Column: Tips I've crafted from a stressful housing search experience
As fresh, legal adults, students are sent off to college. Just barely old enough to buy our own Juul pods, we are forced to think about housing for the next school year.
Sure, freshmen have the option to stay on campus for a second year — and sophomores, juniors, seniors and graduate students alike have the same option — but electing to stay on campus gets expensive, especially after meal plans are included in the price.
As a sophomore living on campus now, I enjoy the convenience of being close to my classes, but I can't see myself living on the same campus with the same sights for a third year. I need a change in scenery.
Luckily, I started my search early enough to find housing that is right for me and that suited the needs of all the people I plan on living with.
However, the three-week long search for housing was stressful for me, and it was the cause of multiple crying sessions on my futon.
I'm here to give you tips to make sure you don't feel the same way. Here's what you can do to make your life easier when searching for housing.
Start looking early
Before I had even been on campus for a week, my roommate mentioned looking for housing because her siblings knew our best options would go quickly.
I know it's hard to think about housing for the next year when you're still trying to get settled into the place you just moved in to, whether that's a dorm or a new apartment. But leasing for the following year usually starts in October, so it's good to get a jump on things.
Also, the earlier you start, the greater selection you'll have available. The best apartments and houses go quick, so it's important to beat the crowds.
Know what you want
Knowing what is most important to you is a huge part of selecting apartments and houses. If you know what to prioritize, you can figure out what places suit your needs the best.
Things that are important to prioritize are price, location, room sizes, whether you want a house or an apartment, etc.
Make sure you're on the same page with potential roommates
When you start thinking about housing, it's important to think about who you might want to live with. Living with your best friends seems like a great idea and like a lot of fun, but if you want an apartment and they want a house, you might need to start trying to find other people to live with.
Compromise is always an option, especially because there is always more than one factor that goes into choosing a place to live. If there is a big disagreement on something that is a high priority for your potential roommates, it might be time to start scrolling through MSU Facebook groups to find roommates with similar preferences.
Take walkthroughs before signing
Virtual tours are a great way to check out houses and apartments. They give you a good first understanding of what to expect, but they can be super misleading.
Contacting landlords and scheduling a tour of the places you're interested in is an important part of the home-hunting experience. The best way to understand what you can do with a space is to physically stand in it and maybe even take measurements.
Know what you're allowed to have
A lot of students are interested in bringing their pets with them to school once they're out of dorms. If this is something that is important to you, make sure you aren't risking losing your security deposit by starting up a home-based dog sitting business.
Many apartments and houses around campus allow pets, you just need to know where to look.
This story is part of our fall 2019 housing guide. Find more stories about on and off campus living in this week's print edition of The State News, or click here.