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After two years of unlucky breaks with on-campus living you’ve finally decided to move off campus. Now it’s time to face your biggest challenge –– convincing your parents it’s both affordable and safe.

Step one: strike a balance between the number of roommates in your house and rent costs. Some of your potential roomies might need to know the cost of rent upfront. But unless you’ve already settled on a location, the exact cost is probably unclear. Finding a place that fits everyone at a good price is an art.

Be prepared for the hassle that is monthly rent. Collecting rent checks is not a fun activity, especially if your landlord requires the amount paid in a single check, but it’s part of the cost of living off campus.

Step two: get discounts on your furniture. Unless you’re one of the few students with a car on campus, ask the previous tenants if they are interested in selling that living room set. Chances are they’re just as eager to lug all that heavy furniture around Philadelphia as you would be.

If they aren't interested, many Penn students try and save money by visiting IKEA on 2206 S. Columbus Blvd. to buy some inexpensive tables, dressers or chairs.

Step three: be honest with your parents about the costs and benefits. Yes, a door lock is not the same thing as a PennCard swipe machine and a security guard. And yes, this might be a struggle for those of us with parents that cringe at the thought of us even walking past 40th Street.

Just remind them of all the benefits — the ability to choose your own room, to decorate it however you like and to examine the building and neighborhood before signing a lease.

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