What is your Budget?
Living off-campus does not have to be more expensive than living on-campus unless you want to live in a high end/luxury apartment. Knowing your monthly budget is critical before signing a lease. Talk to your parents and/or financial aid about what you have for monthly rent before apartment searching. You may want certain features but simply cannot afford them; it is important to understand what amenities you want/need in an apartment but also what you can afford.
All-inclusive apartments vs. apartments where you pay your own utilities?
All-inclusive apartments usually mean that all utilities are included in the lease. Common utilities found in these apartments include electricity, gas, heating and cooling, and internet. Some could even include cable, a fitness center, or pool access. Instead of receiving multiple bills, in an all-inclusive apartment, everything will be included in just your one rent bill. However, this does not mean you can take advantage of over using your utilities. When reviewing an all-inclusive lease, there will be a utility cap for certain utilities (water, heat, cooling, and electricity). If you go over the utility cap found in your lease, you will receive an extra bill with the difference owed. Make sure to manage your utility usage by talking to your landlord about utility caps before signing an all-inclusive apartment lease.
When you have a "pay your own utilities" lease, multiple bills will be coming to your mailbox. You will have to pay your rent, gas, electricity, water, and internet utility bills. With this type of lease, you have more control over the amount you pay or type of utility package. Make sure to sign a lease that works best for you and your roommates, and your budget.
Brainstorm five costs that you may have as part of your off-campus living budget (-groceries, gas, parking permit, etc).