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Moving off-campus (long post)
Old 03-21-2012, 01:48 AM   #1
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Moving off-campus (long post)

Can't get much more "Young Dreamer" than this. But mods, feel free to move it to whatever forum you deem appropriate.

I could use any helpful hints, tips, or tricks from those of you in the Houston area... or those of you who've parented college students and managed 529 accounts.

Rice University has been expanding its student body faster than their dorms. Every year each dorm has to figure out who's living on campus and who's moving off, whether it's via lottery or some other selection process. However some of the students volunteer to go off-campus just to get away from the dorm drunks, the stoners, and the jerks who set off 2 AM fire alarms. (Hey, these are some of America's smartest drunks, stoners, & jerks.) Moving off-campus also makes sense for other reasons. One of their dorm rooms had a pretty significant A/C & mold problem this year, and our daughter's getting tired of the few miscreants who disrupt the entire dorm with their sophomoric party behavior after midnight.

For most of those reasons, our daughter has volunteered to move off-campus at the end of sophomore year. Perhaps she has more reasons that she doesn't care to share with dear ol' Dad, but she hasn't volunteered and I'm not asking.

Let me proclaim up front that none of this is my problem. She's figuring it out on her own, and so far it seems to be going well. Rice staff & students have a whole advisory system set up to support their "OC" students, and she's using that. She has a huge network of RAs, masters, residents, and advisers. However a college campus tends to lack a perspective of anything longer than 3-4 years.

She might as well learn about the surprises of apartment living now, before she's an ensign at nuclear power school with no time to learn from scratch. She's earned the privilege. She's doing good on her grades and in NROTC, and she's much better at handling the finances than she was a year ago. She's also operating at absolute max throttle and max dynamic airframe stress, so she might as well find some other way to make her life even more challenging. What a nuke.

As parents, we'd prefer that she not feel financially constrained to live next to a meth lab. It seems reasonable to subsidize her to the tune of what we'd be paying Rice for room & board ($12,700/year). She has summer school and NROTC summer training lined up with another Rice student, so the two of them have applied for an apartment lease starting 1 May (in five weeks). By August they're talking about eventually splitting the rent among three or four students in a 2BR2BA floorplan of 1200 sq ft. It looks like it costs $1550-$1600/month. The apartment complex is about a mile from campus. It has a website with pretty pictures and the property managers seem familiar with Rice students. (I know this because I had to sign the lease guarantee.) She has a campus rep of being savvy with money so I think this will force her to learn to assert herself when her roommates have to cough up their rent checks.

We've encouraged her to live out of her seabag and go really cheap on furniture because this is a bad time to be saddled with material possessions. Once she graduates from Rice she'll spend 15 months in nuclear submarine training (at two different places) and then basically "live" aboard a sub until she gets qualified. (Even on a surface ship she'd be "encouraged" to spend lots of time onboard improving her knowledge.) Add in weekend duty & six-month deployments, and she really doesn't need much from an apartment or furnishings until she rotates to shore duty. Luckily she enjoys home decor challenges and she's enamored of this article she saw on making a bed out of old pallets + a futon. If that's her HGTV style then she'll have no problem finding dumpster furniture.

It's been suggested (by other "helpful" parents) that we should buy her a condo to sublease to her roommates, and then in a few years we could unload the real estate for landlord cap gains. We're experienced landlords, but I'm skeptical that Houston real estate would treat us so well in just two years.

Any other advice or surprises with moving off-campus?

Back in the early 1990s (when wooly mammoths roamed the Web) we saved for her college education with EE & I education bonds. Their interest is tax-free when redeemed for qualified tuition programs. However our daughter got herself an NROTC scholarship to pay all her tuition expenses, and we can't redeem the bonds tax-free for room & board. The legal loophole is to redeem the bonds, roll them over to a 529 account (another qualified tuition program) and then disburse the 529 funds for room & board. Now that she's living OC, I want to disburse the 529 funds directly to her (the only beneficiary) by electronic fund transfer to her checking account. Fidelity's 529 billpay program is perfectly happy to let me enter Rice's address to send dorm payments, but the program doesn't offer an EFT/ACH option to a personal checking account. I'm working on that with Fidelity's customer service now.

