What happens when living on campus isn’t an option? Rachel Senkler shares advice on finding housing and what to look out for.
Finding a Home
- Talk with the housing office on campus to get advice on local community housing. Many schools have websites dedicated to helping students find rental listings in the local community—it’s always a good idea to see how your school can help.
- Use the internet! Websites like <casaswap.com> and <craigslist.com> can be helpful tools in the search, such as finding available housing or roommates, but it is important to be cautious in these transactions. Make sure to meet in person and do not wire money overseas or online. Also do not give out your financial information (like credit card numbers or your bank account).
- Check the Classified section in local newspapers—you can still find opportunities in print!
- Consider many options to get the most for your money. Not only can roommates help your cultural experience, they can also help reduce the cost of living. Many college towns have families who rent a private room within their home, which is another option to save money. Many international students who choose to live in a studio apartment struggle to feel connected to others during their stay. Living in a family home or with roommates can save you money and help you make friends.
It’s All in the Details
- Make a good first impression. Many landlords are wary of renting to students, so it is a good idea to dress nicely and to bring a tenant’s resume showing some of the responsibilities you have maintained and the financial plan you have in place to pay rent. For ex. Do you have a job? Will your parents co-sign the lease? Will student loans cover the cost?
- Have an understanding of what features you would like. How do feel about air conditioning? Is there a laundry facility on site? Does the kitchen have a refrigerator or stove? Does the apartment come with furniture? Are utilities provided by the landlord? Utilities can include the cost of water, electricity, trash removal, air conditioning, internet—there are many possibilities. When you look at rental listings, make sure you understand what utilities are included by the rent so you can factor in additional living costs.
- Before you sign the contract make sure to thoroughly inspect the property and see what is covered by the rental agreement. If you decide to move in, take pictures to verify what the apartment looks like before you settle in (it’s a good idea to have the calendar date on the photo), and again when you move out to prove that you left it in the same condition. This can help you get your security deposit back once you move out.*
*A security deposit is made at the beginning of your rental lease, and it supposed to be returned to you at the end of your lease if the property is in the same condition. However, some landlords may claim that you damaged their property in order to keep the security deposit. Taking photos when you move in and out is a great way to protect yourself from this kind of action.
- Location is a key concept to real estate, and if you are unfamiliar with the area take the time to do some homework.
- It’s a good idea to visit on the weekends, in the evening and in the day to judge noise levels and safety. You check with the local police department (there should be online info available) to see crime reports or talk to the housing office to get advice about safer neighborhoods.
- How will you get to school? Check rental properties with local bus lines or see if you can walk or bike to campus. If you are staying through the winter months, keep in mind that biking won’t be an option with snow on the ground. Do a trial run of getting to campus to make sure you are comfortable with the commute.
Hopefully with these tips, finding a place to live off-campus goes smoothly. Happy hunting!
Here are links that provide even more information about off-campus housing:
Below are websites designed for finding Roommate Shares and Short-Term Subleases:
www.casaswap.com International roommate and housing service.
www.sublet.com (Sublets Short-term)
www.padmapper.com – www.padmapper.com
www.roomster.com – www.roomster.com
www.roomorama.com / – Roomorama.com
www.woogo.com (Short term housing)
Here are some sites which offer apartment listings:
www.myapartmentmap.com Affordable housing near campuses
www.InsideDigs.com Peer to Peer Apartment Rentals
www.flat-club.com Network for short term rentals for students and alumni of top schools
www.ApartmentList.com 1.8 million listings nationwide
www.mynewplace.com Apartment and home rentals
http://www.streeteasy.com/ (Apartment listings)