Preparing to live off campus

Illustration by Karly Andersen

This story ran as part of a VCU Student Media Center summer special publication, The Compass, which serves as a guidebook for new students.

Scott Malone, Contributing Writer

At some point almost everyone is going to have to live off campus, and that’s certainly a worrisome prospect for college kids who are just making their way out into the world. 

The first thing any VCU student looking to live off campus should do is start browsing through offcampus.usca.vcu.edu — a VCU site dedicated to helping students find housing — Zillow, Craigslist or Richmond Facebook group Lindsey’s List. Look for reviews of the leasing company or landlord, because being stuck in an apartment at the mercy of a bad landlord is more than unpleasant. When touring locations, be skeptical of any issues that might need repair. 

Depending on your personality, the thought of roommates is either an exciting or worrisome. After all, living with a stranger can be unnerving. A word of advice, though, funds are going to be tight, especially if you are going through college on your own with no parental help. Getting a roommate will dramatically decrease your rent. In many cases it’s unavoidable. You can try to see if any friends are willing to room with you, but it’s not always a good idea to live with friends, depending on your dynamic. Don’t shy away from off-campus services or posting in Facebook groups to search for roommates with similar lifestyles.

Even though it’s early in the school year, the time to think about next year’s housing will creep up on you. Units at the more preferable options will start to fill up as early as halfway through the spring semester for leases beginning in late summer. It’s better to start your search early to have housing locked down long before you leave Richmond for the summer. 

If you’d rather speak to someone about your questions in person, you can set an appointment with the Off Campus Housing Service by phone at 804-828-6500 or by email at offcampus@vcu.edu.

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