It might just be too much too soon
It’s already the middle of October; it’s crazy how time flies! When I think about October, I usually think about fall, midterms and football, but since I started at UW-Madison, October has become the beginning of the campus leasing season as well. Unlike most schools, UW starts the house-hunting process for the following year about a month into the fall semester. Now, being the HGTV fan I am, last fall I was super excited to look for housing. This year, however, it’s something I am really dreading.
I was equally wide-eyed and terrified moving into my dorm last year, so finding a flyer the day I moved in about housing for this year went right over my head. This was the case up until a few weeks ago when my current roommates and I got our lease renewal in the mail. We had only been in our apartment for a month, so we were nowhere close to having an idea of what we wanted to do for next year.
Now, we decided to look for housing elsewhere, but there have been some wrenches thrown, at least, into my plan. My goal is to study abroad next fall, so my biggest challenge has been deciding whether or not I should sign a lease again. I knew this was something I had to think about although it just didn’t hit me how soon I was going to have to make this decision. I got really lucky with my roommates this year; they are my closest friends on campus and we have a lot of laughs. However, when we signed our lease we had known each other less than two months, and already housing options were flying off the shelves.
Now, of course, college is supposed to be a transitory time, and part of the fun is moving and living with different people. At the same time, starting the housing search in October can be paralyzing for a lot of reasons. While I couldn’t ask for better roommates, I also know just as many people who have switched leases or started subleasing or are living with people they struggle to get along with. A lot changes between October and August. Even though becoming roommates is always a risk, it can be difficult to put your energy anywhere else when you are uncomfortable with your living situation. This doesn’t even mention the struggles of trying to find a new place to live while your feet are still landing on the ground.
One of the other major issues is how quickly the rental market moves in Madison. Unless you have all of your ducks in a row right away, finding housing almost becomes an additional class, and one with a deadline that overlaps with midterms. Rents start soaring just as quickly as units and houses go off the market. It makes sense that Madison is expensive since it is a capital city, yet the changes in rent prices from year to year, and in some buildings week to week, are too astronomical to try and wrap your head around as a college student. Underclassmen also have a disadvantage when it comes to trying to figure out the lay of the land from both a time and an experience constraint. As for me, learning to sit with the discomfort of having all of my plans up in the air has been unsettling to say the least. I’m lucky to have these new opportunities and I love UW, but I have met very few people who enjoy searching for housing this early.
When push comes to shove, eventually everything will work out. With that said, the extra layer of stress an early leasing season adds makes the fall semester much more chaotic. In a typical year, it’s nice to have it all sorted out in January, yet getting to that point might cause some sleepless nights. Wherever you are in the process, take the time to figure out what is going to work for you. I think it’s important to do your research but to remember that one of the best things about college is that nothing is permanent. It’s also about how you make the most of it.