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Living the High Life, or, Trying To: Your Guide to Renting in Westchester

Graduation is just around the corner, but some students are searching for a local apartment instead of fully leaving the Purchase bubble.
Some students choose to begin building their adult lives here, whether it’s because of a job offer, family back home moving on, or even just liking the area.
Rose Crosby, one of Her Campus’ staff writers, moved off-campus to White Plains last year with her fiancé.  
But living in Westchester can be difficult for recent college graduates since rent prices can rival those in New York City. Different realtors list the average rent in White Plains as anywhere from $1000 to $2500.
Crosby said, “We looked at five different buildings; 80 percent of the one we saw were out of our price range but you go there anyway to see if they’re willing to go down on price.”

Crosby said she learned to navigate the murky world of Craigslist. There’s other ways to find an apartment too.
Tim Wuebber, a SUNY Cortland student, said, “We looked at a few apartments, but the one we ultimately decided on was referred to us by a friend.” His apartment has wound up being right above a bar.
Living in the on-campus apartments is only a stepping-stone to real rentals. Sure, there aren’t CAs checking to make sure the fire alarm isn’t covered with a plastic bag, but landlords and management companies still set the rules. However, they do require your permission to enter the apartment unless there is an emergency.
“It was very important to me to be in a building instead of a space in someone’s home,” Crosby said.
Plus, there’s taking care of utilities. In New York, heat must be supplied October through May, or if temperatures drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 40 degrees at night. You may have to pay for it or it can be included in the rent.
“We wanted to figure out what was included,” Crosby said, “You don’t realize how lucky you are, living in the dorms.”
It’s also up to you as the renter to pay for electricity unless included in the rent, or it’ll be lights out – the Great Purchase Blackout style. Also, just how often the lights are on, or what time of year it is, affects your bill.
And don’t forget transportation, parking, laundry, phone service, and TV service.
Crosby tried to cut costs by first not having a landline. Luckily, her apartment provides parking, but only one space. Her fiancé had to sell his car.
According to the Nassau Suffolk Law Services, in New York State, “It is illegal for your landlord to lock you out, shut off your heat/water, take the doors off your apartment or remove your possessions without a court order.”
Wuebber had advice for students looking for apartments, saying, “Make sure you read the lease very carefully. Make sure the apartment is in good condition.” He added, “Just be very cautious about everything.”
Crosby agreed, saying “don’t rush into it.” With most leases, you’re committed for at least a year, she said.
“You should love it,” she said.
The New York Tenant’s Rights Guide
Nassau and Suffolk County Tenant Guide 

Gabriele is a sophomore journalism major. She attends SUNY Purchase College after transferring from SUNY Albany.
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