For most first-year students, this is the LAST OPPORTUNITY to arrange off-campus housing. Much like selecting a major, choosing a place to live is a critical decision and must be made a detailed priority. When looking for off-campus housing, take your time, be thorough, and don’t settle for the first place you see. Here is a list of things to look for during your housing hunt.
· Before moving into an apartment, ask the current tenants what they like and dislike about the property. Prospective tenants can always search online for reviews or ask current tenants in person.
· If you plan on touring an apartment, make sure the site superintendent shows the actual suite you’re interested in renting. It’s not uncommon for apartment tours to showcase some of the higher-end and nicer suites to attract potential tenants.
· Tour the neighborhood, as well as the rental accommodations. Just because the rental accommodations are amazing, doesn’t necessarily mean the neighborhood will be. Often out-of-towners will not be familiar with undesirable neighborhoods within the community, which can lead to unfavorable situations down the road.
· Just because a place is being shown, doesn’t mean it’s available right away. The suites may not be available for a few months. Be sure to ask when the place is available to move into before your classes start.
· Don’t be afraid to negotiate. In many instances, some things such as rental rates, move-in dates, added amenities or furnishings are negotiable.
· Try to meet the neighbors BEFORE moving in. Neighbor compatibility is a big deal. For example, if a group of students who like to stay up late and make lots of noise move next to a family with small children, there will likely be some problems.
· If something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t true. Rental scams are an unfortunate reality, especially through free-to-post classified websites. If anything seems fishy, it’s best to trust your gut instinct.
· Location is everything. Quite often accommodations nearest to school are the most expensive. Student renters can get a bargain by opting to live further away from campus. However, commute times might not be worth the savings. Furthermore, living far away in winter can be a real burden.
· Don’t spend a ton of money on furniture or furnishings, only to end up leaving it behind when you move out.
· If you travel by foot or bike, check the Walk Score. A Walk Score is a number between 1-100 assigned to a residential property, gauging how ‘walkable’ it is to nearby shopping and amenities. If a student travels primarily by foot, he or she will want to find a rental accommodation with a high walk score.
Here is your checklist to guide you through the process with questions and tips on what to look for during tours. You can take this printout along to remember all the information you need.
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