For international students, searching for off-campus housing can be an interesting journey. While the research that goes behind finding the right apartment can be very time consuming, the feeling of living like an independent adult - managing the rent and all your bills by yourself can be quite rewarding.
Tips before you start your house hunt:
Early bird catches the worm...err..house.
2.Search along with your friends:
Scouring through a city you've never been to for an apartment is not something you want to do by yourself, unless you have all the free time in the world. Most of you must have friends going with you to the same university or would have found people on social media. Divide the areas near the campus among your friends and each person look for apartments in your respective areas and share the information. Saves time. + that's more eyes on the look out.
NETWORK with students who are already there. Since you aren't going to be familiar with the area, talk to the students at the university to get to know upsides and downsides of an area/apartment. Do not end up making a decision by yourself and be stuck with an apartment that you don't like for the whole school year. Lease periods usually last from 6-12 months. Do not compromise on value for money, safety, location and convenience.
What you should consider for house hunt:
- Rent per month: Remember, you get what you pay for.
- Facilities included in the rent: Most of the apartments usually cover heating. Try your best to find such an apartment. Electricity and gas will cost you extra.
- Safety: Just because the rent is cheap some place faaaaaaaar from the campus doesn't mean you can blindly consider it. Compromising your safety for $20/head a month isn't really the smartest thing to do.
- Location and convenience:
This can simply be in terms of -
How well lit is the area?
How far is it from the university?
Are there restaurants/convenience stores close by?
What is the proximity to/from the shuttle stop?
Is the walk to the campus uphill? - You don't want to walk uphill in the winter with the wind blowing in your face.
- Time spent home: Haha. See, this one is pretty important, in my opinion. Give it some thought. If not for the first year, maybe for the second year. Some of you will spend more time on campus than at home. Consider if you can settle for a decent apartment instead of an amazing apartment. No point in spending extra rent money when you're just gonna get back home to sleep.
Two ways to go about this:
- Ideally, you'd want to search for places you like and shortlist them before reaching the US. Get here early and zero in on the place that you like. For people who HAVE to see the place in person before signing a lease, this may the best option.
- Some students prefer to pay a deposit before they leave their countries and reserve the apartment. They get here and sign the lease. If you're comfortable with that, this might be another option you can look at.
Now that you know what are the things you should consider, get started! ;)
Happy House hunting!