Off Campus Living

Finding an Apartment

When you are busy with classes, studying, internships, extracurricular activities and hanging out with friends, finding the perfect apartment near campus can be a challenge! Searching for an apartment takes time and effort, especially in Hoboken’s competitive real estate market, when vacancies are usually advertised 30 days before the move-in date and you may need to conduct your apartment search in a quick, two-to-four week time period.

During your search, you should consider many factors, including proximity to campus, amenities, affordability, lease options, safety, utilities, and necessity of a roommate. There are many real estate brokers in the Hoboken area that may be helpful in your apartment search, but remember that brokers charge a commission for their services.

In addition, numerous free websites may assist you in your online apartment search, enabling you to browse listings and photos, read reviews, contact landlords and arrange visits.

When searching for an apartment online, beware of possible scams. Use common sense and trust your instincts. If the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is! Seeking out reviews and endorsements of the reputation and legitimacy of the prospective owner, company or real estate agency and comparing prices against comparable rentals in the area can help you spot possible scams.

Try not to rent an apartment sight unseen. Verify the condition of the apartment by arranging a visit. Go with a real estate agent or a friend. Think about whether this is a neighborhood that you would be comfortable coming home to late at night.

Finally, always use secured and traceable payment methods like credit cards or PayPal for deposits or application fees, and be careful about giving out your personal information online.

The websites below are popular online apartment searching tools. Please note Stevens does not endorse any of these websites or listings.

Applying for an Apartment

To be approved to rent an apartment, landlords will assess your income, assets, credit and guarantor. On your application, you will have to show your annual income, which may need to be as much as 30-50 times the amount of the monthly rent. For example, to rent a $1,000 a month apartment, you will need to show an annual income of $30,000 to $50,000.Grants, scholarships, stipends and other awards may be considered as income, but landlords may look less favorably on loans. It is also important to have good credit.

Additional assets can also help your applications. Many students, especially international students, may not have a credit history or enough income to meet customary requirements, so you may be approved instead by having six to 12 months of rent available in your bank account to pay rent and security deposits in advance.

If you do not meet income or credit requirements, having guarantor, or co-signer, may be a solution. The guarantor is someone who is willing to take the financial liability of your lease if you are unable to fulfill it.

Other Tips for Tenants

Once you find an apartment, you will be asked to sign a lease. Remember that a lease is a binding legal agreement. Make sure you read the fine print, check for hidden fees and fully understand all of the rules, regulations, policies and stipulations before you sign.

Once your lease is signed, it is a good idea to purchase renters insurance. This reasonably priced insurance, which some landlords require, protects your belongings against the unexpected, such as a fire, flood or theft. Renters insurance policies are widely available from many providers.

Finally, it is time to move in. Check with your landlord about the date to schedule your move. Make a checklist of everything you want to bring and set aside time to box all of your belongings for moving day. Ask friends or family if they are willing to help with the move, either by carrying boxes and furniture, or lending you a large truck or van for the day. If you have many heavy items to move, you can also consider renting a truck or hiring a moving service to help you. If you need furniture for your apartment, there are a number of furniture rental companies which cater to students, which can be easily found through an online search.

When the move is over, it is time to personalize and decorate your space and turn it into a place that feels like your own! It’s fun and easy to decorate on a budget. Try Pinterest for inspiration! 

8 Apartment Searching Tips

  1. Choose the best area for you. What neighborhood do you like best? Do you want to be within walking distance of campus? Are you near the people and services you like the most? 

  2. Weigh amenities versus cost. Amenities such as a gym, pool, courtyard, laundry service, dishwashers, parking and washers/dryers are nice things to have. Simpler apartments with fewer amenities can save you hundreds of dollars each month in rent. 

  3. Determine what size apartment you need. Based on the number of people living in the apartment, which may be capped by your lease agreement, how many bathrooms and bedrooms will you need?

  4. Create a budget. Determine how much you would like to spend on rent per month. Factor in the cost of utilities, cable, internet, food, transportation and other expenses, and take note of application fees, security deposit and broker’s fees.

  5. Establish credit history. Establishing a credit history is important in getting approved for an apartment as it shows you are able to pay your bills on time. Do so by using your credit card for small purchases, avoiding missed payments, and staying out of debt. If you don’t yet have a credit history, you may need to provide a co-signer or guarantor.

  6. Find potential roommates. Find people who you get along with, have the same study habits, share your values, and are reliable and responsible. Spend time discussing your expectations and goals.

  7. Start searching for an apartment two months prior to your move in date. Utilize online sources, newspapers or brokers when looking for an apartment. Walk around your desired area, sometimes for-rent signs are posted on buildings.

  8. Read the lease! Read through the lease thoroughly – it is a legally binding document – to ensure you understand everything you are signing. Do not be afraid to ask questions!