CHHS Student Success Center

Financial Readiness


Buying vs. Renting: Conventional wisdom is that buying is better in the long run. But you typically have to commit to living in the same home for 5-10 years minimum (regardless of any life changes, the housing market falls, you change your job, etc.) to see a financial advantage. In that time, you will need to recoup the following approximated costs: buying closing costs of $2,500-4,000, maintenance and/or repair costs, selling closing costs of $2,500, and realtor fees of 5-6% of the sale price. Buying a home can be a better financial decision if you own for longer, the rental costs in your area are inflated, and/or the market is rising. Both renting and buying are fine choices if you run the numbers or use the NY Times Calculator. For a more in depth review, see Khan Academy.

  • 0% Down: Although it's tempting, it can be very risky. If you must sell your house within the first few years for any reason (loss of job, divorce, etc.), you may have to pay money just to sell your house. It is highly recommended that you have 20% (or at least 10%) of the home's worth for a down payment.

Finding a Rental: Use,,,, Trulia / Zillow, or local realty company. Read the lease!!! If you don't understand something, ask. Moving to a new city - try a cost of living calculator.

Movers: If you need help moving, call a moving company or a university that has students willing to help. Also, you can get free boxes from grocery stores and ABC stores.

Change Addresses: Credit Cards, Bank Accounts, Student Loans, Insurance Companies, Retirement Funds, Magazines/Newspapers, DMV (car regist. & license), Post Office, Cable/Satellite and Internet, Phone, Utilities; etc.

Renters Insurance: At about $10 per month, it covers personal property inside the home, and often it covers lawsuits against you due to accidents, injury, or property damage.

Housing/Apartment Checklist: Visit during the day, night, and weekend to evaluate the following:

  • Carpet/Flooring
  • Paint, Walls and Ceiling
  • Water Damage (bathroom, kitchen, under sinks)
  • Doors (do they open/close easily)
  • Noise Level (mainly when you will be home)
  • Windows, Screens and Blinds
  • Pests
  • Parking
  • Security and Outside Lighting
  • A/C and Heating
  • Appliances and Garbage Disposal
  • Water Pressure and how Hot/Cold it is
  • Toilet Flushes Properly
  • Cell Phone Reception
  • Amenities (fitness room, pool, laundry, etc.)
  • Location / Nearby Attractions
  • Security Deposit
  • Penalty for Breaking Lease
  • Pet rules/deposit
  • Commute during busy times
  • Ask for average utility costs
  • Ask neighbors what they think are the pros and cons of the area
  • Cleanliness and upkeep of neighborhood
  • Neighborhood amenities (walking/biking trails, close to things you want to do, etc.)