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What should I look for when I rent an apartment?

What should I look for when I rent an apartment?

One of the most stressful things about college is determining which housing best suits you.  As a student, you have to pick between living in certified university housing or an apartment. If you have chosen to live in an apartment, now what do you need to consider?

Looking at apartments can make your pockets squirm because rent can range from $500 to over $1000 a month, in the Champaign-Urbana area. If someone is renting for the first time, they may not even know there are more costs than just rent. When determining what apartment best suits your budget consider the following things: 

  1. How much is the monthly rent?
  2. How much is renter’s insurance?
  3. Is a security deposit required?
  4. How much are administrative fees?
  5. Are utilities such as water, electricity, Internet, etc. included in rent?  If separate, does the apartment offer a stipend for utilities each month?
  6. How much is parking?
  7. For pet owners, how much is the pet fee? Is it monthly or annually?
  8. Does the apartment come furnished or unfurnished? 

When considering the questions above, it may seem challenging to figure out a budget for all these expenses! First, look at your monthly income and determine all your monthly expenses. Next, subtract your monthly income by your monthly expenses because this will give you an estimate of what is left out of your budget for living expenses. Finally, once you have calculated how much money you can allocate for living expenses, then let the comparing begin! Some helpful resources on your apartment search can be found at (but are not limited to),,, and Also, you can talk to your local housing office for helpful resources. For example, the UIUC Tenant Union is located here in Champaign-Urbana. 

Apartments can be expensive, but it is nothing you cannot prepare for! Smart budgeting and comparison shopping can assist in a comfortable living, and if you prepare wisely then you can live comfortably. 

Written by Fahren Zackery, Financial Wellness for College Students Peer Educator, University of Illinois Extension, Fall 2020. Reviewed by Kathy Sweedler, University of Illinois Extension.


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