Desis usually prefer to live in off-campus apartments. There are quite a few apartment complexes in walking distance from VCU Monroe Park Campus and some close to the Medical Campus. Click here for a list.

Usually the rent for a 2 bedroom apartment is $800-$1100. With four people sharing the apartment, the rent comes to $200-$300. It may include some or all utilities.

Things you need to know while leasing an apartment:

  • Most apartment lease are for 1 year. Some may have a six month lease option too.
  • Generally only two people can sign a lease for a one bedroom apartment or an efficiency and four people for a two bedroom apartment.
  • Most managements require a two month notice before you vacate your apartment. This applies even if your lease is expiring. Let’s say you leased an apartment from Aug 2005 to July 2006, You will need to give a notice latest by May, that you are going to vacate the apartment.
  • The monthly rent is decided at the beginning of the lease period and usually remains same until you renew your lease. Check with your management before you sign the lease.
  • Before signing the lease, the apartment managements like to look for your credit history and lease history (if you have leased some apartment before). If you are a new student here and do not have an SSN, you may find it difficult to sign the lease. Some managements allow you to have a cosigner (e.g. your uncle who has been living here for 40 years) who can sign on the lease with you.
  • In some cases, you might be paying a higher rent if you sign a new lease compared to subleasing an existing tenant or transferring a lease in your name from someone else. For example, if person A signs one year lease in June 2006 at $700 per month, his rent would stay same atleast till June 2007. If the management increases the rent to $800 in October 2006, Mr. A would not have to pay higher rent till June 2007.

What to look for before signing the lease:

  • Rent: This is one of the most important considerations while choosing an apartment.
  • Room size: This tells you if you can comfortable share your room or not and thus affects the per month rent. Go visit the apartment before you sign on the dotted line. It’s better to actually see the room size than trying to visualize it from the floor plan drawing.
  • Utilities: Find out what utilities are included with the rent and what bills you need to pay extra. Utilities include electricity, water, waste disposal, gas and cable. Utility bills can add a lot to your monthly expenses if they are not already included in your rent.
  • Location: Make sure the apartment building is in a safe location and close to campus in case you have to walk back at night. Ask seniors for advise. Also make sure it is close to a VCU shuttle stop in case you have to go to other campus for classes or lab.
  • Air-conditioning and Heating: Most apartment buildings close to VCU have both AC and heat available. Some apartments have central heat/cooling while others have individual units within each apartment. In latter case, you have to pay for these separately (as part of electricity bill). Generally there isn’t much difference in rent of an apartment with heat/cooling and one without it. So better go for one which has all these available.
  • Quick maintenance: A lot of high rise apartments offer quick round the clock or next day maintenance for common problems with plumbing, electricals etc. Ask your apartment management if they have this available in their building.
  • Security: Some apartments have round the clock or daytime security guard available (just in case you are a little paranoid). Others have a swipe card entry.

How to find an apartment:

  • First thing is finding roommates. This generally takes more time than finding an apartment.
  • You can mail to our group on yahoo (you need to be a member first) looking for roommates.
  • If your roommate is a current student here, he should have a good idea of what apartments are available and which of them are good.
  • If all your roommates are new students, you will need to contact the apartment managers and find information like room size, rent, utilities etc. You can also checkout the websites below for directory of apartments in Richmond downtown area.
  • Fix an appointment and check the apartment before you sign the lease.
  • Before you and your roommates sign the lease, decide how you are going to divide the rent. For example, if two people share a one bedroom apartment, one of them has the bedroom for himself and other has the living room (yes! some people do it this way), the one staying in bedroom might be paying higher rent. So, iron out all these things in the beginning to save trouble later.

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August 27, 2013