I discovered a nasty little tax caveat at:
Avoid These 529 Withdrawal Traps
Quote:
An excess 529 withdrawal includes room and board costs in excess of the amount the school includes in its "cost of attendance" figures for federal financial aid purposes. If your student is living off campus, ask the financial aid department for the room and board allowance for students living off campus. If the student is living in campus-owned dormitories, the amount you can include in QHEE is the amount the school charges for its room and board.
Even if you've properly accounted for all qualifying expenses, and withdraw from your 529 account only enough to pay for those expenses, you may end up with a non-qualified distribution. This happens because of the coordination rules (AKA anti-double-dipping rules) surrounding the various education tax incentives. You must remove from your total QHEE any of the tuition expense that is used to generate an American Opportunity tax credit or a Lifetime Learning credit. For example, if you claim a $2,500 American Opportunity credit on a federal tax return you must remove from QHEE the $4,000 in tuition and related expenses that was used to support the credit.
Rice's financial aid website lists the "cost of attendance" at the same $12,700, so that's OK. However I need to check our 529 withdrawals and total college expenses against the tax credits. Luckily I'm still working on our 2011 tax returns, although I may have screwed up 2010's tax credits.

Next she plans to buy a car. In the middle of America's fourth-largest city, barely a mile off-campus. Luckily this is also not my problem because we raised her on a "Kid 401(k)" savings plan that produced $5000 on her 16th birthday for "my first car". She's held on to that money (in PenFed CDs). I guess she could also tap her Roth IRA contributions, assuming I was dumb enough to tell her how to do that.

Instead I've pointed out MrMoneyMustache.com articles on bicycle kiddie trailers and the concept of "frugal badassity". I'm working up an epic e-mail on "Dad's Guide to Buying a Used Car for Under $5000" that's probably going to equate to "2002 Honda Civic". The reality is that the Texas DOT may make car ownership too much of a hassle. She has to decide whether to register the car with Hawaii plates (her aloha preference, but Hawaii taxes military pay) or whether to become a Texas resident (Texas does not tax military pay) and register the car in Texas. It's possible that Texas might also require a 19-year-old to take a road test for a Texas driver's license, and she's researching all of that.

Rice has a campus version of Craigslist ("OwlList") that would help her locate a good used car. I'm also teaching her about CarFax, Consumer Reports, Kelly Blue Book & Edmunds, and a mechanic's inspection. When we visit her next month I'll also show her how to check out a car, although one of her gearhead friends will probably take care of that.

Again as parents we'd pay the insurance (until she graduates). She won't get comprehensive or collision, of course, but we'd spring for towing insurance. She'd have to pay her own roadside assistance. And registration. And taxes. And campus parking. And gas. She already knows how to change the oil.

Any other surprises about buying a good used car in Houston?

Once she has her bad self set up in her OC crib, perhaps with her dream ride, is there anything else she should watch out for?
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Old 03-21-2012, 02:21 AM   #2
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I only know what I remember about our daughter's first move into an apartment the summer after she finished high school, back in the Dark Ages.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
Any other advice or surprises with moving off-campus?
Three things:

1) We had to co-sign the lease for her apartment, since she was barely 18. We reminded her that she would need a deposit for electricity, water, and so on, and that she would need to find out what utilities she needed to pay for and to have turned on.

2) It helps to be extremely considerate of her privacy. With this in mind, it would probably be advisable to not call until at least noon on the weekends, to give her a chance to catch up on her sleep if she has been studying late the rest of the week.

3) The biggest surprise, and this was a big one for us - - hold on to your hat - - the biggest surprise is that really, everything will go smoothly all by itself, even without the parents doing much of anything. Most kids this age just love the chance to do things themselves and show how independant they are. Your daughter is a very accomplished young lady, and she will have a great time living in her apartment. She probably already knows other students who are moving off campus. She may have already found a nice roommate and even friends to help her move. I am confident that she is smart enough to rent a suitable place for her and her roommate that is not next to a meth lab.

Congratulations! Your little girl is making a big step.
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Old 03-21-2012, 03:16 AM   #3
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My daughter moved off campus starting her sophomore year. She and 3 mates rent a house that is owned by one of her friends parents. As a parent, we had to co-sign the lease which seems to be pretty standard nowadays. The rent is paid in 6-month increments much like on-campus lodging. She does not have a car, but her roommate does. Her situation is cheaper than paying for on-campus R&B. Her lease is 12 months, so I do not expect to see her home in the summer. Indeed, I told her not to come home since we had already paid for her summer abode. She is gone and grown up and except for our money is on her own.

