So you’re coming to Dal and have been trying to figure out where to live. We gave the differences between living in residence and off campus, and you’re leaning towards striking out on your own and living off campus. Congrats on making the big decision, but there are some important things to know before and after you sign the lease. Here are nine things to keep in mind.
1. Details of your lease
The most important thing to know when living off campus is the contract between you and your landlord—particularly the details and clauses it contains. A lease is a legal agreement and contract between the tenant and the landlord, and it’s very important to carefully read it over carefully before signing. Landlords will often require you to get a co-signer—it’s usually a family member or close friend willing to take on your financial responsibilities for the property if you’re unable to pay the money owed.
2. Paying rent (cheques, e-transfer, etc.)
Landlords have different preferences for methods of payment, so it’s important to discuss how you’ll be paying each month’s rent. Post-dated cheques and e-transfers tend to be the most common payment options, so be sure to finalize this with your landlord before signing your lease.
3. Moving resources
When looking to move into an off-campus property, make sure to plan in advance. If you have to leave personal belongings in Halifax over the summer, look into booking a storage unit. If you need to move belongings from an old living place to a new one, be sure to look into contacting moving companies that could assist you in your move. Check Dal’s Off-Campus Living website for info on moving and student-oriented companies.
4. Setting up power
Moving into a new apartment can be quite an overwhelming experience. It’s important to know what to do when setting up your power. Make sure to speak to your landlord about options, as they should be able to provide you with information on who to contact.
5. Setting up your Internet
Once you’ve set up your power, you should look at getting online. When setting up your Internet, it’s a good idea to contact several providers to find one that meets your budget and preferences.
6. Finding grocery stores
Depending on which section of Halifax you’re living in (North End, South End, West End, Mainland, Dartmouth, etc.), there are different options for grocery stores such as large chains Superstore and Sobeys, but also stores to purchase local produce and ethnic stores to find food items from other countries. Check here for a list of local supermarkets and smaller grocery stores around town.
7. Your transportation options
It’s important to consider proximity to campus when deciding on off-campus properties, especially if you don’t own a vehicle. Halifax Transit is an excellent resource for getting to campus and other places around town. All full-time Dal students receive a UPass, which allows you to ride the city buses and ferries from September 1 to April 30. You can get your UPass at the DalCard Office, Student Accounts, and Student Services Centre. Biking is also a viable option during the warmer seasons.
8. Garbage collection
As a student living in an off-campus property, you’re responsible for your own garbage and recyclables. It’s important to be aware of the collection schedule for your area of the city, which can be found on the HRM’s info page as well as through the free Halifax Recycles app. And make sure you know how to sort your stuff—find out what to do with paper, cardboard, plastic, and composting. It’s all on the app.
9. How to live with friends
Living with friends isn’t always easy. Everyone has different schedules and routines so you may not see them as much as you may think. It can be helpful when moving into an apartment with others to set up a schedule for things like washing the dishes and taking out the garbage. It’s important to remember that everyone needs their space sometimes. Living with friends is different than hanging out with them, so be mindful when considering roommates!
These are just nine of our top tips for living off campus. For more information and resources—including a link to our Places4Students apartment rental service —check out the Off-Campus Living website.
Ryley knows the pros and cons of living off campus with four other guys.