Student Housing: Making the right decision

Erin Kennedy

Erin Kennedy

Living on campus is a key element in the college experience, but sooner or later the time comes when students need to begin the search for off campus housing.

“I feel that it is easier to move off campus at semester time, instead of at the end of the year,” said Molly Paterson who is a sophomore dairy science manufacturing student at SDSU. “I’ve found that it is best to have a group of people who all want to live together already set up before you begin looking for a place.”

The first step toward living off campus is to decide when to begin the search.

“Some students start looking right now, but I suggest not starting until December at the very earliest,” said SDSU Off-Campus Housing Coordinator Andrew Walters. “Complexes won’t really know what they will have available until next year, so by beginning to search sometime next semester is the best choice for students.”

“When I was a sophomore, I started looking for off-campus housing in February and had no problem finding a nice apartment by the end of the school year,” said Lindsay Schultz, senior human development and family studies major. “People said that we had begun our search way too early, but we found what we were looking for by looking in the newspaper and by driving around.”

The next step would be to visit the off-campus housing Web site located through the Student Affairs link on the SDSU Web site, or simply through Students can also get in contact with Off-Campus Housing by stopping by Information Exchange in The Union.

This Web site includes information from the off-campus housing office concerning available housing, the annual fair, the educational series on housing and information about the Americans with Disabilities Act compliancy.

Living off campus can be an intimidating experience with all of the options that are available but knowing which type of living arrangement works best is the trick to making that intimidating experience into a no-sweat situation.

“Places that are mainly available to students are apartments, houses, duplexes, some triplexes and a few mobile homes,” said Walters.

Another decision to make when thinking about living off-campus concerns whether to live alone or with roommates.

“People usually have people lined up to live with before they begin looking for a place to live,” said Walters. “We get some people who want to live alone, but for the most part, students chose to have roommates.”

When it comes to looking at units, knowing what to expect from them is key. Questions concerning washing and drying units, dishwashers, refrigerators, stove tops, microwavable units, parking spaces and in some situations, if pets are allowed are common questions that are asked by students.

“Really, it all depends on what you’re looking for,” said Walters. “One of the biggest questions that students need to ask about is if the landlord pays the utilities.”

Walters also warned students to be informed.

“I suggest looking over the lease before signing,” said Walters. “Do an inspection of the complex with your landlord and make a list of things that need fixing. Look at the overall condition of the unit before you make a commitment to live in it.”

Overall, many students enjoy the experience of having their own place.

“The hassles with living off campus for me have been walking to class and having to buy my own food, but the cheap rent has definitely made up for the hassles,” said Mallory Lambrecht, a junior animal science major. “It is really nice to have more storage for my stuff and to have a bigger living area. You don’t feel like you’re trapped in a little cube like you do when you live in the dorms.”

Off-Campus Housing will be hosting its annual fair on Feb. 4, 2009, in the Lewis and Clark room in The Union from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. During the day, numerous local reality companies will be available to answer questions and inform students on available options.