You’re in your second semester. Everyone is already talking about where they want to live next year. Whether you’re completely clueless or have it all figured out, here are six things to think about as you plan for your second year:
1) WHERE will you live?
You probably know the three keys to real estate: location, location, location. And you know better than I do about where you’d like to live. Two particular things I hope you’ll think about:
Connectedness to campus. When I was a second-year student at Ohio State circa 2008, I lived in an apartment East of High Street. Although I was a 7-minute walk from campus, I felt less connected to the campus. I was no longer surrounded by hundreds of other students like I was in my first-year residence hall. It took more effort to travel to and from campus for class. I hadn’t realized how living on campus is great for staying connected, making new friends, and maintaining a large support network in your home (residence hall). You can still do this when living off campus, it just takes more effort (i.e. get involved!).
Safety. If you are unfamiliar with an off-campus area, check out the police crime reports for that area before signing a lease.
2) WHO will you live with?
Perhaps by now you’ve figured out how to live with a roommate (if you live on campus). Yes, it can be stressful to share such tiny space with a stranger. You’re probably itching to have your own bedroom.
Lucky for you, upperclassmen residence hall options often contain more space and amenities than a traditional first-year room. If you make the leap to live off campus, you will surely have more space. With more space comes more room for problems to arise. I speak from experience when I say that seeing your roommate’s 4-day-old dirty dishes in the sink will drive you crazy. Also, a disagreement on the location of toothpaste in the bathroom somehow becomes the fight of the century.
Just because you move to a bigger place doesn’t mean the roommate problems will go away. They will continue, but you will improve your ability to solve them. The university can also help you find roommates.
3) HOW will you pay for housing? How MUCH will you pay?
Residence hall expenses will be paid through your tuition and fees bill once per semester. Do you have the funds (whether it’s loans, aid, or pure money in da bank) to cover this twice a year?
With off-campus living, you will have several bills to pay on a monthly basis: rent, electric and/or gas, cable/Internet, sometimes water and trash. You will likely need a checking account and reliable source of funds (i.e. money in da bank) to pay these expenses every month.
Sure, living on campus is a bit pricey. But consider the many benefits (safety, proximity to classes, activities, sense of community, meal blocks) and decide if those benefits are worth the cost.
When living off campus, your utility bills will change with the seasons. Do your research about these off-campus living expenses.
4) WHEN will you live there?
Pay attention to the move-in date (on-campus) or lease start date (off-campus). Consider any factors (e.g. summer job, fall commitments) that might affect your ability to move-in at the start date.
While residence halls close in the summer, most off-campus leases include the summer months. Check your lease for policies regarding moving out and subleasing (if necessary).
Living off campus means you must assume new responsibilities: cooking, cleaning, paying bills, and understanding the legal obligations of signing a lease.
Learning to cook for yourself is a skill that’s perfected with time and experience. Heck, I’m 25 and I still set off the fire alarm in my apartment when I use the oven sometimes (#truestory). But living off campus or in a residence hall such as Neilwood Gables) will require you to use a kitchen.
And seriously, that part about paying bills and legal stuff: signing a lease with your name means you are the adult responsible for the place you are living.
6) Take ACTION!
University Housing contract renewals are available beginning Saturday, January 25th. Check your university email for more info.
Consider joining the STEP program. Not sure what STEP is? Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post dedicated to the STEP experience.
If you decide you’re living off campus, use offcampus.osu.edu as a starting point for finding a place. If you haven’t already started looking, do so ASAP – off-campus places in the University District will fill up fast.
If you’ve already signed a lease, get your plans in order.