One of the realities of living the college life is that housing is not always a guarantee, especially if you go to a smaller college. Many students also choose to live off-campus on their own, without being forced out by limited on-campus housing options. Either way, going out on your own can be a very difficult process, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. Marist, as well as many other colleges, have compiled a “guide” to help students make their way while living off campus. However, these guides don’t cover a lot of the issues students might face while living on their own off-campus. In this article I hope to address some of those issues and difficulties that students might face.
Always be sure to check your campus website for information on off-campus living. Most colleges offer at least some help or even a full guide that may answer some questions for you. One thing that Marist, as well as other colleges do provide in their off-campus living guides is a good description of how to navigate leases and landlords, as well as common terminology that you may find in a lease agreement, such as “pro-rate.” While these guides don’t answer every question, they can be useful tools to supplement your knowledge going into a new apartment.
One of the first issues students will face is, of course, finding that apartment. Apartment hunting is always a tedious affair, and finding an affordable apartment in a suitable location for a student can be difficult. Using a realtor can be a useful tool in finding an apartment or house but could add costs as well. Without a realtor, it is up to you to do all the work, but if you’re desperate to save some money then it is a viable option. Finding an apartment or house that fits all your criteria; such as location, price, amenities and the like, will be a challenge and you will have to compromise in some aspects because you have a limited timeframe and a lot of competition from other students as well as non students. The best solution, in my opinion, would be to find the best apartment you can and tolerate the shortcomings it may have. Remember that you won’t be living there for more than a year or two. “Yea, we looked at around five places when we were searching for off-campus places. I don’t think any of our group could agree unanimously on one single place, they all had some kinda issue that one of us didn’t think we could handle living with. But with us already committing to the off-campus life and so many other guys trying to get in, we had to just settle on the least offensive place. Some of the apartments we looked at had a wait list just for Marist Students because there were so many people applying for leases and waiting for openings.” says Marist junior Scott Heinrich on his quest for off campus living arrangements with his roommates.
Roommates can be either a great help or a hindrance in off-campus life. They can help you pay rent and other expenses, make living away from campus more tolerable, and also give you new experiences. However, a bad roommate is a nightmare that you are usually stuck with if they signed the lease with you. “We had a group of three going off campus, and we figured we would find a fourth to fill a four bedroom space, more room and probably better places to live… That turned out to be a mistake. Our fourth, let’s call her “Amy,” seemed really cool at first. She was funny, into similar things, and was able to afford the space with no issue. After a few weeks though, she was a total mess. She never helped around the house, was loud and intrusive and always yelled at us. She made our lives hell and we couldn’t get rid of her. We were thankful that at least she paid her rent and wasn’t totally psychotic, but we would never live with her again.” SUNY Purchase senior Courtney Norris recalls her ordeal with a poorly chosen roommate. Be sure to always select your roommates with care, some people can appear great at first, and turn sour very quickly. Even good friends can be the worst housemates.
Once you have found your apartment and selected your roommates, all you have to do is fill your space to your liking, and live there for the school year. There are still some things you may encounter in your off-campus adventures that can drive you crazy. One anonymous Marist student recounts his current living experience, “We live in an apartment in the city of Poughkeepsie, surrounded on 3 sides by neighbors with really thin walls. Our neighbors on two sides are an absolute nightmare to live near. They all have small kids who were always running around and being loud, even early in the morning. Their TVs are way too loud all the time, and it drives us mad every day.” Another Marist student, Donald McCabe, tells of his biggest problem living off-campus, “The parking. By far the worst thing, both on campus and off. Having to park in our apartment complex, which is sort of free-for-all with no assigned spots for the units, is competitive enough to try and get a good spot. Couple that, with the state of Marist parking and it’s enough to drive me insane. I don’t think I ever get a good spot” These are only some of the issues some students have faced in living off-campus.
I have only touched on a few of the things you may have to deal with while living off campus. Some people may face worse situations, and some students may see it as a breeze. Just be sure to choose your roommates wisely, compromise, and don’t spend out of your price range. These tips are vital to successful off-campus living. For more information, be sure to check with Marist or your local college for their off campus living guides.