Things to Think About When Moving Off-Campus

Are you in the process of finding off-campus housing or will be shortly? If so, read on!

The process of solidifying off-campus housing plans can be challenging. There are many things to consider including who you are going to live with, whether you want to live in an apartment or house, what price ranges you’ll be looking in, potential landlords or apartment complexes, then narrowing down your choices and signing a lease!  

Picking roommates/housemates

One of the earliest steps in the process should be deciding who you are going to live with. We all know the drama that sometimes arises during room picks. Unfortunatley, off-campus housing decisions are not immune from the challenges we may have faced before. Every friend group will face its own unique challenges and the best piece of advice I can give is to be open about what you are thinking and to communicate with your group of friends. If you’ve made any decisions that you think will affect others looking to live off, be forthcoming. Sure, it may be uncomfortable, but it gives them enough time to connect with others to live with and get started looking for other housing options.

House or Apartment/Condo

Personally, I never debated this one and wanted to live in a house from day 1! Others, though, are more on the fence.Below are just a few of the differences, compile your own pro/con list if you feel you need to make a decision between the two!

A few benefits of living in a house include having more space than an apartment, greater flexibility in the number of people you can live with  and (on average) being less expensive than living in an apartment. Many houses are not fully furnished though, but I haven’t heard of many people having trouble furnishing their places without breaking the bank!  

Some benefits of living in an apartment include greater security  than living in a house, and furnishings included.  Many complexes aren’t far from campus (in comparison to the variety of distances you can find yourself away from campus in a house) and some may be in better condition than houses. If you decide to look primarily at houses, you’ll need to go through a landlord. Ask for recommendations from seniors living off-campus or go to Notre Dame’s off-campus housing website for a comprehensive list of housing companies and apartment listings.Figuring out a price range you will be looking in may also be helpful as you make this decision. To get an idea of potential prices, reach out to landlords you may potentially look through or call a variety of the apartments around campus.  

Visiting houses and apartments

While visiting houses or apartments, take lots of pictures! They don’t need to be high quality (see picture above). If the tenants are there, feel free to ask them some questions or perhaps get their contact information. They may be able to give you some more information about the condition of the home/apartment in general and what they think of the landlord.

Making a decision

First off, don't immediatley dismiss a messy house! I did house tours on a Sunday morning and as you can imagine, some houses were in bad shape!  Do your best to imagine it in somewhat decent shape as you are narrowing down your choices. Next, pull out your photos as you discuss your options because it's easy to confuse the different places. Once you narrow down your list to one or two places, consider going back to the homes one more time and confirm that you really want the place. From there, you’ll get a lease to go over.

These are just a few things to get you started and things I wish I had known when I started looking for a place off-campus during my sophomore year. While stressful at times, the process probably won’t take more than a few months and it’s worth it in the end!

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Sources: 1

Images: 1, 2 by author, 3, 4 by author