It’s that exciting time of the year we all somewhat look forward too, but mostly dread: housing arrangements for the next school year.
If you are like me, you run from this potential problem as fast as you can. Avoiding all responsibilities, you’ll “figure it out later,” and secretly pray the situation works itself out on its own. Seeing as I will be a junior next year, I can honestly say it does not work itself out.
You’re stressed, you’re tired and you’re… winter quarter. I know. But below I have some tips and tricks to make your search for new housing less of heartache and a hassle. By being on top of it from the beginning of the New Year, you can eliminate those last minute I’m-just-going-to-live-in-a-box unrealistic, but somewhat considered, thoughts.
Part One: Roommates
First and foremost, assess your current roommate situation. Can you honestly see yourself spending another three quarters with the people to your left and right? If you are in roomie heaven and adore your roommates, congratulations: This process just got a whole lot easier. If you are the latter, however, do not fear. Living with people who you enjoy is a priority that needs to be taken seriously.
Maybe you want to live alone (understandably, sometimes people just aren’t your thing). Consider the pros and cons of this situation.
Living alone guarantees you privacy and more space. You will have the convenience of making your own rules and worrying about paying your own rent. You won’t have to nag anyone about closing the windows or address situations like the last half of your ice cream carton mysteriously disappearing. This may sound appealing to you.
But consider the other option: living with one or more roommates. Think about this aspect financially. Most students are on a budget, and sharing a room could really save you some money for textbooks and classes. Having a roommate opens the opportunity to make new relationships, and have a new friend to cry and watch The Notebook with (or a movie of your choosing). Safety is another factor to take into account. If you’re afraid of the dark, chances are you shouldn’t live alone. On a serious note, however, there are strength in numbers. You may have more peace of mind sharing a space with other people.
When figuring out who should be your roommate, the process cannot really be distilled down to a science. Just focus on the big picture: who won’t get on your nerves most of the time? Living in close quarters can cause conflict, but be optimistic. Part of new roommates is learning new things about each other. Check out some questions to ask your future roomies here.
Part Two: Housing
One word: budget. Talk to who is supporting you financially, or if it is you,, it may be time for some self-reflection. Figure out how much you can afford monthly. Decide your limit and don’t compromise unless absolutely necessary. Sometimes people can try to rip you off; stay true and honest to how much you can allocate to housing costs. Don’t forget to factor in utilities or gas money if the housing arrangement is far from campus.
A smart tactic would be to create a list of all possible costs. Ballpark how much you will spend on groceries, gas, rent, utilities, school supplies, etc. When you are searching for an apartment or house, keep these in mind. Cost may be a larger factor than living in your dream room.
Another factor of determining housing is figuring out where in relation to Cal Poly you want to live. Using alternative transportation systems—walking, riding a bike, taking the bus—are important to keep in mind if you don’t have a car. If you have a car and may want to live off Madonna, for example, factor in the price of a parking permit, which is $375 annually.
A note on the parking deal—remember that starting Fall 2015, parking lots G-1 and R-2 will close for the construction of the new Grand Avenue and Slack Street residence halls. This will greatly alter traffic flow, and you may want to reconsider driving your car to campus.
Lastly, there is often debate about living in an apartment versus a house. Here is my take on the matter.
The difference between living in a house and an apartment essentially boils down to two things: price and privacy. Apartments can be nosier, since you are in closer proximity to others. A house is more spacious but is more expensive.
Here is what I suggest: consider first if you can afford the place you want to move into. Then objectively look at the location. From there, the apartment/house debate should take care of itself.
Try not to get too stressed out about the matter. Decisions you make on a whim may sometimes not be favorable, especially if your decision is going to haunt you for the next year. Take a breath, remember your budget and continue to ask around or check Craigslist weekly. The housing battle is tough, but you can do it.
For more info on off campus living, check out the University Housing website where you can find further tips and more in depth information on how to go about the hunt for housing.