Switching from on campus to off campus living

Up until a few weeks ago, we thought our daughter would live on campus and planned accordingly. Then, because of Covid, our daughter’s school pivoted and announced it would move to exclusive remote, online teaching for the semester. (School refunded us our room and board payment). Now, D is attempting to put together a group of 4 students so they can get an apartment near campus (they understand it will be a 1 yr lease). The idea is for them to get to know each other and hopefully be nearby the school once it reopens.

The apartments we are looking at are unfurnished, though they all have decent closet space and good kitchen appliances.

Suddenly, I’m trying to figure out what D will need for an apartment. I can give her plenty of extra kitchen gadgets and pots and pans, old rugs, bookcases and bins for clothes. But I don’t have an extra bed or futon, a desk or kitchen table/chairs and I don’t want to pay a lot for these things or force her to wait too long for them.

IKEA’s website already says its deliveries are delayed by Covid. Does anyone have other websites to recommend?

Costco can deliver bed frames, mattresses, other furniture. Target has some. Many things are back ordered. Big Lots here has some cheaper sofas and mattresses and you can pay for delivery. Most of the mattress store do delivery (Mattress Firm).

This is a big expense to be near school when it opens. When it opens, the dorms will open.

How about air mattresses? My s-i-l swears by them and I have tried and its actually pretty comfortable. But would need a way to elevate imo.

Also maybe craigslist (or similar) for the table/desks/chairs? I think quite a few people may be moving with work from home and just looking to get rid of stuff. Some of it can actually be quite nice!

There are quite a few mattress in a box options…from walmart, Amazon, mattress firm as a few examples.

Wayfair and overstock might be worth a look. Both have quick delivery depending on what you buy.

Maybe consignment stores for furniture options? Not sure about delivery options.

Oh we do have an air mattress! That could at least tide us over. The reason we are doing this is that we think it’s more likely that school will partially open in spring than that our D will get a spot on campus. So we are assuming this is a year long journey. I’ll look at Wayfair and the other websites everyone mentioned.

As an potential alternative, you could try furnishedfinder.com

It’s a website that mainly caters to traveling nurses, featuring shorter term leases for furnished apartments, homes, condos, etc. Was a godsend for us when plans this fall abruptly changed. Of course, location and size of the school will affect the number of options but it’s worth a peek.

I’d look into Airbnb. There’s no long term commitment and the cost may be very reasonable. My son almost did it back in March. He and three of his friends found a 4-bedroom unit with cost similar to they would have paid for dorms. It required a minimum stay of only 3 months.

We also tried Airbnb but due to the high fees it charges, it was significantly more expensive for similar properties.

My son got an inexpensive Zinus metal bedframe on Amazon, not sure where he ended up getting his mattress, some things from Wayfair, some from Target, and a couple of things from Amazon Marketplace or local people selling (college town - people leaving). He got a nice lamp from Amazon but did end up getting his desk, chair and nightstand from home.

You probably do have an extra bed, but don’t realize it yet. With a year long lease in an unfurnished place this is the start of her adulthood. She might not ever be back home full time. I’d move her current bedroom furniture into the new place and keep the air mattress for her occasional visits home.

Have you looked at the university’s off campus website? Students list sublets. With the shift to online there may be students wanting to move home to save money and seeking to get out of their obligation. My D found lots of semester housing that way and usually furnished by students returning the following semester.

If the thrift stores are still accessible where she will be studying, she can get dining table and chairs there. Maybe even all of the other furniture she might need. So ask her and her potential apartment mates to investigate that.

They also need to know that their university may well hold them to the same rules as if they had been living on campus. Are they willing to live in a four-person bubble and not talk with anyone outside that bubble except for the cashier at the supermarket? My daughter is a grad student, and she reports that students are being brought before the honor board for off-campus parties, and face dismissal.

It can’t hurt to ask family and friends if they have extra furniture lying around. My D has an old couch of my parents in her apartment. It was in their guestroom and it was barely being used…
If you ask around it’s amazing how many people have furniture taking up space in their garages or in their houses…
For college apartments, it’s really not worth spending a fortune on furniture.
Consignment and thrift stores are worth a look too.

I know someone mentioned furniture rental. I work not far from a CORT furniture rental place, don’t know anyone who has used them, but they might be worth looking into. Furniture rental may be the way to go, when you’re done you just return the furniture to the rental place, no wondering what to do with an extra bed, no throwing away anything, no having to move stuff back home…too bad we didn’t know about this with our D, but then again her college apartment was furnished.

Keep her home. Speaking as a resident of a college town.

I second checking out airbnb’s. You’ll only have to pay for the time you need (not for the month off over the holidays) and it will come with everything you need). And you’re not locked into a year lease.

Thanks so much for the suggestions! Here’s how it’s going so far:

We got a cheap bed from Wayfair and contributed a rug and kitchen stuff. Daughter found some cheap beanbag chairs online. She also pulled old/unused stuff out of our closets (so nice to know my ugly pasta bowls found a temporary home …). One of the roommates bought a double wide desk from Ikea.

For the most part, the kids are living in their four-person bubble, except to meet other kids outside and with masks. On Thursday, D sounded super overwhelmed with all the work she had to do, so it sounds like they are all studying/attending their Zoom classes.

It’s not perfect, but it’s great for now.

We picked up a mattress recently at IKEA for guest bedroom. If you can drive there pick it up it is a massive savings. It came rolled up like a burrito and IKEA made the purchase easy. You can do curbside pick up to avoid having to go into the whole store which is like a mini airport (kind of high risk I think).
How did you deal with lease is it in a 4 names with co signers? Was there a rental broker fee? How about wifi? Utilities? Taking feedback for next year. Best wishes!

@waverlywizzard , we’ve done the off campus living stuff for two years now. Our experience was that it depends on the lease/landlord whether the students sign, or the parents have to co-sign. Some wanted one parent as the main contact or guarantor. Some didn’t have the parents involved at all. There were application fees to apply to get a showing anyplace, this was usually around $30 per person. The kids figured out the utility splits themselves, through Venmo (a money transferring app)…the utilities including wi fi were in one student’s name, he/she paid it and the others Venmo the money to that person each month.