The 11th annual Red & Black Housing Fair was held in the Tate Student Center on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. Hundreds of students compared different housing options for their next semester.(Photo/Jason Born)

Parents, be prepared. You might still be adjusting to the idea of your student being in a dorm, but in a few months you’ll start debating apartments.

Most UGA undergraduates move off campus after freshman year. Thanks to the competitive nature of finding housing close to campus, the search process starts before Thanksgiving break.

We compiled a tips for helping you and your student plan for the next big move.

1. Talk about budget

Give your student a firm and realistic idea of budget and have them do an initial round of research to see what falls into your guidelines.

Student housing in Athens ranges from luxury apartments in complexes with infinity pools and high-end workout rooms to shared bedrooms in houses in varied degrees of repair. Prices can vary from $1,400 a month for a studio in a downtown luxury development to $250 for a room in a five-bedroom house in an older neighborhood. Establishing a budget upfront will help narrow the search.

2. Look at the total cost

Remind your student it’s vital to factor in costs such as commuting and electricity as well as basic rent.

Some student rentals include utilities as well as cable and Wi-Fi. Others cover only the space and require students to set up utilities and other services.

Don’t forget to discuss the cost of getting to and from campus. Some complexes include free campus shuttles.

3. Read the fine print

Most landlords require parents or guardians to co-sign leases. Read the fine print and talk with your student about expectations and responsibilities. After all, you’re likely to be the one liable if an appliance is broken or walls get scuffed.

Most leases in Athens run from August through July, so have a conversation with your student about whether they plan to stay in Athens for the summer and check the lease for sub-lease restrictions.

4. Encourage roommate communication

Suggest to your student that they discuss how costs and responsibilities are going to be shared. Who’s going to pay the power bill? Who’s going to drop off the rent check? Setting up those guidelines in advance is an investment in roomie harmony down the road.

5. Do some meal planning

Be realistic about meal prep. Many students opt for a commuter meal plan which allows them to eat a certain number of meals on campus, keeping “cooking” at home to basics like pouring a bowl of cereal in the morning. Knowing what your student’s plan will be will help make decisions about apartment choices and budget.

6. Weigh pros and cons

Help your student develop a list of features of potential apartments and weigh the advantages and drawbacks of various options. Are cool features such as a pool or game room worth it for an apartment that is miles from campus?

7. Offer to take a tour

Pandemic permitting, checking out places with your student (and possible roommates) will give you a better sense of what’s available in Athens and the relative locations of apartments, houses and campus so that you can assist your student in making the best decision.

8. Consider on-campus

There are some options for sophomores and upperclassmen. If your student would prefer to stay on campus, have them check with University Housing about deadlines and policies. Deadlines for registering with the Dawg House are in January. Check housing.uga.edu for updates.

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