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5 Tips to Finding Your College Housing Fit

Going through your list of to-dos as you prepare to start college? One task you’ll want to give some extra lead-time is finding housing near your college of choice. While your housing selection isn’t set in stone forever, moving multiple times during school breaks is not ideal, so try setting your sights on a place you’ll be happy staying long-term. What other things should you consider as you start your hunt? Here are some steps to take before choosing your place.

  1. Assess your finances. Housing is one of the biggest expenses college students face. Before you begin searching in earnest, you’ll need to create a budget and determine what you’re able to pay each month for rent, utilities, etc. You can use a sample guide like this one created by CNBC to build your budget. If you determine that rental options in the area exceed your monthly budget, you’ll need to consider alternative living arrangements, such as living farther away from campus, finding roommates, or staying with friends/family.
  2. Choose your location. If your college or university offers on-campus housing, decide what better suits your needs—living in a dorm on-campus, or living in student housing nearby. Each offer their pros and cons, but affordability and availability will be big factors. If you decide to live off-campus, you’ll want to do your research on the areas you’re looking to live in. Assess access to public transportation, walkability, parking, nearby shopping, places to eat, and distance to your school. With this radius in mind, you can significantly reduce your search area.
  3. Ask around. If you’re still not sure where to look for housing, your best bet is to talk to students at your future school. Student forums are great for this. Current and former students can give you insights on the options, what they wish they’d known, and tips on how to grab a spot in the best place.
  4. Pick your roommates wisely. If you find yourself needing a roommate, lay the groundwork a bit before taking applicants. It’s one thing to hang out with someone occasionally for a few hours at a time… it’s a whole different story to live with someone for months or even years. So, while finding a roommate to share expenses may be your best bet financially, it’s worth spending some time screening your potential living buddies first for the sake of your mental health. Some things to talk about when deciding if your lifestyles mesh:

    • Sleep, work and social schedules
    • Views on smoking, drinking and drug use
    • Volume preferences for music and TV
    • Rules about people staying over
    • Plans for sharing household items
    • Division of household duties and cleaning routines

    It’s also a good idea to run a credit check on your potential roommates, and request references from past roommates and/or landlords. Additionally, you’ll want to ensure the candidate has a steady job that will provide adequate income for rent, utilities and other shared expenses.

  5. Search online, but tour in-person. The internet makes apartment-hunting pretty simple, with scores of sites geared toward filtering listings. However, we highly recommend that you view your prospective digs in-person prior to putting down a deposit. While you’re there, try to talk to a few of the current tenants to get a balanced perspective. Compelling online photos and descriptions can sell just about anything, so try to set appointments to tour your frontrunners before closing the deal. Not sure what to look for? Here’s a sample list of things to consider as you choose the right housing for you . Make sure that you understand every expense you’ll be responsible for, including fees for parking, using a shared laundry, or pets if applicable.

Planning on attending Ensign College? Here are a few places to search for housing options.

Finding the right living situation for your college years might take some work up front, but you’ll be grateful in the long run. Taking the time to do it right the first time will save you countless hassles, setting you up for a successful freshman year.

For more tips on gearing up for freshman year, check out this article .

Updated November 7, 2022.

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