We see no reason why your off campus accommodations can’t be delicious, too. This post is the third in a series of posts on off campus housing and, yes, gasp, moving beyond that university-owned bubble that is your college dorm.
Once you find off campus housing and sign that lease, the next obvious step is thinking about how to decorate it! Your new bedroom is really not that different from a dorm room, and we actually know a great website with killer decorating tips for it (hint: it’s DormDelicious!) In this article, though, we’ll highlight some things to think about in your house or apartment that are different from living in the dorms. We’ll talk about how to take advantage of all the freedoms you get with off campus housing (as well as how to cope with the inherent risks), and what to do with all the space outside your bedroom.
Undoubtedly, while living in the dorms you noticed there was quite a lot you couldn’t do when decorating. For better or worse, in an off campus house or apartment you start with a blank slate. For people who love to decorate, this is great: you can put up curtains, go on an Ikea shopping spree, (maybe) paint the walls, put up art, and so on. If you are not so decorating-inclined, fear not! We’ll break it down for you.
The Bedroom: Where The Magic Happens?
Your bedroom might be considered your new dorm room, but let’s not make it Dorm 2.0 okay? First, think about getting a bigger bed. It’s time to part with those Twin XL sheets. Yes, say goodbye. They’ve served well under you… and on top of you I suppose. Please donate them to Goodwill or Salvation Army, though. Someone else will be able to use them! Two more key bedroom items to consider: a dresser and a desk. When shopping, don’t forget our advice on getting cheap dorm room furniture. Depending on whether your room is carpeted or not, you might also consider getting a nice rug. It’ll really bring the room together.
Past the basics, you are free to do what you will with the room. It’s your bedroom, after all. If you’re feeling really ambitious, check with your landlord and see if you’re allowed to paint the walls. Most will let you as long as you agree to paint them back to their original color at the end of the year. If you have a small room, it’s not hard to make it appear larger. And don’t forget to add some color!
Common Spaces: “Common” No Longer
You no doubt have some rooms in your house or apartment that you didn’t have in your dorm – hallways, an entryway, a stairwell, bathrooms, a kitchen, dens, etc. While these can be easily neglected, they can also make the difference between an off campus house and an off campus home. See what we did there? Just tied right back in with the title. Effortless. This is why we get the big bucks.
These new transitional spaces can be a great way to put some of the odds and ends you’ve collected in your dorm over the years – small end tables, various chairs, rugs, pillows – to good use. Also, if any relatives have a garage or attic full of old furniture, now is the time to get in their good graces and have them truck it in. For the walls in hallways you can frame some of the “classier” posters you’ve collected. Think obscure French films and famous photographs rather than Dirty Work and chicks making out. It’s all about first impressions…
If you’re looking for instant college credibility, though, consider our list of the best college movies.
Someone’s In The Kitchen… Actually, No, It’s Empty
The kitchen is a rather notable difference between your dorm and your off campus housing. Whether or not it is simply a storage space for all those cases of Natural Light and PBR or a gourmet mac-and-cheese heaven, it is an inevitable gathering place so it should look nice. If there’s room, try to get a table and chairs. You might even use your discarded Twin XL sheets for a table cloth – it looks better than it sounds! Put some flowers (fake or real) in the center. Hang your pots on the wall. Put some cookbooks on the shelf. Go crazy, but just don’t ignore this important new space.
Securing Your Place: Lock That Down!
Unfortunately one of the sacrifices you make when you decide to live off campus is the security of living in a restricted access dorm with a ton of other people who’ve got your back. Kristen from Rate My Student Rental offers these off campus security tips:
Talk to the campus safety director or officers to see which areas are patrolled and during what hours. If they don’t patrol your neighborhood, ask them to start.
Knowing a home has a security system can deter suspicious activity right from the start. If the landlord has a system like ADT installed make sure there’s a sign in the yard or a sticker on the door. If a security system is not installed and the landlord is reluctant to spend that kind of money (which is silly considering the headache it would save long term), talk to the landlord about installing a door chime. Door and window chimes ding, ring or chime every time the door or window is opened. These will not alert local enforcement but it may scare off someone trying to break in. The chimes also alert the renters or students in the house that some one is entering. If you are not expecting someone you can take action as needed.
Most students and landlords believe that a “security light,” one that lights up the dark areas around a house when motion is detected, deters would-be burglars. Actually, the exact opposite is true! It seems these things light up so often, that no one pays attention to them anymore. Burglars realize this, and actually use the lights to their advantage; you’re actually illuminating one of the weakest points of your house and making it easy for the thief to see what they’re doing.
Our porch light never worked when we lived off campus. Maybe that’s why we never got broken into? At least something good came out of all that drunken late-night fumbling for the key hole in the freezing cold.
Once your new place is all set up don’t hesitate to let us know. You can show your handiwork off right on DormDelicious by submitting a picture. Can’t wait to see what you’ve done with the place.