House hunting for college can be a daunting process, especially if the area is foreign. There are measures that you can take to make the process easier. You need to land the best type of accommodation for you because you will spend most of your time there when you are not on campus. Here are some tips you can note of when looking for college housing.
1. Start Early
Waiting until the last minute to find housing is overwhelming. You may then have to settle for whatever is available, as most spaces may have been occupied. You should make it a habit to start any type of house hunting while there is still time. In this case, once you have accepted a college placement, you should start scouting for housing. If you live far from the college, you will need to rely on online information regarding the geographical dynamics and the available housing options.
You may come across websites such as colonial-house.com which illustrate the type of accommodation you can find. The more detailed the website is, the more confident you can be regarding the advertised accommodation. Once you have looked at such websites, you can take notes of the information provided regarding the space so that you can make informed decisions.
2. Use Trusted Sources
The digital space is convenient for information sharing and gathering. However, anyone can upload information and that can sometimes include inauthentic information. You need to make sure that you are using trusted, verified, and recommended online sources to guide you in your house hunting. You want to avoid getting scammed into paying a fee or getting lured into a compromising deal.
3. Set a Budget
You need to set a budget for housing. A budget will guide you in the direction of the type of housing and neighbourhood that you can scout. For example, if your budget is aligned with a two-bedroom apartment, you won’t waste time scouting in areas where there are only three or more-bedroom apartments. Make sure to include utilities in your budget. Keep in mind that the priority is to find housing that is conducive for studying.
4. Visit the Houses
If you live close to the college, you are at an advantage because you can physically scout the houses. Depending on the college that you are attending, there may be a housing faculty which assists students with accommodation both on- and off-campus. You can sign up for their help to better go through your options. It’s advised to visit the different houses with a person accompanying you as this is a safety precaution.
5. Consider Distance from Campus
You need to find housing that is relatively close to campus. Some of your lectures may be in the evening, for example, meaning you will have to go back to your house when it’s dark. It’s advised that you don’t travel long distances when it’s dark. Living close to campus also means that you save on transport costs as you will have to travel the road almost daily.
6. Assess Amenities
You need to consider the amenities that are provided by the potential housing unit and those that aren’t. This will make you aware of what you need to purchase, bring from home, or whether you decide to keep searching for housing that provides all the amenities you require. For example, one particular housing unit may provide a washing machine but not a dryer. Another may be fully furnished while another requires you to furnish the entire apartment or house.
7. Look at Living Arrangements
Living arrangements vary depending on the type of housing. You may find housing where you will need to share the space. You may then decide to team up with a friend and choose that type of housing. On the other hand, you may feel might not prefer the sharing option meaning that type of housing is ruled out. Another type of housing may be such that you share a house with other students meaning your private space in your bedroom while you share the kitchen, lounge and bathroom. The living arrangements you choose should be one that you will be comfortable with.
8. Consider Safety Measures
Your safety is priority meaning you need to do as much research about the living space. You can find out whether the housing provides various safety systems such as monitors, alarms, and patrol systems. Find out the rate of crime in the neighbourhood by asking those who live in the neighbourhood and college housing facilities if possible. If you can physically visit the space, you will be able to tell whether you are at ease with the location of the housing.
9. Analyse Housing Contracts
The housing contract needs to be analysed before you sign on the dotted lines. Once you sign the contract, you can’t get disgruntled by certain dynamics of the housing that were stated in the contract but didn’t read through.
For example, you must look at the rules that come with the housing. The landlord may require certain quiet times, might not allow gatherings at the property, and in some cases; require you to be home by a certain hour for various reasons that will be stipulated. The rules that are written on the contract will make you realise whether it is the type of housing that you can comfortably live in or not. Your lifestyle may not gel with the living conditions of the housing, meaning you may have to keep searching.
You need to look at the financial section of the contract. Make sure you are comfortable with the stipulated amount of deposit. For example, certain housing structures require 6 months’ worth of deposit from foreign students, a presentation of study permit and passport. If you aren’t comfortable with these dynamics or can’t meet the requirements, you aren’t in a position to negotiate. Make sure to check the stipulated payment method required and make sure that you can meet this preferred mode of transfer.
Once you are satisfied with the content of the contract, you can go ahead and sign.
10. Be Thorough In Your Search
Being thorough in your search means being dedicated and committed to house hunting. You may need to look at the various channels of house hunting information. These may include online searches, print such as newspapers and brochures, college housing information, word of mouth and if possible, physical scouting. The reason why it’s important to cover most of your base is that you may lose out on the most ideal type of accommodation because of a half-hearted search. You may have found housing closer to campus, cheaper or safer housing. Half-hearted searches may lead to you having to move in a short period from when you moved in.
11. Use an Agent
Depending on your budget, you can use an agent to find housing. Keep in mind that you will have to pay agent fees meaning searching for housing on your own is cheaper. However, you may from an international country and may face language barriers, or you may not have the time that is needed for the process. In some such cases, you may need to consult an agent.
An agent will search all the possible housing types for you and create a shortlist based on the wish list that you would have provided. Once you can physically take a look at the places, you can then make your decision, or ask the agent to continue searching if you are not satisfied.
12. No Contract, No Pay
Unfortunately, some unscrupulous individuals take advantage of students looking for housing. There are always different scams that are orchestrated to hoodwink students. Make sure that you don’t part with any money before you sign a contract. Some services will tell you that for you to view the place; you need to pay a stipulated sum of money. The problem with such arrangements is that you may be shown a place that isn’t listed, yet you would have paid for the viewing. In most cases, such individuals simply pose as agents yet they aren’t registered.
13. Trust Your Gut
After having followed the various steps to house hunting, you should always trust your gut. Your instincts will tell you when certain relationships, agreements and expectations are off. Most of the time, your gut is right.
House hunting is a process that requires your dedication and time for the best possible result. Your housing set up should be ideal because you will spend most of your time there. When looking for housing during college; you should start early, use trusted sources, and set a budget. Keep in mind to include utilities in your budget. Be thorough in your search, use an agent if you have to, and don’t part with money easily. Always trust your gut.
If possible, you should scout the areas physically, consider distance from campus and assess the amenities provided. Consider living arrangements, safety measures and analyse your contract.