Alexis Marchitte—In honor of signing my lease this week for my house next year, I want to share my experiences with house/apartment hunting in Brockport. It has been a 6 week long battle but we finally found the perfect house to live in during my junior year. There is a lot that goes into finding the right off-campus housing, from size to location to price to landlords. I’m no expert but I’m here to tell you everything I’ve learned throughout the process.
There are many options to pick from when looking to not live in the dorms. There are apartment complexes like the College Suites, The Crossings and several other large buildings. There are entire houses to rent or partial houses to rent that have multiple apartments within them. There are the Townhomes that are still on campus but more apartment-like than the dorms. Although since they are on campus and run by the college they still have RAs and they’re not much more affordable than the dorms. I think the main reasons that college students look for off-campus housing is A.) to save money and B.) to have more freedom. My main reason for moving off campus is to save money. According to Brockport’s website the cost of Room and Board is $12,418 a year for undergraduate students. After speaking with several landlords, off-campus housing rent is around $2,500 a semester, plus around $50-150 in monthly utilities and you’ll have to account for groceries and anything that isn’t furnished. If you’re frugal like myself, you’ll be able to not break the bank when living off campus.
At the end of my freshman year I started asking upperclassmen that I worked with when I should start looking at houses. Their responses ranged from August to November, so I figured the sooner I could figure it out the better. Although the entire village of Brockport is filled with college housing, they do sell fast. We started looking at houses around the 3rd week of school and already many of them were filled. You can assume around half of these houses are filled with juniors who plan to re-lease for their senior year. So let’s say around 50% are available. Then you have to account for size, location and your landlord.
Before you even start looking for houses you have to figure out who you’re living with. One landlord told me that looking at houses is a waste of time until you know exactly how many people you’re living with. The first few weeks of my house hunting was a disaster because not everyone I was planning to live with was 100% sure about living together. We ended up going separate ways but it took us a while to figure out how many people to live with. I’m going to go off tract here for a minute to tell everyone that you DO NOT have to be best friends with the people you are choosing to live with. Also if you do not choose to live with your best friends that DOES NOT mean that you can’t be friends anymore. That is one of the positive factors of the dorms; you get to live within 3 minutes of all your best friends. When moving off campus you don’t always have the luxury of getting to live with or close by ALL of your friends, but that’s ok, this doesn’t mean you can’t be friends. Anyways once you do figure out who to live with and how many people you need, then and only then you can start making appointments to look at houses/apartments. There are hundreds of options within Brockport so it gets pretty hectic. When I was looking, I used the internet like Craigslist, Google, and there are some landlords who have their own websites. You can also look for houses by driving around the village because the majority of college houses have a “For Rent” sign in the window with a phone number.
Once you start meeting with landlords to tour houses, remember to take pictures, ask questions and don’t be afraid to ask the tenants what they think of the housing and the landlord. You might want to consult with your parents on what they want for you or what you should be looking for. It depends on the parent, but if they’re paying for you, then they might want an input. Unless your parents are like mine and they like to force you to make adult decisions all by yourself. (I’ll thank you one day, mom and dad.) Some of the more important questions to ask landlords are: does it come furnished? How much does it cost? Are the appliances included and how old/new are they? Is there a washer and dryer? Is there parking? Will you be around to fix things or am I responsible for fixing broken items? Am I in charge of landscaping like the lawn and snow removal? ETC. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you want. You want to get a feel for what kind of landlord they are. Like I said, if you have the opportunity, ask the tenants what they think of the housing and their landlords. Some of them can be more strict than your parents, and others can be very lenient and helpful. You have to find the perfect medium. I found that many of these landlords have been renting to college students for years and years so they know what to expect and what works best.
After you find the right amount of bedrooms and a perfect price range for your group, then you can talk about location. There is off-campus housing that is closer to some of the academic buildings than most of the dorms are, and then there are houses that are a mile or two away from campus. Unfortunately the house I signed for this week is about a mile away, on the opposite side of Main Street as campus. A mile doesn’t seem too bad, but when it’s snowing and you don’t have a car, it is going to be brutal. Wish me luck that I can work enough this summer to buy a car! You can always bring a bike to school or carpool with roommates!
This is what I’ve learned from the craziness of the last few weeks. My advice to anyone looking for housing is don’t take it lightly. You are going to have to pay for this and you are going to be stuck living with these people. Set ground rules and take it seriously. I wish everyone the best of luck — and remember, the earlier the better! I’m so excited for the adventures to come and I can’t believe I have to wait 10 months before I can live in my perfect little blue house!