The search for an off-campus apartment can be tedious and time consuming. Browse the pages of an Apartment Finder and there are literally hundreds of apartment and town home listings. But where to start searching? How can you be sure you’re getting what you want?
After living on campus for two years, junior Lauren Broadway decided to make the switch to off-campus housing.
“My roommate and I just drove around and took tours of different apartments that were close to campus,” she said.
The specific criteria she had in mind?
“I was really just looking for a bigger, nicer apartment, one with an actual closet, private bathroom, and a normal sized bed.”
According to Alexandra Stuart, Off-Campus Housing Coordinator at USF students should first consider price and location. Then determine the type of apartment you’re looking for: college style or regular.
Stuart notes that college style and regular apartments are very different.
“If you’re looking for the ‘college experience,’ then we recommend college-style, but if you’re looking for a more mature atmosphere, then we suggest the regular apartments,” she said.
Most college style apartments are furnished, individually leased, come with all utilities included, and are generally closer to campus, Stuart said.
“There are still some regular apartments close to campus. Regular apartments aren’t furnished, or individually leased, and utilities aren’t included, it’s family style,” Stuart said.Broadway agrees that it’s important to determine your criteria up front when finding an apartment.
“While looking for apartments, make sure you know the exact qualities you want and don’t stop [looking] until you find them,.” Broadway said.
Broadway also recommends students ask to see the room and the building before signing a lease.
Reading all paper work and asking questions before signing is also crucial in a successful apartment search, particularly because not all apartments offer the same leasing options.
“Most college style leases are for one year, from August to August. A couple have nine month leases, but they might charge you extra, and Collegiate Hall’s leases end in July,” Stuart said.
It’s also important to find out what should happen if a roommate terminates a lease.
“If a roommate leaves (In college style apartments), you are not responsible for finding another [one]. [The apartment] will provide you with one,” says Stuart. That is not typically the case with regular apartments.
Stuart also advises students to “compare apartments just so you have a better idea of what you want. And start early so you’re not rushing.”
It is advice that Broadway agrees with.
“I would have started a lot earlier in the search,” Broadway said. “We waited until last minute and did not have many choices. Thankfully it all ended up for the best. I love living off campus.”
For more information on off-campus housing, including a roommate search, and brochures on individual apartment complexes, you can visit the Off-Campus Housing Center online at www.sg.usf.edu.