In the old days when I was a student, one didn't need their parent to co-sign a lease. I lived on-campus for 3 years, off-campus in the summers and grad school. I never had a car. My roommates had cars though. So if your daughter gets a car, expect her to lend it to her roommates. As far as Hawaii vs Texas residency, your daughter is already a Texan. I see no reason for her not to live in Texas, vote in Texas, have a drivers license in Texas, become a resident of Texas, drink in Texas, etc.

Whether you buy a house in Houston that your daughter lives in with roommates is a financial decision you have to make. In the immediate Rice area, home prices are inflated due to the doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs that like to live there. The nearby med center keeps house prices from dropping. I am not a landlord type and would not do it myself, but maybe you would. I suggest that your daughter sign no more than a 1-year lease and look every year to move. That will give her plenty of experience with dealing with landlords and different housing situations such as flooding in Houston. If you become your daughter's landlord, then she becomes your rep which is another job for her.

As for furnishings, girls seem to have more than boys. We had mattresses on the floor, old rugs, cinder block plus board shelves, and cardboard boxes. One could buy entire belongings of graduating students to fill their room if they wanted. Girls somehow had nicer parents who gave them things, so their apartments were better furnished.

Your post has brought back many fond memories of living in 7 different places over 6 years. Most of our roommates during those times are lifelong friends that we still see routinely. I married one of my roommates.

Anyways, I'm rambling. I forget, did you have any specific questions?
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Old 03-21-2012, 03:49 AM   #4
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My parents and I purchased my student appartment. But I met DH within one year and after two more years we looked for a bigger place for the 2 of us.
My parents used the appartment one more year as a city pad, but then we sold.
We had no desire to become (absentee) landlords.
Financially it worked out just so that we could have rented instead, no loss, no gain.
The pro was that I could live in a nice environment instead of typical student housing.
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Old 03-21-2012, 05:07 AM   #5
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Both our kids are at universities in the UK, where you typically only get one year in college accommodation. After that, it's been shared rented houses, and discovering the meaning of pitching in (and how some people are rather better at it than others).

They've both done fine, and neither had anything like the discipline to be accepted for the military in any form, let alone a nuclear submarine. They have always been keener on clean houses than DW and I, though, so we didn't worry that they would end up in a place with a week's dishes in the sink.
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Old 03-21-2012, 07:53 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post

Once she has her bad self set up in her OC crib, perhaps with her dream ride, is there anything else she should watch out for?
Boys?

My daughter graduated college a few years ago and did fine with the OC living (in Manhattan and Brooklyn). I agree that the less you accumulate the better. It was a PITA hauling all her junk back to DC when she made the inevitable post grad temporary home move. Sounds like you may dodge that since your daughter has Navy commitments lined up.

I'm amazed at the amount of detail you can handle. Are you using Ritalin in ER?
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Old 03-21-2012, 08:04 AM   #7
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There's a lot of the college experience that happens on campus or around the dorms in the evenings. You might want to be sure this place is convenient enough to get back and forth that a) she won't miss out on activities and involvement because she lives too far away. and b) that returning home late after being on campus for evening functions is safe.

The closer to campus the better for off-campus housing.
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Old 03-21-2012, 10:04 AM   #8
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as you probably already know, heading west of Rice is much better "neighborhood wise" than just about any other cardinal direction from the campus. And it will also land you in one of the most expensive areas of Houston, real estate wise. And, it's probably where most of the kids go to drink and party.

I agree with the "frugal badassity" of a bicycle. I commuted by bicycle for two years in houston, and that was to/from downtown to/from the heights area. While I did have a slight fender bender 2 weeks before I moved away which left me with some "contusions" in the rib area, I would still be riding a bicycle if I was unfortunate to find myself still living there.

