8 Tips for House Hunting in College

Taking time out of a college student’s day to search for a place to live is challenging. It's stressful to think about where you’re going to spend the next year or so of your life while also juggling school, work, relationships and extracurricular activities. No one has the energy or the time to go through such a process, but there are some steps that you can take to make the process a little less painful.

1. Create a list 

Make a list of amenities that you consider to be essential within a home and a list of things that you can live without. It’s very unlikely that you’re going to find the perfect home within your budget at this point in your life, so be realistic when thinking about what your living situation might look like.


2. Start looking early

College towns/cities do things very differently when it comes to student housing both on and off campus, but it never hurts to start looking as early as possible. Cities become more challenging because both students and non-students are looking for housing in that area at the same time. It’s all about who gets to the landlord first and the difference between you and your dream college home could be a phone call that was made one minute before yours.


3. Don’t stress when nothing is on the market

Starting early can lead you to believe that nothing is available and may leave you discouraged. Keep in mind that some landlords don’t expect their residents to renew or cancel a lease until March or April, so it’s vital that you be patient during this process.


4. Come to viewings prepared

Houses and apartments close to campus get taken very quickly. You might find yourself at a viewing for a place with a handful of other potential renters and it’s your responsibility to get to the landlord first. If your parents are involved in your housing, give them a heads up on the details of a place you’re planning to look at just in case you’re ready to commit by the end of the viewing.


5. Don’t ignore Facebook groups

Craigslist, Trulia, Zillow and HotPads are all common and reliable websites to find housing on but look for Facebook groups with people in your area that are looking for housing. People make posts regarding places for rent or places to sublease all the time and it’s not the most common medium people think to look into. Do your own research and ensure that nothing is a scam but don’t neglect to look at these secondary sources.


6. Ask around

Some of the best sources for finding a place to live are your own neighbors, previous landlords and classmates. Older peers that have been in that area longer than you have know a thing or two about how house hunting works and can provide information and support. You get the truth about people’s experiences instead of just decorative words on a website used to entice potential renters.


7. Don’t have high expectations

College isn’t like the movies. The apartments aren’t all cute and quirky with plenty of space and all of the amenities you could ask for. Nothing has as much comfort and simplicity as the home you were raised in so don’t expect to have the same feeling in your college home. Granted, some places might offer you that feeling but it’s rare. Stick to focusing on the necessities and you won’t be disappointed.  


8. Picture yourself in the house

If you do find a place you like, try picturing yourself inside of it day after day. Picture yourself cooking, cleaning, hanging out with friends, sleeping, getting ready in the morning and walking to and from class or other activities. If you get a good feeling after doing that, take it. If you don’t, move on and try again.


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