At UF, it is common for students to begin their search for next year’s housing very early in the school year. Sometimes, students sign a lease as early as September of the year prior to move-in. While this might seem very preemptive, there are clear benefits to signing a lease early at UF.
At Sweetwater, we often get questions about when students should start looking for housing and when the best time to sign a lease is.
Most students agree that signing a lease as early as you comfortably and confidently can is the best thing to do. So, we created this list so you can see more clearly how you would benefit from signing a lease earlier rather than later.
Read Next: 8 Steps to Finding an Apartment at UF
How early is “early?”
Everyone’s personal definition of “early” can vary depending on where you’re living and what type of properties you’re looking at.
In general, most UF students aim to sign a lease by the end of October. Especially for student housing apartments near campus, which tend to be more popular and sell out sooner, students should be certain of where they want to live by September/October.
New developments typically start leasing 18 months before their delivery date. For example, if the property is going to be complete by August 2023, the apartment will begin leasing around February/March.
If you sign a lease at an apartment near the UF campus 10 months (or more) before moving in, it can be considered signing “early” by most people in the market. But, if you’re considering a new development you can begin the lease-signing process as early as 18 months before.
So, what does all of this mean for you? If you want a prime spot in a new development your senior year, you might consider signing a lease during the spring of your sophomore year.
5 Benefits to Signing Your Lease Early
1. Best Rates
One of the biggest benefits to signing your lease early is getting the best rate for your apartment.
Newer student housing apartments near the UF campus tend to offer their best rates when you sign a lease early. Typically, newer apartment complexes offer leases in a tier system.
When leasing first opens, rates will be at their lowest. Once a certain amount of apartments are leased at the lowest prices, the prices will slightly increase to the next tier. So, aside from the occasional flash sale or rate drop, rates will be lowest when leasing first opens.
Parking can be the biggest challenge near the UF campus. Even though there are many parking options near campus, that doesn’t necessarily make the process easier.
Most newer student housing apartments near campus offer parking at an additional cost. However, most apartments do not have enough parking spots for every resident, so parking is offered on a first come, first serve basis.
Since parking is often limited near campus, you might not get a parking spot at your apartment if you sign too late.
If you are certain you are going to bring your car to school, you will definitely want to consider signing early so that you don’t risk having to find another parking option.
Read Next: Ultimate Guide to Parking near UF
3. Choice of Apartment
The earlier you sign your lease, the more apartment units are still available, which gives you more choice in the apartment you will live in.
Typically, the least expensive units and the most popular layouts are leased the earliest at student housing apartments near campus. Looking at all of the floor plan options and finding which layout is most functional for you and your roommates will make the lease signing process easier and faster.
Most places only have a limited number of units with balconies, premium amenities, etc. If some extra features are important to you, you may want to consider signing early to make sure that they are still available. However, these add-ons will typically cost you more on a monthly basis, so keep this in mind when budgeting for your living expenses.
If you’re interested in a popular floor plan or view (overlooking the UF campus versus the apartment courtyard), these often lease up quickly and may not be available if you wait too long.
There will be more availability in room choice at student housing apartment complexes near campus when you sign your lease early.
Student housing apartments typically offer floor plans that have varying features depending on your room. For example, in a four-bedroom, four-bathroom apartment (4×4), it is possible that two of the bedrooms will have windows, and two of the bedrooms will not include a window.
At some student housing apartments, the rent price will be higher for the roommates who have a window in their rooms, but for others, the price will be the same. So, it is important to ask about the specific pricing at the apartments that you are interested in.
4. Start Planning Sooner
If you sign your lease earlier, you can start planning how you’re going to decorate your communal spaces and your personal spaces, as well as planning for parking or pet fees.
Decorating your apartment can be one of the most fun parts of living in college. Students tend to have much different design requests than adult apartment living. For example, many students have bar carts and extra seating options for parties.
Students often love to use Pinterest to create a virtual vision board for decorating apartments. And, leasing early gives you more time to plan and buy all of the decorations that you want for your unit. Knowing how much money you need to pay for decorations will allow you to properly save up for them.
Leasing early also allows you to plan for if you want a pet or not. Most student housing apartments allow you to have a pet at an additional cost.
5. Roommate Choice
If you sign your lease early, you will also have more options when selecting your roommate(s).
As time goes on, more people are set in their living arrangements, so you will have a smaller pool of potential roommates over time.
If you know who you want to live with and you’ve all decided to live together, you will be able to have your choice of roommates added on to your unit by the leasing associates at your student housing complex when you sign your lease. And, if you have a large group of friends who all want to live close to each other, you can try to all live on the same floor, which is more likely if you sign early.
If you’re not sure who you want to room with, don’t worry – you have plenty of time to make your decision.
However, one important thing to know is if you’re going to be signing earlier than your potential roommates, make sure to tell your leasing associate when you sign your lease so that they don’t match another person to your room. To avoid this small possibility, it’s best for you and your roommates to all sign your leases at the same time.
On the other hand, if you would like to be matched with a roommate who has similar preferences, most student housing apartment complexes offer a roommate-matching survey.
Either way, signing earlier will enable you to have a better choice in who you will be living with for the upcoming school year.
We hope this article helped explain the benefits of leasing early at a student housing apartment near campus. At Sweetwater, we’ve helped many students with the lease signing process, so if you have any questions, please contact the leasing staff at Sweetwater who would be happy to help you on your student housing journey.