When I had to buy a car in college for commuting to my internship in Houston, my father and I played the dealer's favorite game with them. I was in the trenches taking all the heat and my father was a few states away. We played their game, they threw out their price and I threw out mine. They then took it to the Boss, who rejected it and they came back with another. I'd ask for a minute, and I'd call my boss who would reject their offer and I'd come back for another. Eventually, they figured out I wasn't going to turn against my own blood (and the financier of whole operation) by begging him to accept their price so I could get out of there and they asked to speak directly to my father. I asked for a minute to call my father to see if that was alright. Finally, we had the bosses talking directly to each other while the salesman and I ate popcorn from the trenches. My phone rang, my father told me to walk out and I didn't hesitate. On the way to door, they gave the car to us for whatever we initially asked for. I can't help but admit, it was kinda fun. And it certainly prepared me for the next car I was to buy sans my father but not the walking out.

Also, I believe Texas will transfer 18+ DL from other states with just an eye exam. I had let mine lapse before I moved to Texas and it was a huge mistake. I had to go one day, stand in line, fill out paperwork, take a test, wait to get a piece of paper so I could take the behind the wheel test. Unfortunately, those tests are only available by appointment only. To make an appointment, you had to show up in person for the day of the test only. No scheduling days a head of time. And with only x # of slots in the teens, that meant people start lining up around 5:30 am to ensure they get a slot. So I show up the next day at 5:30 to sign up and I was like the 5th person in line (the DMV opened at 8 IIRC). I get my crappy slot at the end of the day and had to come back at 3:30 or something highly inconvenient for those who work a 9-5. Then, they go over the car with a fine tooth comb before they'll even get in your car by making sure it is road safe, no cracked windshield, inspection & registration is up to date, insurance card in hand etc. After the behind the wheel, it's back to waiting in line for the rest of paperwork and processing to finally be handed a DL. If one must do this circus act for a TX DL, it will make a bicycle seem like a dream and crawling over broken glass a more reasonable commute.
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Old 03-21-2012, 10:33 AM   #9
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I moved off campus after my freshman year in the dorms. We shared a 2 BR 2 BA 1200 sf condo between 4 of us, so the rent was ridiculously low ($600 split 4 ways). Utils were dirt cheap as well - electricity, cable, phone were all we had and they were under $40 per resident. Quick math says I probably paid around $2200 for a whole year of "room" and food wasn't that much either. This was back when the dorms were around $5000 a year per person for a shared room and en suite bathrooms shared between 8 dudes. On campus dining plan was another $3000-5000 depending on which option you picked. And the on campus room and board was only 9 months and didn't include summer or winter break so you had to flop somewhere, or sublet for a few months or move back with dead ole mom and dad (or go to Mexico...).

Overall I would say a frugal person could really slash the on campus prices (if $12700 is the going rate these days). Although rent where I went to college wasn't as high as what you quoted Nords, at least not in the "college accommodations" we stayed in. But lifestyle inflation has struck and I am aware that much nicer places exist today that cater to the college crowd vs what was on my radar as a self funded student back in 1999.

I wouldn't hesitate to suggest to my daughters (still ~10 years from college) that they consider off campus housing if they can do it much cheaper than on campus. Although one year of on campus was a good experience for me (and I was happy to get out of there after 1 year of it...).

As for rent vs buy, that was a debate that was around back when I was in school too. It is all about timing, and I think most parents that bought a condo and rented out the extra bedrooms did ok, but that was in a real estate market that went up some. During grad school I bought my own condo for 3 years and did very well on the sale (after doing some work to fix it up), even renting it for a profit for a few years after I finished school. Again, I was lucky/patient with the timing of the sale.

I would say let your daughter pursue what she wants to do, and undergrad off campus living is very common at least in the college markets I am familiar with. Good introduction to real world concerns.

