The Quest for Off-Campus Housing

Right now on campus, one of the main things on students' minds is housing. All over campus, I hear students saying:

"What's your number?"

"Where are you living?"

"Who are you pulling in?"

"Are you moving off campus?"

"If I don't get Rosie, I'm literally going to transfer."

Here’s a little bit of advice in order to keep you sane while you're trying to manage the chaos that the housing lottery encourages.

Brandeis Housing Lottery

In case you're not aware, here's how it works: You got your number on Feb. 22 as long as you checked the "Room Selection" box on Sage, and now you have about a month to figure out what your options for housing are. First-years get numbers 1 to 1000, sophomores and juniors get numbers 1001 to 3000, and those who are studying abroad in the spring get numbers F1 to F300. You have the option to withdraw from the room selection process prior to the date of your housing appointment in March without being charged a fee of $100. Keep in mind: If you do not show up at room selection or send a proxy, you will be charged $100.

If you decide that living on campus is no longer for you (especially if you're currently a sophomore or a junior), I highly recommend that you search for off-campus housing!

Jump Off Campus

Jumpoffcampus.com is an incredible resource for students in the greater Boston area who are searching for housing near their university. There are pictures of available apartments as well as descriptions, which include important information such as the rent, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, whether utilities (heat, water, electricity, Internet) are included, and the distance from the university. Generally, it is possible to find great places (as long as you're willing to put in an hour or two of research) for around $450 to $650/bedroom. You'll have to contact the person who posted the advertisement—the student or the landlord—and arrange a "showing." Make sure that the person is legitimate prior to agreeing to a showing. Better yet, bring a friend just to be safe.

Craigslist

Craigslist.com can also be a great resource when it comes to finding housing off campus near Brandeis. Keep in mind, though, that sometimes apartments posted on craigslist can be fake or sketchy; however, with some dedication, you can find some real gems!

Brandeis Real Estate Agent

Ben Sternberg is a "Brandeis student finding apartments for Brandeis students," as described on his Facebook page. Search "Ben Sternberg, real estate" on Facebook, and you'll find his page. He should also be able to help!

Brandeis Housing Facebook Page

On this page, people find roommates, apartments off campus, etc. It's also a great resource!

Waltham Houses/Apartments

Most of the student body that lives off campus lives in houses and apartments around Highland St. and Dartmouth St. Other popular streets include Floyd St., Russel St., Vernon St., Charles St., Bedford St., South St., Hammond St., and Wellington St. Although most students refer to these places as "apartments," they are actually houses that are leased to students and other Waltham residents as makeshift apartments. Some houses are divided into three or four stand-alone apartments. These houses serve as mini-apartment buildings, since each apartment will have its own living room, kitchen, bedroom(s), and bathroom(s). The thing to keep in mind about these places, however, is that you're dealing with landlords who range from horrible to amazing. You want to make sure that you get a good one; otherwise they can make your life miserable. These apartments are most often found via word of mouth and Facebook. Additional ways of finding these apartments include utilizing jumpoffcampus.com, craigslist.com, and Ben Sternberg (all described above). Also, rent is generally $450 to $650/month per bedroom, however heat costs can be extremely high in the winter months ($100 to $300/person), since these are often older houses from the early 1900s. You will also need to pay for electricity and Internet; water is often included in the rent.

Charlesbank Garden & Charlesbank Estates Apartments

These apartments are beautiful. The staff is very professional, and there is a large variety of one- and two-bedroom apartments. These apartments are around $1,200/month for a one bedroom and $1,550/month for a two-bedroom ($775/month per person). Although they are a tad more expensive than the apartments in Waltham near Highland and Dartmouth Street, heat and water are included in the rent. This is amazing! Heat in the older apartments in Waltham can cost anywhere from $100 to $300/month during the five or six winter months. When you factor this in, you may actually be better off with a Charlesbank two-bedroom apartment for $775/month per person than a Waltham apartment for $650/month per person. Cats allowed!

Archstone Cronin's Landing Apartments

Archstone Cronin's Landing is located near Main St. and Moody St. right next to the Charles River. Living here is much more costly than living in Charlesbank or in a Waltham apartment near Highland and Dartmouth Street; however, it is worth it if you can afford it and if you have a car. A one-bedroom costs about $2,100/month, and a two-bedroom costs about $2,200/month ($1,100/month per person). Amenities include walk-in closets, gourmet kitchens, washer/dryer in unit (sometimes), copier/fax at the business center, a clubhouse, a fitness center, a gated entrance, and a swimming pool! Cats and dogs allowed!

Signing Leases

When it comes to signing leases for the Waltham houses/apartments, the earlier the better! I signed my lease last October 2012 for June 2013 to May 2014, which was eight months in advance. At that time, my landlords had already received numerous requests from other Brandeis students, who they had to turn away. However, there are generally still a few places available in February and March, so don't give up hope!

When it comes to signing leases for Charlesbank Gardens & Charlesbank Estates and Archstone Cronin's Landingone to three months in advance is just fine.

Good luck, and don't stress too much!