“We got a whole lot of money, but we still pay rent, ‘cause you can't buy a house in Heaven.” – Lady Gaga, “Yoü and I”
It’s That Time of Year
It’s December, the semester is almost complete (but not close enough to the end to feel like it’s finishing), and you’re halfway done with living in the dorms. You decided you were done in September.
Now’s the time to plan where you’re going to live next year. If you didn’t pledge into a fraternity or a sorority, your choices are the residence halls, an apartment, or a house. There are some benefits to living in the dorms again (being on-campus, three-meals-a-day access to the dining centers, et cetera), but college is not just about academics. It’s a life experience. College licenses you a rare opening to practice homeownership, and fail before the consequences are at their most critical.
You build your credit history this way. Whether you are employed or not, you learn how to wake yourself up, get yourself ready, and arrange it so that you can send yourself off to wherever you need to go on time, just like you will do for your career. You familiarize yourself with sharing a household, and, if it wrecks your relationship with your roommates, you’ll know why, you’ll know better, and it won’t end in divorce or any other disaster like it will when you’re older and mishandle a similar situation.
That being said…
This is common sense, but it’s still a common problem: just because somebody is fun to hang out with, doesn’t mean they’re fun to live with.
Roommate compatibility shouldn’t be based off of liking the same music. Your roommate needs to be somebody you can trust with adult responsibilities, such as paying the rent, or cleaning up after him- or herself, or sleeping a few feet away from you every night until your lease expires.
Establish an agreement immediately, about bills, money, groceries, chores, showering, guests, and every other conflict which may ruin even the best of friendships later.
Be honest, and, for the love of Tony Frank, compromise. That’s what mature college students do.
And, of course, the more of you there are, the less you have to spend.
Finding a Place
Personally, I would recommend against a house. You have to keep the yard, you have to shovel the walks, flooding in your basement is a major threat… But, if an apartment is too cramped for you, look for a townhouse. An added benefit is that there are no stairs to climb to get to your unit!
University apartments are full of rowdy college kids, so, be aware of that, and, if your place is furnished, you have to pay for the furniture. My roommate’s father generously furnished our townhome, so we looked for an unfurnished spot.
Call ahead to schedule appointments. Some complexes won’t accept college students. Ask the leasing office about their parking policies, their pet policies, and what the area is like. Sometimes, with rent, you get what you pay for, and less is less, and more is more. Have high standards for this pricey investment! Inspect the model unit carefully, and read what you sign.
Stay near campus. You will miss your bus, you will decide at the last minute not to drive in the snow, and you will walk to school.
Your grants and scholarships cover your tuition, fees, and books, and whatever’s left over is refunded to you.
Apply to Be an R.A.
Free room and board is too incredible a deal to not apply and the application process in and of itself is a priceless experience, even if you don’t get the job. Be prepared for the possibility that you don’t. You won’t know until March or April.
Thank you for reading. Think about these things today, or later will be too late.
Paws up, and go Rams.
Your student ID lets you ride Fort Collins buses for free!