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What to know before living off campus.

Once a student becomes a junior at Emory University, they have the option to live at Clairmont Campus or choose off-campus housing.

Before considering off-campus housing there are a few options that need to be weighed. Is off-campus housing a more affordable option for you? Do you have access to a vehicle to get you to and from campus? Do you value autonomy in the layout, furniture, and décor over more accessible, decided options? Do you plan to stay in Atlanta after graduation? Can you continue to pay rent over the holidays or breaks? Are you able to cook for yourself or is the meal plan better for you?

Another thing to consider is how living off campus affects your financial aid package from Emory. It does not alter or change the amount of aid you receive if you do not have aid for housing. If you do have financial aid for housing, you will receive a lump sum at the beginning of the semester to cover housing costs. Make sure to budget wisely.

Answering these questions will assist in deciding whether off-campus housing is the right decision for you. If it is, here are some other tips and questions that you need to answer when finding your off-campus home.

There are three directions a student can choose: leasing an apartment from an apartment complex, subletting from another individual, or renting from a private home. Each comes with a different process and different accommodations.

Leasing an apartment from an apartment complex

Most complexes require a cosigner for each roommate if the individual does not have a consistent income to cover monthly rent alone. As a college student, that will likely be the case. A cosigner is an individual who will guarantee payment if the renter cannot. This can be any parent, guardian, or any trusted relative that is willing to assist. If a cosigner is not an option, subletting or renting from a private home may be a better option.

Along with a cosigner, there is an application process before renting, which includes an administration fee and application fee. The administration fee covers the fee for the apartment to be off the market until the application is approved. The application fee covers looking into credit, income, and renting history. Before going through the application process, commit to the apartment. Once the application is completed and approved, the individual can start renting out the apartment. There will also likely be a security deposit that will be returned at the end of the lease if there are no issues in the apartment.

Note: It is okay not to have a rent history or have a low credit score as long as you have the cosigner. If you have questions about credit, reach out to the Emory Financial Literacy Peer Mentors

This may seem like a lot to go through but the benefits of renting from an apartment complex include a more trusted leasing office, amenities, and maintenance on the apartment if there are issues with things like AC, pipes, clogged toilets, etc.

If an apartment sounds like the best option, here are some questions to consider before picking your apartment complex:

  • How many bedrooms/roommates?
  • How much does rent cost?
  • How is rent paid? From all roommates or one? Through checking account, debit, check, etc?
  • What utilities are included in rent? What is NOT included in rent?
  • Does your apartment use gas? 
  • Are accounts already set up for electricity and all you have to do is transfer your name? Or do you have to set up the accounts yourself?
  • What amenities are included?
  • How close is the apartment to campus? What is the drive like during high traffic times?
  • Does the complex allow pets? If so, is there a pet rent or pet fee?
  • If you are picking an apartment months in advance, is there a waitlist you can stay on until your move in date?
  • How long are lease lengths? How long do you plan on staying?
  • Rent will likely increase by a small percentage each lease term. How much is the average increase?
  • How receptive are the individuals at the leasing office? This may foreshadow how they respond if there is an issue with your apartment.
  • What do local residents say about this complex on Google or Yelp or other review sites?
  • What is parking like?
  • How do you terminate the lease once it ends?

Tip: Always tour the place more than once and ask to see your specific apartment prior to signing the lease. 

To decide on an apartment, it is best to create an estimate of how much will be paid each month. Utilities will likely have to be set up by the renter unless otherwise specified. Using a spreadsheet will help determine which apartment is the best fit for you.

One time fees may include:

  • Administration fee
  • Application Fee
  • Remotes for any gate
  • Parking fee
  • Security Deposit 

Recurring fees may include:

  • Rent
  • Water (some include in rent)
  • Trash, sewer, and recycling
  • GA Power
  • GA Gas 
  • Renting a washer or dryer if the unit does not have one
  • Internet
  • Renters Insurance (ask the leasing office if there is an insurer that most in the complex use or see if your parents can get a good rate from their home insurance)

Tip: Look for an apartment with an extra room that can be converted into a bedroom, like an office.

Subletting or renting from a private home

If a cosigner or other fees are not an option, subletting or renting from a private home is an alternative. Listings can be found on websites like or facebook groups like Emory & Georgia Tech Subleases, Roommates, Apartments & Housing or Emory Buy & Sell, especially if looking for other college age roommates. Most utilities will already be set up prior to move in and the rest of the space will likely already be furnished. 

In a sublet or private home, they might not require a minimum income or a credit check. Alternatively, they may ask for tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, letter from an employer, or other types of proof that rent can be paid in full and on time. 

In this case, a renter has to be careful that the sublet or private home can be trusted. 

Set up multiple times to see the place and meet the individual renting the space and the roommates prior to committing.

  • Discuss rules of the home
  • Make sure that they have an official lease
  • Check how they handle emergencies and repairs
  • If you are renting from an individual and you have roommates, ask them questions about their living situation
  • Watch out for a price that is too good or a lack of a screening process

Tip: Never pay rent before you sign a lease and know your rights as a subletter

Some questions to ask before renting from a private home or sublet:

  • How much is rent?
  • How much are utilities each month?
  • Who do you pay for your portion of rent?
  • How do they handle repair or emergencies in the space?
  • How many roommates?
  • How close is the apartment to campus? What is the drive like during high traffic times?
  • Do you have to pay an HOA fee?
  • What is parking like?
  • What are the lease lengths? Are you filling out an old roommate’s lease?
  • Are there pets allowed? If so, is there a pet fee and how much?
  • How do you terminate the lease?

Remember to talk to your friends and peers at Emory about their experiences and what worked for them. Good luck as you make your decision!

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