All information provided courtesy of the Office of Off-Campus Living and Neighborhood Relations.
Types of Housing
Finding the right housing fit can be challenging. Consider these options when you are determining what type of housing option best fits your needs.
- Apartment Complex: A community of apartment units or town homes that is typically owned and managed by a private company.
- Single Unit Rental — Property Management Owned: A property that is independently owned but managed by a company.
- Single Unit Rental — Independently Owned: A property that is owned by an individual and is rented by that individual, also known as a landlord.
Click here for information about communities around USC-Columbia campus.
Off-campus rental amounts will vary greatly and will depend on the number of roommates and amenities provided. Living off campus can be very affordable, especially if you share costs with roommates. You should contact properties and landlords to get the costs as Off-Campus Living and Neighborhood Relation does not provide information on rental amounts for specific properties. When researching housing options, you need to consider not only the rent amount but also what is included and what additional costs you will incur each month. Keep in mind that rent might not be the only thing you have to pay. You may have to make separate payments for utilities (electricity, water, cable and Internet).
When you move off campus, budgeting your money becomes crucial, because you will have regular bills to pay. Making sure you set enough money aside to pay rent, utilities, cable and internet is vital for a successful off-campus living experience. Here are some things you should take into consideration before determining where you will live:
- Will you be able to afford rent for the duration of your lease?
- What is included in your rent? Are cable and Internet included, or do you have to pay extra?
- Does your rent include a utilities cap? If so, can you afford to pay for utilities if you exceed your cap?
- How long is your commute to campus from your desired place of residency? Can you afford to pay for gas?
- Does your off-campus community provide a shuttle to and from campus?
- What will food, school supplies and books cost? And how do those factor in to your other living costs?
- Will your residence be furnished, or will you have to purchase furniture? If the apartment/house is furnished, is there a fee associated with it?
Your budget should reflect your values and will be personal and unique to you. No one else can tell you how to spend your money -- those decisions are yours alone. A budget helps you be intentional about where you spend your funds, and this ensures you do not accidentally spend too much money on less important items. The Student Success Center Financial Literacy Program offers a college budget guide to help you get your spending on the right track, as well as complementary one-hour Moving Off-Campus consultations for students. Request a consultation.
Finding a Roommate
Relationships with roommates are similar to any other relationship -- they have their ups and downs. Some relationships fit perfectly and others need extra attention. Take the time to establish clear expectations and maintain open lines of communication to ensure harmony.
When picking a roommate, it is important to find someone you can see yourself getting along with and someone you feel comfortable sharing an apartment or house with. You should ask your prospective roommate questions about his/her cleanliness, apartment and house preferences, price range and personal habits prior to agreeing to live together. Ideally, your future roommate will be someone who has similar preferences and interests as you do.
Understanding Your Lease
Leasing or renting a place to live off campus can be a very exciting and positive experience, as well as confusing and overwhelming. Click here to see information and resources to help you understand your lease.
If you are a student at the University of South Carolina, you can meet with a lawyer through the Office of Off-Campus Living and Neighborhood Relations at no additional cost. If you are having trouble or difficulties with your landlord and it cannot be remedied between the tenant and landlord, you can schedule an appointment online.
Parking & Transportation
All vehicles that will be parked at University of South Carolina reserved spaces and lots should be registered with Vehicle Management and Parking Services. There are numerous lots around the area where a full-year pass to park is approximately $100. However, students also may choose to buy a garage parking pass. Garage and reserved spaces are reserved 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Garage passes are approximately $400 per semester. For more information about parking passes and decals, visit the Vehicle Management and Parking Services website.
Being a Good Neighbor
As a student at the University of South Carolina, you are expected to be a role model in and out of the classroom. Here are a few tips on how to be a good neighbor and enhance your off-campus experience:
- Get to know your neighbors. Introduce yourself when you move in.
- Maintain your unit. Make sure that you address disposing of trash properly, lawn care and parking with your roommates.
- Be respectful of your neighbors' property.
- Encourage neighbors to call you first with problems (i.e. noise, litter, parking).
Tips for Responsible Party Hosting:
- Develop a clean-up plan for after the party.
- Inform your neighbors about the party.
- Know your noise limit. Review your local noise policies and ordinances. A good rule of thumb is that if you are attracting guests because they could "hear" your party before they could see it, then your party is violating the noise ordinance.
- If possible, lock private doors such as bedrooms. You may consider hiding important valuables since thefts can occur at open parties.
- Keep the party under control by maintaining guests inside your unit. Keep a guest list at the entry door to protect yourself from any unwanted guests.
Remember that whether you are on or off campus, you are always a representative of the University of South Carolina and are held to the same standard as students living on campus. All incidents that occur off campus may be reported to the university by the police, a landlord, business owner and/or neighbors. Please take a few minutes to review the University of South Carolina Student Code of Conduct.
Before moving in, make sure that your new place is safe to live in. The City of Columbia has minimum standards that properties are required to meet. Keep these requirements in mind and personally check for the following before moving in:
- Make sure there is at least one window opens per room and there are no broken panes.
- Make sure all electrical fixtures and smoke detectors are working.
- Inspect for rodents & bugs.
- Make sure all appliances and the heat systems work.
- Make sure all plumbing fixtures are free of leaks and in sanitary and safe working condition.
- Open and close all doors and check that all locks work.
- Check for holes in ceilings and walls.
- See that the unit is clean.
- Inspect for mold and water damage.
- Find out who is responsible for the upkeep of the yard.
If you have any questions or concerns, take pictures and address them immediately by doing the following:
- Provide your landlord with a detailed description and pictures of the problems and keep a copy for yourself.
- Contact the City of Columbia Housing Inspection Office at 803-545-3430 to request an inspection.
- Reach out for legal advice or assistance with your issue.
Be sure to sign up for Carolina ALERT, the University's emergency notification system.
Download the free Rave Guardian Safety app that turns any smartphone into a personalized protection network.
Here are a few reminders and suggestions for practicing good safety procedures.
- Keep windows and doors locked at all times.
- Make sure smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and alarm systems are in good working order.
- Ensure that you have and use a peephole in your front door to identify visitors.
- Only let maintenance workers in when your landlord or property manager has notified you that they will be coming.
- Remove valuables in your vehicle and keep your car doors locked at all times. In addition, attempt to park in well-lit areas.
- Have your personal items and possessions registered with the USC Police Department. If they are stolen, this will make them easier to identify.
- Familiarize yourself with your neighborhood and/or apartment complex. Make note of entrances and exits.
- Don't walk alone after dark.
- If attacked or approached by someone suspicious, contact the police immediately by calling 911.
Law Enforcement Agencies
- City of Columbia: 803-545-3500 (general), 803-252-2911 (dispatch)
- Richland County Sherriff's Department: 803-576-35000
- Lexington County: 803-785-8320
- West Columbia Police: 803-794-0721
- Cayce Public Safety: 803-794-0456
- USC Police: 803-777-8400 (general), 803-777-4215 (dispatch)
- In an emergency: 911