Editor’s Note: Views expressed in guest columns and letters to the editor reflect the views of the author, not the views of The State News.
After living in the dorms for two years, I couldn’t wait to get out. Having my own room, a living room and a kitchen to cook my own meals in sounded like a dream come true.
This isn’t to say the dorms were a terrible place all the time. I actually had a lot of really great times in the dorms and made some of my favorite college memories in Emmons and Holden halls. But like every great adventure, it had run its course. It was time for bigger — literally — and better things.
Once I had made the decision to leave the dorms after my sophomore year, I really had no idea where to go from there. I mean, where do you even start? Do you find the people you want to live with and then the place? Or vice versa? Then comes the question of how exactly you want to live. Should I live in a house or an apartment; a studio or a cooperative house? The options are endless.
Once you’ve decided how and where you want to live, there is an unfortunate chance you will not get your dream location. If you live in East Lansing, you are familiar with the housing situation. Unless you are planning a week-long stakeout in front of one of the housing companies, or have made plans a year prior to your move-in, your dream house or apartment might have to be put on hold for a few years.
From personal experience, I think one of the most important things I’ve learned from off-campus housing is to try to decide whom exactly you want to rent from. My junior year, I rented from a large housing company, and senior year I rented from a private owner. Both were different in positive and negative ways.
When I moved into my apartment junior year, the place seemed to be in pretty good shape.
According to our new neighbors, our apartment previously had been occupied by a group of really rowdy boys. Besides a few patches in the wall from drunken fists and a few minimal carpet stains, the place seemed new. Throughout the year, we had minimal problems with our kitchen appliances and bathrooms, and if we did, the apartment company usually sent someone to fix it as soon as possible.
The huge downside from my experience living with the housing company was dealing with parking snafus and general housekeeping things. Our apartment complex offered no guest spots — which, after living in East Lansing where parking is a rare commodity, I really wasn’t surprised.
The real parking problem had to do with random people parking in our apartment’s assigned spots. This happened so frequently that every time I left, I assumed I wouldn’t have a spot when I got back. Our apartment complex really did nothing to help us. They gave us the number for the city of East Lansing parking people — who would just write these people parking tickets — and left it at that.
Most of the time, my roommates and I would just have to park our car at a friend’s place or find somewhere to put it for the night — or a few days — until that person decided to move.
If we couldn’t find anywhere to park our car, we had the lovely opportunity to meet all our neighbors by knocking on everyone’s doors and asking them if they knew whose car was in our designated spot. It was the most frustrating part of living with my housing company.
They also made moving in and out of the apartments really difficult and were not very accommodating. When it was time to move out, my new apartment wasn’t ready yet. I asked our housing company if I could stay one extra day so my new apartment would be ready and I wouldn’t have to move all of my stuff home for one day, and they said, “No.”
This is where my super accommodating new apartment owner comes in.
My new apartment owner let me move my furniture in so I would not have to move my entire college existence home for one day. He was extremely helpful, which really meant a lot to me after having such a negative experience moving out of my old apartment.
When I moved into my new apartment, it still was just as clean as my previous one and maintenance has been wonderful. Any time we need anything fixed, they come right over.
I also have had a better experience with parking at this apartment. Since a private owner owns the complex, there is a person who lives in the complex that is designated as the “parking person.”
This person is in charge of all parking situations and mishaps and has actually helped me out when someone has been parked in my assigned spot. I think it is safe to say that although I enjoyed both apartments, I prefer renting from the private owner.
Next year, I will be living in a house for the first time (yippee!) and I am renting from a very small housing company. Hopefully this will be the best of both renting worlds. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.
Paige Bolen is a guest columnist at The State News and a journalism and advertising senior. Reach her at email@example.com.