It’s that time of year again. Pumpkin spice lattes, spooky baskets, and fall sweaters are in full swing. Unfortunately for UT residents, it’s also the peak of the dreaded housing search process. As a freshman, I feel like I had barely moved in to my dorm before I started feeling the pressure to look for next year’s housing already. After spending weeks touring apartments after class and scrutinizing different floor plans and pricing, I finally decided to sign a lease today. Through this stressful process, I learned a few helpful steps about how to go about your search for places to live next fall.
1. Decide What Floor Plans You Are Interested In
Usually you will be able to narrow your search down a lot more if you and your roommates have an idea about how many rooms and bathrooms you want in your apartment or condo and if you are going to be doing a double occupancy. Some of the common options available in most places are a 4×4, 3×3, 2×2 and 1×1, but sometimes there are also options with individual rooms but shared bathrooms such as a 4×2, 3×2, or 2×1.
2. Figure Out Your Price Range
This will ultimately be the most important factor for many people. Figuring out what you can afford will automatically eliminate many options on campus. Some ways to lower your rent each month to within your budget include choosing an apartment with more rooms, sharing a double occupancy room, and living further off campus. Consider these factors and prioritize them by what you value most in order to save as much money as possible.
3. Know the Distance You Are Willing to Live From Campus
Obviously, living farther off campus will be a big determinant in what price your monthly rent will come to. It’s good to keep in mind the reasons why certain distances would be best for you. For example, for people who have cars or are willing to take the bus, living a few miles off campus isn’t too much of a burden. Also considering where you will be taking classes next year is important too. For example, students who take classes in specific buildings such as McCombs may be want to live closer to campus than those taking classes at Moody.
4. Be Wary of Housing Marketing Strategies
Many times, leasing agents of an apartment will attempt to lure students in with special “discounts” or promos that aren’t as promising as they seem. These strategies are in place to persuade people to sign a lease with them as quickly as possible to secure early bird rates or extra benefits such as gift cards or fee waivers. While this may seem appealing, it is important to consider all factors and housing options before making a hasty decision. Signing fast may save you some money now, but in the long run it could be a decision you regret.
5. Read Building Reviews & Talk to Students Currently Living There
Once you have done all the research you can on your own, the best thing to do is to hear from the people who have lived in the apartment building or condos you are interested in. While taking a tour may make a place seem amazing, reviews from students on their experiences living there may tell you a lot about issues like unreliable management, faulty elevators, extra fees or more. I recommend looking for reviews on Yelp, apartmentratings.com, or just by searching up the apartment building on Google. Definitely talk to as many people as you can before making a final decision.
I hope these tips from my experience in the off-campus housing search were helpful. Congratulations to all who have decided to sign a lease and good luck to those who are still looking for a place!
By: Sanjana Reddy