Some Housing Considerations for You
“To Live or not-to-live” on campus is not a decision filled with angst. Most freshmen seeking new-found freedoms have already anticipated the spring semester apartment search before arriving on campus. Yet, too many make hasty decisions without appropriate fact-finding and consultation with reliable resources. Below are six variables that should inform this important decision.
Cost: Can you afford it? This is a no-brainer, but many students forget the add-ons if not already included in the monthly rent, (e.g., utilities, cable, absorbing the cost of summer, if no one is available to sublet (do the math on this; if rent is divided by 4 for 9 months and divided by 2 for summer, you will have to “pony up”). A security deposit and one month in advance is common; you don’t get that back until you exit.
Location & Transportation: Mom and Dad taught you the principal rule in real estate…location, location, location. It applies to apartment living, too. For the MoneySmarts team, good location means affordable, safe, and convenient, not the best and most luxurious in the City. Check out the bus routes and make certain you get where you need to be---like classes.
Safety & Security: This may be most important to Mom and Dad; don’t side-step-it, because Dad already has the Police Department number on speed-dial and is likely to call and ask how many police runs are made to the complex or neighborhood. You don’t want to be in a location that has a reputation for problems; staff in Residence Life or upperclassmen can give you guidance. Check out locks on doors and windows; what you see will tell you how committed the landlord is to student safety.
Landlord: What you need to know you can find out from previous tenants. Does the landlord take care of problems speedily? Does the landlord check the premises regularly? Don’t forget to ask if there is some mysterious formula applied at the end of the year that will prevent you from getting back your security and first month deposit (if you have abided by the rules). A good landlord can make your life much less stressful than it needs to be.
Roommates: Being with people you like is fundamental. Sure your best friend is included, but if 4-5 individuals are in the mix too, butting heads can occur. Selecting roommates should be like choosing a baseball team; you need to blend strengths. If you have 2 people whose biological clock (schedule) is in another time zone it could be a problem. I had the perfect roommate my freshman year; he was soft-spoken and we agreed on our lights out time; that became the same criteria when I moved into a fraternity. Also, consider adding someone in the group that is super smart or can fix things, unless you’re already that person.
Satisfaction: Inject a little philosophy into your choice. What does the total package do for you? Can you sit on the porch in the dawn of spring and say “life is good” or is your main entrance on a back ally overlooking garbage cans? In sum, can it be home away from home or is it evident that you’ll be spending more time at your friends’ places?
*The MoneySmarts team recommends you not fail to compare what on-campus housing offers.