Do’s and Don’ts of Finding Student Housing in Tampa

May 20, 2022

Starting a new academic year is exciting, and choosing where to live is almost as important as choosing what classes to take. The process of finding the right student housing can be daunting, but by following a few simple tips, the Do’s and Don’ts of Finding Student Housing, you can alleviate stress and focus on your most important priority: your coursework and the resulting academic success. You will find that there are many fantastic and affordable Tampa off-campus housing options!

How To Choose Off-Campus Housing

DO take stock of all the options available on-campus in your budget

DON’T neglect the off-campus or near-campus housing that falls in that price range.

In student housing administered by the university, living on campus can have its benefits. There can be drawbacks as well; generally higher costs, programming elements that you may not want to participate in, and an inflexible move-in/move-out schedule that is married to the academic calendar. Through sites like PadSplit, students may be able to find plenty of Tampa off-campus housing with tons of built-in benefits. Flexible, less expensive, and often larger floorplans can be found off-campus. Here are some do’s and don’t that you need to follow to make the most of these alternative options. 

What to look for in a neighborhood

Find student housing in Tampa in safe neighborhoods.

DO spend some time looking at the area around the housing you have selected.

DON’T sign a lease or agree to a new home without considering the pros/cons of the neighborhood.

If you can’t physically walk or drive around your (potentially) new neighborhood in Tampa, you might be able to get a feel for the area by using a web-based option like the Street View function on Google Maps. With this app, you can take a virtual look at the area and get a good idea of what the surrounding spaces look like near your prospective home. 

What is the walkability of the new neighborhood you are considering? Websites like Walk Score can give you a numeric value, but there are real-life factors to consider as well. Are there sidewalks and marked crosswalks? Are there grocery stores in the vicinity of your potential new home? Are there coffee shops or delis with free WIFI that you might be able to study in? Are there cultural attractions like museums, art galleries, or even music venues nearby? Does the neighborhood have any parks you might want to study on a blanket on a warm afternoon? And one of the most important considerations when moving to Tampa is how far is your new home from the beach. All of these features may make your living options more attractive. Ultimately, if you feel better about where you live, you will have a better attitude about your college career, and your grades will show that contentment. 

Transportation

Transportation in Tampa makes off-campus student housing easy!
Transportation in Tampa makes off-campus student housing easy!

DO make the issue of getting from your home to campus a top priority when selecting your home.

DON’T rule out a great deal that is far from campus. Conduct your research and weigh your options.

Unless you are only taking online courses, you will likely need to commute from your house to campus each day of the week. This is an important consideration when looking for Tampa off-campus housing.

How far is your considered housing option from campus? Are you able to walk to campus, or will you need access to a vehicle or public transportation? Riding in a Lyft or Uber to campus every day can become an expensive option. Does the school operate a student shuttle, and does it pick up/drop off at a location convenient to your new home? If not, are there good bus options from your new home to campus? The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority website discusses many different transit options in the area, which may meet your transit needs. 

Would you be able to bike to campus? Your institution may have resources to assist you with alternative forms of transport like discounted bus passes, or even secure bicycle parking or bike repair shops for student use. Connect with the Office of Student Affairs or the Student Activities Office to see what options are available to you.

Don’t forget that you may need transportation to get back and forth from stores, the beach, etc. To and from campus shouldn’t be your only transportation concern.

Utilities

DO inquire with the rental company to see how utilities are handled in your new home before you agree.

DON’T plan your monthly budget without inquiring with the utility companies.

Admittedly, one of the real benefits of on-campus student housing is that you don’t have to pay for utilities. Well, kind of… You won’t make an online payment for your utilities, for they are almost always rolled into the term housing charges that are applied to your student account. You pay for them; you just don’t see the charges. 

WIFI, water, garbage services, and electricity are typically billed separately to renters when a new resident moves into a house. According to some reports, Florida has the second-highest utility rate in the nation (Hawaii is the first). With Floridians seeing an average monthly cost of nearly $460 a month, utilities are certainly a factor to consider when shopping around for housing in the Tampa area. Be sure to ask your potential new landlord or rental agency how the utilities are handled in your (potential) new home. Sometimes WIFI will be included, or the garbage or water, but you might need to pay the electric bill yourself. Some leasing services, like PadSplit, do roll those charges into the rent so all the resident will see is one weekly or monthly charge.

In markets without competition (electric, garbage, etc.), it can be difficult to find utility cost savings. WIFI is one area where you can save a few dollars by really tuning in how much bandwidth you will need based on how many devices will be on the network. In your home, you may want faster WIFI to stream movies or shows, YouTube videos, and online gaming, but it is unlikely that you will be doing all three at once. Take a few weeks now and make note of how much data you are using in your home WIFI and cellular provider and then compare it with your plans’ offerings. This will be valuable information for you to have when contemplating your move.

Be Excited About Your Student Housing!

Moving to college and living on your own is an exciting transition in your life! It can seem like a scary prospect, full of unknowns, but obtaining stable, welcoming housing is a solid anchor to have in this new phase. On-campus student housing is always an option, but you may be able to stretch your budget a bit by considering Tampa’s off-campus housing options. In the end, you want to find a welcoming, comfortable, homey place that you can afford, and one that you like to spend time in. You will find that there are lots of Tampa off-campus housing options that will support both your lifestyle and your goals of academic success!

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