It could be freshman year, sophomore year or even the upperclassman years but there comes a time when the stress of finding an apartment will begin. Every college town is different when it comes to apartment hunting but the main rules I learned could help students get an idea of what to expect. The key to success in college apartment shopping is to start looking and gathering information sooner rather than later. Apartment landlords like to start easing early. And when I say early, I mean a year in advance.

Apartment complexes will start sending you mail on campus a few months prior to lease signing. I would make sure you read and save each and every one of those pamphlets. Apartments tend to fill up quickly in college towns so it is always a smart idea to have a handful of apartment options for yourself and your roommates.

Once you start gathering information it’s important to have open communication with your parents. It’s important to ask for their advice on pricing and what to look for in an apartment. The price of apartments near colleges can be over-priced because they know they are in high demand.

Most students feel it is convenient to live in apartments on campus. However, these types of apartments can be expensive the closer they are to school. Sometimes you can find good deals and clean apartments near campus, but if there are only a few available and you have a car or bus service available, off campus apartments could be a good choice. Apartments off campus tend to be nicer and sometimes cheaper. However, the best way to know this for sure is not by just researching online and reading pamphlets. Another key to successful apartment hunting is booking a showing with the apartment office to see exactly where you would be living.

Some apartment leasing agencies try to get students to sign leases without physically showing the tenants the apartment they will be living in. This is why it is important to have your parents with you so apartment employees do not take advantage of young college students like yourself. Securing an appointment will also give you a look into how friendly the staff is and how the property owner treats their prospective renters.

An apartment says a lot about a person and it’s critical to have a reasonably priced and clean apartment where you will feel comfortable. If you follow this advice, you should be in good shape. Happy hunting!

Jenna Cusumano is an NSCS member from Springfield, Illinois studying at Illinois State University. She is a sophomore majoring in Journalism with a minor in Cinema Studies. Follow Jenna on Twitter @Jcus2010.