As for car, I went through most of school bumming rides until I bought my own car with scholarship money. It really helped get around to extracurriculars and "extracurriculars". And the occasional job interview. 2002 honda civic sounds about right. I went with the 2000 model myself (still driving it today!).
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Old 03-21-2012, 11:52 AM   #10
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Whew! So exciting!
The only caveat I'd share with her is to draw up an agreement with potential roommates that spells out, in precise and crystal clear language, what happens when they are late coughing up the rent. How many days is late, when is it due, are partial payments accepted, is there late fee, and finally, when will their stuff get put out by the road and the room rented to someone else.
She probably can handle some of this, thanks to seeing how you handle renters, but it is much harder to navigate this with friends who matter to her socially.
I'd skip buying, let her rent and work it out, but be prepared to help her address the potentially sticky problems that come up with co-housing.
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Old 03-21-2012, 12:17 PM   #11
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Whew! So exciting!
The only caveat I'd share with her is to draw up an agreement with potential roommates that spells out, in precise and crystal clear language, what happens when they are late coughing up the rent. How many days is late, when is it due, are partial payments accepted, is there late fee, and finally, when will their stuff get put out by the road and the room rented to someone else.
She probably can handle some of this, thanks to seeing how you handle renters, but it is much harder to navigate this with friends who matter to her socially.
I'd skip buying, let her rent and work it out, but be prepared to help her address the potentially sticky problems that come up with co-housing.
This post reminded me about how we were stiffed by an ever so sweet roommate who was a friend of DW's. She decided she was done rooming with us around March or April as the academic semester was wrapping up. She never formally said "I am moving out", but rather just slowly moved a few things out here and there and just didn't show up much at the condo.

Our lease ran through July. She slow paid for a while, and we eventually were on the hook for a couple hundred bucks of rent for July. Her take was that, hey, she wasn't using the place and she didn't want to pay any more. She never let us know that she was vacating, never attempted to sublet her room, never asked us to sublet her room or asked us to pay for her share. Just kinda screwed us. Small change at the time. I eventually threatened to sue her in a strongly worded letter, and we received a check the next week for payment in full. Flakely ex-friend.

So yes, get ready to get stiffed as a worst case, and let your DD let her roommates know that she is their landlord and dependent on their rent payments to keep from all of them getting evicted.
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Old 03-21-2012, 01:43 PM   #12
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The young 'un and her roommate moved off campus their sophomore year. They did all the research, including police reports, and decided on a furnished apartment complex next to Baylor. They liked the proximity to campus because they could walk to classes and not fight for parking at football games.

The girls had been good friends since middle school and had roomed together their freshman year in the dorm. We knew her parents and they knew us and we were all in sync about basic rules. Each girl had their own car so transportation wasn't an issue. The girls has strict rules from both sets of parents that NO ONE else, besides each other, could drive the other's car because of liability issues.

The apartment worked out well because they had similar values. They took school seriously. They liked a neat apartment. Dishes were washed as used (although sometimes I suspect it was just a little bit of soap and running water). Bathrooms were kept clean. The downstairs was kept dusted and vacuumed. They liked order.

I think the greatest benefit to their relationship, besides being such good friends for so long, is they each had their own bedroom. Both girls are only children and were used to privacy. They would visit friends in nearby apartments and appreciate not having the chaos of too many diverse roommates in one space.


Now that I've laid all that out, I have a few thoughts.
  • Get a quote on car insurance based in Houston before you commit. It's very expensive there. Houston has mass transit and she can check on routes.
  • If she does get a car and lets other people drive it, you're on the hook for an accident.
  • I gather from previous posts she is an only child. Unless she has always lamented she wanted numerous siblings, three roommates may be overwhelming to her. I'm sure you've already discussed this with her.
  • Will her roommates have her same values? Even though she's got a good head on her shoulders, she's still young and might be influenced (somewhat) by people who do not have similar values.
  • Make sure your homeowner's policy will cover her. If not, have her get a renters policy from USAA.
This is an exciting time in her life. I'm sure she'll do well. The only real flag I see is the number of roommates.
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Old 03-21-2012, 02:20 PM   #13
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I hear car insurance in TX is a bear due to uninsured drivers (who may also be undocumented). I would incentivize the bike.

I wouldn't buy either. Why complicate your life. My parents did that with my brother when he was in law school. They were lucky to break even.

Besides, you want her to learn to pay rent, not pay a mortgage since her early career is going to require her to move a lot, thus, she shouldn't be oriented towards buying. Teach her that paying rent is no different than paying interest/insurance/taxes in terms of the "throwing your money away" concept.
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Old 03-21-2012, 08:18 PM   #14
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Hmm. It has been 24 years since we lived in Houston.

I would not recommend a bike, between heavy rains and traffic safety. Go for a car with a remote radio key. Texas plates; she does not want to stand out. Teach her to lock the damn doors. She should have someone with her, too, so roommates sound OK. She can be caught by surprise, even if she has a black belt.

