As an incoming freshman, I thought living in the dorms would give me ultimate freedom. Wrong. Yes it’s a whole lot less strict than living with parents, but there are still so many rules. You have to be conscious about your neighbors, cordial to your roommate, and follow any rules your RA has along with the hallway quiet hours.
With freshman year out of the way, it was finally time to get the type of freedom I always craved. Apartment/house hunting is a tricky task. There’s a lot of things you have to take into consideration when choosing which place you’re going to call “home” next.
Here’s a list of things both my roommates and I took into consideration when choosing our new home, and we hope it helps you guys too!
Always look at price first
If you’re a super broke college student who still heavily relies on their parent (guilty as charged) it’s super important to take into consideration the price tags that come with the units. I worked all summer long to save up money for rent, but it still won’t be enough to cover the whole year, which is when your parents step in. It’s important for them to agree with the budget and prices if they’re going to be helping you out – or even if you’re doing it on your own! You don’t want something that will be too much on you.
. . . But don’t hold back to looking at “nicer” places
At first, my roommates and I avoided looking at anything that was considerably nicer, solely for the purpose of saving money. However, if you get an extra roommate or two, the price per month drops for everyone which makes the “nicer” places affordable!
Look at the location of the place
If you’re anything like me, you probably won’t want to sign a lease somewhere off in Coralville but you also don’t want to sign a lease right on top of a busy restaurant/bar downtown. Location is essential. You have to make sure you’re in a place you’ll be comfortable coming to and from campus, and in a “safer” neighborhood.
. . .But remember that the closer to campus, the higher the demand
But if you are the type to enjoy living in a busy street with a high traffic volume, usually somewhere on top of a business downtown, those options are always available too! Obviously, the closer the apartment is to campus, the more money it’ll be.
Be 100% about everyone you’re living with
It kind of sucks that most people have to sign a lease right before Thanksgiving, considering the fact that it leaves you with a whole new semester to meet new people, make new friends, etc. However, even though you have to sign early on in the year, make sure you only sign with people you’re 100% about. They’re going to be your roommates for a whole school year – and if you aren’t 100%, then honestly just don’t sign.
. . .But make sure everyone is also 100% on board
Yes, we had a roommate ditch. It left everyone else in a sticky situation. So always make sure your roommates are on board as much as you are. If you sense a hint of doubt, make sure to get it resolved ASAP! Do not wait until last minute unless you want to deal with apartment lease issues.
Make a checklist of stuff everyone is going to bring
It’s always smart to get organized after signing a lease. Divvying up the stuff to bring to a new apartment can be tricky, but it is doable. An easy check list on Google Docs can do justice, and just have everyone put their name next to the things they can bring.
. . .But remember to be fair with the whole group
If one of the roommates agrees to get the couch, make sure you’re not making them get another big purchase. A roommate bringing a couch versus a roommate bringing silverware doesn’t equal up. You see? Make sure everyone is contributing the same amount! It’s all different with each roommate, so just make sure to communicate.
With everything taken into consideration – my roommates and I chose to sign a lease with Apartments Downtown at one of the Villas! It’s located on Gilbert Street which is approximately a 10 minute walk from campus. We love our new home and can’t wait for the year ahead.
If you’re in the process of looking for a new place to live, even if it’s not until next year, don’t be afraid to start the process as early as you can. Most people sign their lease for the upcoming school year as early as October! The living demand is high in Iowa City considering it’s such a big college campus. Be proactive, but don’t stress. In the end, it always works out! Good luck.