October is among one of the most stressful months for Michigan students. The honeymoon phase of classes is long over, with syllabus week nothing but a distant memory. October is the month of midterms, papers, and group projects, which all leads to one thing: stress. Unfortunately, classes aren’t even the most intimidating part of an October at Michigan. That honor goes to the Michigan housing system. October also happens to be a prime time to sign a lease for a house or apartment. The process of actually finding a place to call home next year is stressful and often not explained very well. This can be especially difficult for freshmen, as suddenly they have to decide who they want to live with and where after only being on campus for a couple of months. Here are some tips and tricks for navigating the Michigan housing market:
1. Decide what type of living situation you want
Off-campus housing opens up a whole new world of options. These may include high-rise apartments, houses, house-apartments, or smaller apartment buildings that are usually only a few floors. Each of these options has its pros and cons. High-rise apartments buildings come with the most amenities and safety features, but can become extremely expensive very quickly, especially for the ones on central campus. Living in a house will probably be less expensive than an apartment, although the best ones tend to go quickly, leaving some people stuck living by the IM building. House-apartments and smaller apartment buildings may not initially cross your mind but they are a good way to get a less expensive version of the high-rise buildings. They may not have all the amenities, but are often in good locations and offer a large variety of floor plans.
2. Picking the best roommates
It’s important to not just pick your best friends as your roommates, but instead people you can live with. Deciding on what type of environment you want to live will help with this. Do you want your home to be quiet, party central, or somewhere in between? Pick roommates with similar habits as you when it comes to studying, cleanliness, cooking, etc.
3. Things to note before you sign
See the place before you sign!! It is so important to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into before signing a lease (which is very difficult to break). Make sure you know what utilities you need to pay for (they are usually not included in the rent), when the lease starts, how a sublet would work if you need one and any other questions specific to your situation.
4. How to find houses, house-apartments and small apartment buildings
When looking into houses or smaller buildings, it is easiest to simply search by landlord. Each landlord will usually own at least a few properties in different locations. Once you know the area you want to be in, walk down a couple of streets and note the names on the front of the houses. Most of the landlords have websites where all of their properties are featured. Use their contact information to schedule tours of each place.
5. Helpful websites
“Beyond the Diag” is a group dedicated to helping students navigate the off-campus housing process. They host social events in various off-campus neighborhoods as well as offer conflict resolution services. Their housing search site (offcampushousing.umich.edu) allows you to search through listings for leases as well as sublets. They also have roommate finder function if you need to fill a last spot in your perfect house.
6. Talk to older people
The people that have actually lived in these houses will be your best resource for what they are actually like. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what the landlord was like and if they liked living there. Reach out to older students in classes or activities—they will be happy to help you!
7. Housing fair
There are two housing fairs coming up soon! They are on October 25th from 11 a.m to 2 p.m in the Duderstadt on North Campus and on November 2nd from 11am to 2pm in the Rogel Ballroom in the Union. These fairs will have booths from various landlords with information about their open properties. It’s a great way to talk to a lot of landlords quickly and get a feel for what’s available. Good luck on your housing search!
Images courtesy of: Beyond the Diag and offcampushousing.umich.edu