Houston, even around Rice, can be seriously dangerous for a young woman. Please pay attention to security, especially at the parking at both ends. I would check with campus security and the police if possible for comments and advice. I have always found institutions (say, Rice) are very self-serving with respect to security questions, so if they say no problems, be wary.

How are her street smarts?
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Old 03-21-2012, 09:30 PM   #15
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My daughter lived at home or on campus during undergraduate. When she went to Law & Grad school I found her a furnished condo to rent which she rented out the extra bedroom a couple of semesters. She then went into a house after 2 years and split the rent with a friend. Finally she found her own place.

She always had the leases in her name only, with the exception of the house. I read and negotiated the first lease, however, being a law student she soon was able to do that for herself.

I gave her my car and titled it into her name.

I had considered the condo purchase route, however, it was in Miami just before the housing bubble burst. I thought that prices were too high and there might be a problem selling.

She had an occasional problem with the getting the landlord to repair things. Everything else went pretty well.
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Old 03-21-2012, 10:30 PM   #16
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Looks to me like the bases have been covered by the posts above. Based on the details in the OP and the cautions above, I'd say it's not something to lose sleep over.

Our experience: DD lived off campus (Portland OR) her last 3 semesters (plus the summer in between). She's worked through the deadbeat roommate and nasty landlord issues on her own. We gave her a budget of the equivalent on-campus expenses (2 semesters divided by 12) and did a bank transfer of that amount to her each month. She made it work and banked some to boot.

DS will be a senior this fall (in PA) and already has a lease on a house with 3 friends starting this summer. Same financial arrangements apply. We reviewed the lease for him at his request, it was pretty standard so nothing worth commenting on.

In both cases the kids were under 21 at the time of lease signing and we were never asked to sign anything. But a big city like Houston is probably different.
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Old 03-21-2012, 11:25 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by FUEGO View Post
....... so you had to flop somewhere, or sublet for a few months or move back with dead ole mom and dad (or go to Mexico...).
I would think any option would be preferable to the Mom and Dad route. Oh my.
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Old 03-21-2012, 11:59 PM   #18
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Thanks for all the tips. I think this is going to work out OK, but we're stretching the limits of our ability to offer good advice.

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3) The biggest surprise, and this was a big one for us - - hold on to your hat - - the biggest surprise is that really, everything will go smoothly all by itself, even without the parents doing much of anything.
I'm countin' on it!

I never had to live "off campus". I lived in the world's largest dormitory where our every whim was catered to-- I never even had to do laundry. They had a barber shop in the basement with "free" haircuts. (Deducted from our midshipman credit accounts.) Food & beverages were available 24/7. In fact, there were a few restriction musters months where I never even left the campus.

So I'm vicariously thrilled with her experience while knowing next to nothing about the process.

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2) It helps to be extremely considerate of her privacy. With this in mind, it would probably be advisable to not call until at least noon on the weekends, to give her a chance to catch up on her sleep if she has been studying late the rest of the week.
I can't believe how harsh some of the parents are about this. I know one mother who expects her texts to be responded to within four hours "or else".

We e-mail back & forth a few times a month and talk on the phone maybe twice a semester. Usually she calls us. Sometimes we go a month without hearing from her.

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I think the greatest benefit to their relationship, besides being such good friends for so long, is they each had their own bedroom. Both girls are only children and were used to privacy. They would visit friends in nearby apartments and appreciate not having the chaos of too many diverse roommates in one space.
She lived freshman year with one roommate one semester, then in a 2BR quad with three other girls the next semester. This year they've roomed in a 4BR "cottage" that has two common rooms and a communal bathroom. Seven other girls have kept "sexile" from being an issue, and frankly the guys seem intimidated about visiting a cottage that has eight hot chicks. (Or else they warn the boys to stay away when Mommy & Daddy are visiting.) Worst case is just her and one other girl in a 2BR apartment, but they seem motivated to split the rent at least three ways. I think she knows that she's getting $12,700/year for room & board and can keep whatever she shares with roommates.

