Monthly Archives: April 2015

LIFE 101 FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM: Apartments, Roommates, & Renters’ Insurance—Oh My!

roommates apartments renters insurance
Photo by Brandon Hoover

It’s been 21 years since I finished college. For at least half that time, I’ve had a myriad of roommates (and colorful experiences), so believe me, I can really speak to this topic! After college, you’ll most likely move away from your parents place—especially if your new job is in a different city.

First, finding your new place: Consider living as close to work as you can. This will save not only gas, but time commuting to and from the company. If you have friends in the city where you’ll be living, ask them about where they live or other places they’ve heard recommended. Frequently, at convenience stores/gas stations or retailers like Target or Wal-Mart, there are racks of free Apartment Finder guides near the front door. You can also surf the web at places like,, or

Let’s say you simply want to find an apartment or house where the current renter needs a roommate. Again, your social media network is a great place to inquire. So start by seeing if anyone your network recommends needs a roommate or wants to partner with someone to find a place. I’ve had friends that had great luck with Craigslist. Here you can find many people that need a roommate.,, or are also options.

Obviously, consider if you can afford your part of the rent before you show up to check the places out. Then, inquire about the security deposit (how much it is and how much you’ll get back when you move out), and make sure both you and your roommates’ names are on the lease (so anyone failing to pay their portion can be held accountable.) Depending on how long you feel you’ll stay at that location, you can choose a 6 or 12 month lease—the more months, the lower the rent will be. Remember, depending on which living situation you choose, utilities will need to be assigned to one name, so you may want to split up who registers for what so it’s all not on you. The better your credit, the less likely a deposit will be required. Some places will not charge tenants for water or trash pickup.

Beyond the place, the people you live with are just as or more important a consideration! I’ve found that rooming with friends of friends or new acquaintances (e.g., people I met at musicians or association groups are the best since you have a common tie but aren’t long time friends.) Rooming with a close friend can tend to strain or mar the relationship since you add the stresses of dealing with cleaning, bills, noise, etc. to the mix when you live together.

Whoever you choose, remember that you’ll be not only sharing space, but dealing with division of chores, shared bills, the security of the place, safety of your things, and both of your friends and love interests. As an extra level of caution, or if you don’t have the luxury of being referred to someone by a friend, you could always try to run a background check on the people you consider.

Finally, whether you have roommates or not, it’s always a good idea to have renters’ insurance to protect your belongings in case of fire, theft, flood, etc. Renters’ insurance is specifically for those who do not own the place where they live and usually costs less than insurance on an owned residence. Shop around for the best price, and refer to my previous post on insurance for tips on doing so. Usually this is billed as one payment per year. I preferred the type that reimbursed me for the cost of replacement of my items vs. getting the current value of those items back. Check with the owner as to what’s covered, since you’ll want renters’ insurance in cases where the owners insurance doesn’t or is insufficient to cover the loss of your things.

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LIFE 101 FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM: Unpacking & Understanding Car, Life, & Health Insurance

car life health insurance
Photo by KnG Đà Nẵng/K&G Studio

Insurance may seem like a waste to some new grads, but it definitely comes in handy when disaster strikes. In this post, I’ll focus on three types: life, car, & health.

1. Life insurance – Personally, I don’t have a life insurance policy since I don’t have a spouse or children and have registered with my local public medical center for a body donation. But those with a family will probably want to leave them some funds for funeral costs, bills, debt reduction, a child’s college fund, etc. If life insurance is not offered by your employer, you can start by checking with your parents as far as finding good agent.

2. Car insuranceOnce you are no longer a dependent of or living with your parents, you must secure your own car insuranceThe cost of your car insurance will depend on many factors including your gender, where you live, and what you drive. The fewer accidents you claimed on your previous insurance you’ve had will help keep your rate down. Men can usually expect to pay a higher rate.

You may be able to get somewhat of a discount if you use the same insurance company your family does or if you use the same insurance company for as many of your different insurance policies as you can. You should be able to reduce your premium by paying your policy bi-annually or annually vs. monthly. Again, check with family or friends for a recommendation, and shop around for the best rate with an idea of how much you’d like your deductible (the amount you’re responsible for before insurance kicks in) to be.

3. Health InsuranceAt age 26, you must secure your own health insurance. Going without insurance is tempting fate, and your yearly tax return will eventually be impacted under the current healthcare law, effectively penalizing you for not carrying health insurance.

It’s always cheaper to take the health insurance offered by your employer than paying for your own independent policy, and insurance is usually not available to those who’s employers offer coverage. So get into your employer’s health and dental plans as soon as you’re eligible.

Depending on the plans offered, you can choose how much coverage you have. Usually the higher your deductible, the more you’ll pay before insurance kicks in (in the way of yearly minimums that must be met), but this can lower your monthly premium (how much your employer deducts from your pay for insurance.)

80/20 is a standard coverage figure you’ll often see meaning 80% of an expense (like an ER visit or surgery) is covered by insurance and 20% by you. Some employers offer Flex Spending Accounts, so look into taking advantage of that as well if you expect frequent doctor or specialist visits and/or needs for prescriptions. A significant savings on prescription drugs is included which is very handy for drugs that have high out of pocket costs (the cost to those with no insurance.)


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Looking for a new job? Want to get the one you want faster? Check out my new book, Here Today, Hired Tomorrow.