It seems to be some sort of traditional housing process that every college student faces in his or her lifetime. Your freshman year you move into the residence halls or dorms where you meet your roommates and create some friendships that may last you your entire college career. Sophomore year you either move into a larger dorm or find an on-campus apartment where everything becomes a bit more personalized. You may even have your own room and your own kitchen!
Finally, you become an upperclassmen. From your junior year and on you either live in the on-campus apartments, a sorority or frat house, or you find your own place off campus. Regardless of what you’re planning for next year, the time to figure that out is now!
It doesn’t matter if you just started off the school year, you’re reading this over Christmas break, or it’s spring finals week; the sooner you figure out next year’s housing situation the better! Not to mention, the earlier you do it, the better place you’re going to living in. This is especially true for anyone that plans on living off campus.
A lot of the advice I have listed below comes from my own personal experience, so it may not be an end-all be-all type of guide. Instead, use this as a reference for what you need to do and learn from my mistakes.
- You want the best and most affordable apartment, condo, duplex, house, shack, lean-to, or whatever! So how do you get it?
The easiest way to put it is to start searching now. There are a lot of properties in the Louisville area up for rent and if you wait until the last second to start contacting owners or property managers, you’re going to end up in a less-than-desirable living situation. For some that may be the condition of the property itself, for others it may mean the location or monthly rent is not what you were hoping to get.
- The process takes a lot more time than you think.
You think you’ve found the right place until another place comes along that may have features you prefer over the first one. Or maybe you missed out on your top pick and have to decide between the remaining three that fit your requirements. This isn’t uncommon and when you need to visit each property to inspect it, this takes even more time when you have a busy schedule and you’re trying to find a date that works for you and the property manager.
- Not every property looks like it does online.
You remember that guy or girl you found on Instagram, thought they were model status, and saw him or her in person only to find out they’re mediocre at best. We’ve all been there in a similar situation and with rental properties it’s no different. The pictures online tell one thing, but you need to visit the property before committing to anything.
I remember there was one house we found online that looked phenomenal. It was clean, newer looking, and even had new carpet. When we visited it in person, the tenants living there previously trashed the place. The carpet was covered in stains, there were holes in the wall, and the entire second floor reeked of Marijuana. We talked to the property manager and he had told us those pictures were taken before the previous tenants had moved in.
- You need to figure out who your roommates are (if any).
People are very fickle and will put things off. You’re random roommate from last year may not plan on living with you again next year, but won’t tell you until he or she has already finished finals and packed up the car. I remember hearing stories of friends being left to live on their own in a single apartment (which is perfectly fine) because 3 or 4 other friends decided to live elsewhere without them. In short, figure out who you’re going to live with and make sure they’re 100% on board.
- You’ll need some time to review the lease agreement
This will depend largely on who owns the property you’re wanting to rent from. For most apartments it’s fairly standard, however when you start reading into houses and duplexes, that’s where some agreements become very long. Certain property management companies have very specific rules about what is considered damage and what isn’t. In addition there may even be clauses about house parties, which a good student like yourself shouldn’t have any problem following, lawn maintenance and more. These things are often overlooked, but tenants should read over this to make sure they understand everything they need to do to make sure they receive their full deposit back.
- You may need time to save up money
If you’re able to get a property lined up ahead of schedule, this will give you time to put money back for rent and utilities, considering you’re the one paying. Once you’re able to estimate the monthly rent you’ll have more time to set up your work schedule and/or put back more money for the next year.
If you follow just a few of these tips and start the search process now, your entire next year will probably be much better than if you wait until the last second. So instead of going out one Friday or Saturday night, stay in and figure out where you’re going to live and with who.
If you have any more tips or tricks that may be helpful to add to this article, please feel free to post them in the comments down below!