles also offers the Metro, Metrolink, and LADOT services to get around the city easily.
Splitting the cost of rent with a roommate or two can help when living in a traditional apartment. Not only does it divide the overall rent, but it also helps lower your share of the utilities. Living with other people is also fun and helps with social aspects of starting a new school.
Finding a roommate can be a bit tricky when choosing to live off-campus. However, many students are in the same situation as you. While you can always put ads out or hang up flyers, there are online search pages available that help match up potential roommates at USC.
If you don't find a roommate or don't want to spend time trying to find a roommate, there are some off-campus shared housing options as well. These shared houses allow you to rent a private room and bathroom while sharing living and dining spaces. Instead of securing a group of roommates to rent a house, each private room and bathroom are rented out individually. Choosing a shared housing option can greatly affect your overall budget and costs.
When you find a few places to rent that you like, make sure you ask all the right questions. Housing properties often offer perks, or amenities, that help sweeten the deal. This could include utilities, outdoor space, internet, and parking. Air conditioning is another important aspect of an apartment during the hotter summer months.
Security is another crucial issue you may not be worried about, but mom and dad likely are. Rental properties with built-in security surveillance and access to private areas are important. Any rent that includes these things will help your overall budget and make life easy as a busy college student.
Not all off-campus housing around USC is created equal. Find out if the apartment you love is owned by a single owner, landlord, or property management company. This will tell you who you will interact with or call if there is a problem while living in the unit. A single owner usually has just a few rentals and often lives close to the unit. Single owners may also do their own maintenance as well.
Landlords are those who own many different properties around the area. They can be harder to get a hold of since they often have many rentals to look after.
Property management companies are those businesses hired by owners to take care of apartment rentals. Property managers work on behalf of the owner and are the person to contact if there is an issue. They are the ones that usually tour the unit with you and take care of all of the needed paperwork. These companies often have multiple employees and maintenance crews to help address any needs quickly.
While any of these options are suitable, it is important to understand the history of your apartment and research the owner or property management company to check for any red flags. Consider asking a current resident their thoughts on the owners if possible.
Before moving to USC, it is essential to sign a lease agreement for an apartment so that you know where you'll be moving to. A lease agreement helps protect both you and the owner so that you don't show up to move in and find that your place is occupied.
Lease agreements vary from property to property, so it is important to do your homework and have someone else review the agreement with you. Many leases are standard, but there is always a chance that a housing contract will have important information that you may not be aware of.
Make sure that you understand the terms of the lease and how long the lease is for. Many properties offer one-year leases, but you may be able to find flexible lease options as well. The lease should also state if you owe any safety deposit or need to pay the first and last month's rent at the beginning of the year. All of these are standard in many leases.
Moving is an exciting time, and it can also be somewhat stressful. Plan ahead and pack items for school and the new apartment that you'll know you will want. Items like clothes, toiletries, and personal mementos are common things students bring to college. Laptops, software, and electronics like TVs and video game consoles are also popular.
Remember that you can also purchase smaller items and furniture once you arrive in town so that you don't need to transport a lot of heavy items from home. College neighborhoods know the drill and often stock items that students need like laundry hampers, cleaning supplies, and simple kitchen necessities during the start of the school year. These items are easy to find once you get to campus.
After signing your housing contract, make sure that you know when the lease begins so that you know when you can move into your apartment. Depending on where you currently live, you may need to spend a long drive or take a plane to get to USC. It is also helpful to have parents, family, or friends help you settle into your new space.
Keep in mind that moving to college is a big life transition for everyone: not just for yourself. Parents will probably be excited for you but also wonder how they will handle this sudden change. Include your parents in the planning part of moving and make sure that they have a hotel to stay at nearby campus for at least one night. This will help ease the transition and also allow them to help you set up your room, get supplies, and explore the campus.
Moving to USC housing is an exciting part of life that you'll never forget. Before you even arrive on campus, it is crucial to figure out your budget, understand the neighborhood, and tour apartments. Know how you plan on getting to class and around town so that you aren't stuck in the middle of the city without access to transportation.
Once you find the perfect apartment, find a roommate and sign the lease! Knowing what you need to do before getting to campus is an integral part of planning out where you'll live next year. Do your research and ask for help from your family to find the perfect USC off-campus housing option this year!