Housing Hell: Finding Your Roommates, Finding Your Place

Towards the conclusion of freshmen year especially, it’s an exciting time to select your housing for the upcoming school year.  You might be inundated with offers to live with some friends on or off campus—or you might be struggling to find the right housing situation for you.  Either way, it’s recommended that you consider these five points when picking your housing for any year:

1.      Living with Friends 

At face value, it seems obvious that living with your closest friends is the best option.  However, this is not always the case.  In fact, it might be a poor choice more than it’s a good one.  When you live with someone you’re extremely close to, you might find that your living habits are drastically different.  This can lead to constant bickering and arguments about how you want your dorm room or apartment to be.  Unfortunately, sometimes this results in losing a close friendship.  This won’t always happen, of course, but if you’re planning to live with a close friend, make sure your living habits are compatible to some extent.

2.      Do You Have a Car? 

This wasn’t an issue my freshmen year because all underclassmen at my university are required to live on campus and freshmen are not allowed to have cars.  However, when you have a choice to live on or off campus, it’s important to consider your transportation options.  Is there a shuttle service from off campus areas to your university?  Is it within walking distance?  Will you have to commute far via car or bus to get to class each day?  These are always good questions to ask yourself before making the decision to live off campus.

3.      Pricing:  On Campus versus Off 

Sometimes living in an apartment with a monthly lease, rather than an on-campus residence, is less expensive.  Do the math.  If your school offers a dorm or on-campus apartment for $3500 a semester, how much cheaper or more expensive would a lease be at, let’s say, $500 a month?  When looking at rents you should also estimate utilities, cable, Internet, and trash pickup, as those are not always included in the base rent.  In addition, if you sign a year lease but won’t be around for the summer, you might also want to consider subletting.

4.      Furnished or Not? 

Most dorms and on-campus apartments are fully furnished, which is why those housing options are usually more expensive.  When you move off campus, you will likely be responsible for furnishing much, if not all, of your place.  You need to decide what type of furniture (i.e.:  a bed and desk) is necessary and what isn’t (i.e.:  a flat-screen television).  Then you need to factor in the cost, and estimate how close the price will be to the price of living on campus, if the money is of concern.  Finally, you need to plan out when and how to move everything in.

 5.      Available Resources 

Various resources are usually available on your school’s housing website, which should list the housing options available for various students, the rates, and the amenities.  There might also be a link to certified off-campus housing finders.  Do a quick Google search or sweep of your school’s website to fund such resources.

It’s always important to consider these points in order to avoid housing hell.  Having personally dealt with some roadblocks when trying to get the housing I needed at school, I recommend that you have a primary plan and a few backups.  Just remember the resources you have if your housing situation doesn’t work out, or if you run into some other problems along the way or during the school year.  Remember, housing only lasts a year (or semester if you really need to move somewhere else), and having a good environment to come home to after class or your extracurricular activities is one of the best sources of alleviating stress!

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