November, like every other month, is an exciting time at Ohio State. Between the semester starting to wrap up, Beat Michigan Week, and Thanksgiving, there’s plenty to do this month on and off campus. Something else that’s exciting, but can also be incredibly stressful, is figuring out where you want to live next year.
“But Andy!” you say, “I remember move-in day like it was yesterday. And now you expect me to already think about where I want to live next year?!”
Well anonymous voice, the good news is that if you’re choosing to return to campus and live in a residence hall again, your housing contract isn’t even issued until second semester, so you have plenty of time to decide on specifics. However, if you want to live off campus, now is the time to start looking for housing. Most rental companies are already giving tours and signing leases, so it’s in your best interest to get started now. After all, you want plenty of options when looking for your dream apartment!
Here are five essentials to keep in mind as you begin your off-campus search.
1. Establish a Price Range (and Keep Utilities and Furnishings in Mind)
To many, price is the most important criterion when looking for an apartment or house. After all, college isn’t cheap, and housing is one of the most expensive things you’ll spend your money on besides tuition. Most leasing companies allow you to search properties by cost on their website, so determine the amount you’re willing to spend every month and begin your search from there. Remember, most landlords are going to ask you to sign a lease for a full year going through the summer, so take into account an extra three months rent if you’re going to move back home. Also, don’t forget about the less obvious fees such as monthly utilities and furnishing your apartment.
2. Figure Out Your Ideal Location
There are plenty of options in terms of location depending on what is most convenient for you. If you’re a business major, consider staying north so you don’t have to walk too far to get to your classes. If being close to the Chipotle on High Street is a deal-breaker, think about staying closer to south campus. There are even rental locations far away from campus that are available if you don’t mind driving in or taking the bus every day! If you decide to go that route, factor in the cost of a parking pass if you plan to drive to campus.
3. Don’t Forget About Laundry!
As a student in a residence hall, all it takes to do laundry is loading up your BuckID and walking down to the laundry room. However, it’s not always that simple when it comes to off-campus housing. When you look at a house, don’t forget to check whether or not there’s a laundry hookup, a common laundry area, or no laundry at all. Chances are you won’t want to have to walk or drive to a laundromat where you’re going to have to pay a higher rate than campus laundry for every load.
4. Take Full Advantage of the USG’s Renter’s Guide
Every year, OSU’s Undergraduate Student Government publishes a Renter’s Guide that provides extensive data and reviews on most rental companies with properties near campus. The guide is based on student responses to questions on topics such as rental cost and how satisfied the student was with the property and landlord. This is undoubtedly the most reliable way to learn about different landlords in the area, and with it you can see a list to compare different realty companies.
5. Don’t Hesitate to Ask OSU Student Legal Services to Look Over Your Lease
A lease is a legal contract, so once you sign it you’re obligated to follow it and are bound to its terms for the stated length. This is probably one of the first, if not the first, legal contract you’ve ever had to sign — so you want to be absolutely sure you understand and agree with everything listed, such as whether or not the landlord can increase your rent during the year you’re leasing and whether or not you have to buy something like renter’s insurance. OSU Student Legal Services staffs trained legal professionals who are here to help you, and chances are you already paid for their services in your yearly tuition.
Don’t end up with a landlord like this!