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Now that I've laid all that out, I have a few thoughts.
  • Get a quote on car insurance based in Houston before you commit. It's very expensive there. Houston has mass transit and she can check on routes.
  • If she does get a car and lets other people drive it, you're on the hook for an accident.
  • Make sure your homeowner's policy will cover her. If not, have her get a renters policy from USAA.
This is an exciting time in her life. I'm sure she'll do well. The only real flag I see is the number of roommates.
We'll do the insurance through USAA, and it'll probably just be the same as our policy. Houston has mass transit but it's either inconvenient or scary, even to me. Memorial Hermann Hospital ER on a Friday night is not for the faint of heart.
USAA's policy covers loaning the car to other drivers. Now if she was turning a few extra bucks by renting it to other students, that'd be a problem.
Renter's insurance has been expensive! I think she's been quoted $180/year for about $3000 of possessions-- a Macbook, an iPhone, a bunch of military uniforms. Her civilian clothes and a few sticks of furniture have come from Goodwill or sales. She's probably going to blow off renter's insurance until she has a few rooms of decent furniture.

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Boys?
From what she's shared with my spouse, she's been pretty disappointed with the gender. Too much drama, maintenance, & hassle. My recent e-book, "Dad's Guide to What Teenage Guys Are Thinking", appears to have done its work.

I think she's also overloaded herself with academics, extra courses for "fun", and NROTC. There doesn't seem to be much time for hanging out.

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Originally Posted by donheff View Post
I'm amazed at the amount of detail you can handle. Are you using Ritalin in ER?
Are you kidding? ER is a lot easier than active duty. I think Ritalin is synthesized from the bodily fluids of nukes...

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Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy View Post
Hmm. It has been 24 years since we lived in Houston.
I would not recommend a bike, between heavy rains and traffic safety. Go for a car with a remote radio key. Texas plates; she does not want to stand out. Teach her to lock the damn doors. She should have someone with her, too, so roommates sound OK. She can be caught by surprise, even if she has a black belt.
Houston, even around Rice, can be seriously dangerous for a young woman. Please pay attention to security, especially at the parking at both ends. I would check with campus security and the police if possible for comments and advice. I have always found institutions (say, Rice) are very self-serving with respect to security questions, so if they say no problems, be wary.
How are her street smarts?
She's had her share of bicycle accidents and she doesn't want to have to haul a bunch of textbooks & NROTC uniforms in the rain, so I can understand why she wants a car. But I think it's a lot easier to take a ride with a friend or even (heaven forbid) a cab.

I think that the car is going to prove to be a tremendous hassle to find, buy, register, and care for. I think she's going to have trouble finding the time in her life to go get one. So from one month to the next, I think she's going to learn to live with bicycling & ride-sharing.

Although she spends the majority of her year in Texas, I think she's reluctant to give up her cool Hawaii rainbow driver's license. Next time she's home we'll do "ensign tax returns" so that she can put a price on her misguided loyalty.

RUPD has a bit of a reputation as jack-booted thugs hassling students about underage drinking. There have been problems on & off campus but HPD has been pretty aggressively policing the area. Her apartment complex had some break-ins last year so all the doors have been refitted with beefed-up frames and deadbolts.

I'd say that the apartment complex is no more dangerous than living on campus. For whatever that's worth.

I think she has the right kind of self-defense training-- the type that teaches her to stay away from situations requiring self-defense, and to run like a scared bunny. She's proven many times that she'll keep fighting if she gets hit or knocked down, and I can personally attest that she fights dirty. I think she gets that from her mother.
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:06 AM   #19
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In all likelihood, her car will be issued a Texas policy. Just before you get her a car have her take Defensive Driving so she can have the discount at the start of the policy. I can't remember if Texas offers a Good Student discount.

I'm sure you already know this - be very, very careful about getting a car anywhere around Houston. There are a tremendous number of "flood cars" on the market and you need a good mechanic to figure out what you're getting.

The reason I brought up her loaning the car is because if the "friend" has an at-fault accident in the car, you get charged with an accident on your policy. I realize most of us with USAA have the free accident forgiveness if we've been accident free for a few years. As the actuaries always like to say, there's not such thing as one accident for a younger driver. Also, if your daughter regularly loans the car to specific people, USAA (and other companies) might demand want those people listed as drivers on her policy. This way the premium is commensurate with the risk.

When does she graduate?
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:27 AM   #20
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Nords, regarding the car, make sure she can get reasonable parking on campus. In urban universities parking is often a huge problem and hard to come by. And frequently rationed based on what year you are (so grad students get best parking, seniors get next best and lower classes get screwed). In other words a car may not necessarily get her particularly close to her classes if she has to park a half mile away.
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