After nearly a semester of planning, emailing, searching, and stressing myself out, I’ve finally signed the lease to an apartment of my choice. Am I happy? Yes. Did I enjoy apartment hunting? No. As I look back on those torturous months, I couldn’t help but realize that I could’ve done so many things to make the process a little bit easier (on both myself and my incredibly patient roommate). Finding a great apartment that fits all your requirements—close to campus, decent management, security, reasonable price—isn’t a breezy task, but it’s definitely doable. Here’s a couple of my advices on apartment hunting as a college student:
1. Know what you want
Before you actually go and check out apartments, you have to know what you want. How many roommates do you plan to have? Are your roommates committed to rooming with you? What’s your price range? How many bedrooms/bathrooms? Do you care if your apartment is close to campus or not? These questions might be intimidating, but they need to be answered first before you proceed with the apartment hunt. I originally planned to live with two roommates in a three bedrooms/two bathrooms apartment. However, one of them decided to live on-campus during our apartment hunt, a decision that changed basically everything we’ve planned with our realtor. Plans do change, and you might find yourself (or your roommates) changing a few details throughout the search, but starting over is a huge waste of time. Make sure you understand your priorities before you set up an appointment with your realtor!
2. Use all available resources
A lot of college towns have realtors available at little to no cost. Their offices are often really close to campus, so you can drop by with your roommates to discuss your needs and start your search. I found my realtor very helpful during my apartment search: he was flexible with planning and quick to narrow down our choices based on our expectations. If you are a freshman at the time of your search (like me), you should also consider asking upperclassmen friends, especially those who have lived or currently live in the complexes you are interested in, for their take on apartment hunting. My roommate and I stayed away from an apartment because a lot of our friends had issues with its management, which is one of our top priorities. Everyone’s experience is different, but it’s definitely very helpful.
3. Stay organized and updated
Apartment hunting can be a long process, so you’ll need to stay organized throughout your search. My roommate and I kept a master list of our expectations, a map with our choices marked out, a pros and cons list of the apartments we visited, and important documents we received from our realtor. You don’t need to write down every single detail your realtor says during each appointment, but you should keep track and stay updated with your search.
4. Communicate with your roommates
I can’t thank my roommate enough for being patient and constantly reaching out to resolve any issues throughout our apartment search. After discussing our expectations with each other, we were able to pinpoint the location, price range and other requirements for our future apartment and communicate our ideas efficiently to the realtor. Communication is also essential during the actual search, when we candidly pointed the things we loved and hated about each place we visited.
5. Ask all your questions
When you’ve made your final decision, you shouldn’t hesitate to speak your mind and ask questions, especially when it’s about the place you will live in for the next year (or more). I knew essentially nothing about the legal and financial aspects of committing to an apartment until my roommate and I went over details about our lease, deposit, rent and other responsibilities regarding our apartment. There is no such thing as a stupid question! Make sure to consult your realtor, friends, and parents if you have any doubts about signing your lease.