A guide to off-campus living

By Chris Brannon, @chrisbrannonDE

While living in a dorm can certainly be a big adjustment from life before college, transitioning to off-campus housing can be even more exciting, as well as daunting.

Moving into a new place comes with a lot of responsibilities dorm life never had. Making sure all of the relatively simple things are taken care of, like remembering to buy shower curtains, a microwave and cleaning supplies can be hard, especially with school going on at the same time. Deciding on renter’s insurance and taking care of all of your utilities, however, are things most of us have had no experience with. 

It can all be a bit overwhelming, but the best place to start is always with your particular lease. This agreement will layout exactly what things you are responsible for, as well as what your landlord is responsible for. The day of the month your rent is due, policies regarding pets and what utilities are covered by your rent are just a few of the key points you should be looking for.


Sometimes the terms of the lease can be vague or hard to understand, so asking your landlord specific questions is always a good idea. Additionally, Students’ Legal Assistance, located in the Student Services Building, can also help with legal concerns regarding the lease. They also have resources to help students understand what to acknowledge before signing their leases.

After all questions and concerns are taken care of, on to the fun part.

Furnishing and decorating a house can be a blast, but it can also be tough for people with a tight budget, or those who are not as creative as others. Craigslist, flea markets and thrift stores are great places to search for items to put in your new home, as long as you are careful about bed bugs and other critters.

As for inspiration, online sites and apps such as Tumblr and Pinterest are great places to start.

Food is another incredibly important topic you will need to give some thought to. Campus housing may have come with a meal plan, but now you are on your own. There are essentially three options: buying groceries to cook for yourself, going out to eat or buying a Block-20 Plan from University Housing, which is essentially buying 20 passes into either dining hall for the year.

Whichever you choose, it is important to keep up good health and not rely too much on fast food and ramen. That being said, we have all been there.

For those who are not new to living off campus, but are new to moving out, there are some things to keep in mind.


Assuming you want your security deposit back, cleaning is a must. Cleaning the fridge, blinds, and filling in holes in the walls are important things to remember that you might not think about.

Often, your landlord will have gone over a checklist when you first moved in to make sure everything was in good order, and will match that to the condition of the house when you move out. But, regardless if they did or not, leaving it as you found it is always a good rule of thumb.