Housing decisions: Fools rush in


By Harsha Bellamkonda

Over the past two weeks, I have been asked by no fewer than seven people where I will be living next year. I replied the exact same way each time: “I don’t know. I haven’t even thought about that yet.” They were all surprised by my response, but I was surprised by their questions.

It’s hard to tell how early is too early to be thinking about housing options, as many students have already started looking for places to live next year.

Obviously, college students should start exploring housing choices early, especially due to the high demand. However, students should slow down and take their time rather than rush to sign a lease fall semester. College students should take the time to organize and plan out their housing search to reach a well-informed final decision.

The vast variety of living options can confuse even the most organized of people. There are a large number of potential homes spread out over campus including apartments, houses, Private Certified Housing and University Housing. If one thinks about it, an overabundance of choices isn’t necessarily beneficial when it comes to choosing a place to stay.

Not only that, but there are a multitude of factors that affect our decision on where to live such as location, price, size, number of roommates, cleanliness, etc. These factors not only sway our decisions immensely, but also keep changing. It’s too early at this point to tell what our final preferences will be.

Maybe now you have three roommates lined up, ready to live with you. Perhaps a month later, one of them might pull out. You might have wanted a big apartment at first, but now you’d compromise with a smaller one depending on the cost.

The point is, when you still have a big gap of time before you actually move in to your new home, it’s easy for your preferences to switch around.

Nikolaos Kontakos, freshman in Engineering agrees.

“My initial preference was to live in my fraternity house because I already knew everybody, and it would be convenient to get to fraternity events,” he siad. “But now I’m leaning toward an apartment over my fraternity house because there’s less people. It’s easier to manage and there’s more space.”

Taking into account Kontakos’ experience, it’s not a bad idea to wait longer to start looking for a future home or to sign a lease. Making a decision too early could hurt you later on, especially if your priorities change.

Another problem with rushing into a decision is that many students might miss little factors with significant consequences, such as there not being a bus stop close by, which could be important in the winter, or shabby upkeep, which students in a hurry to finalize their plans might not notice.

These reasons are why college students should start their search and make their decision later. But people do have their misgivings.

Many people fixated on finding apartments might argue about the high demand, but these worries shouldn’t be as severe or dire or as many students think.

The myth that we college students have to sign a lease or housing contract before fall semester ends just to get a good place for the next fall semester isn’t true now that the vacancy rate has grown. (http://www.tenantunion.illinois.edu/faq.html#2)

Close to campus, although most three, four and five-bedroom furnished apartments go on the market in October for move-in the following August, not all available rooms are leased immediately. By the end of December, many of these larger apartments are filled, especially if they are in Champaign, south of Green Street and east of Second Street, but many are still on the market for months after that. (http://www.tenantunion.illinois.edu/faq.html#2)

Still, that allows students more time than is typically perceived to search for apartments and find a good fit.

Basically, unless you’re adamant on living in one of the most popular apartments, you will not end up homeless if you start looking later in first semester or spring.

While deciding where to live is a major decision, it shouldn’t cause students immense worry and lead them to make a quick decision that might not be completely informed. We should plan out our search and decision, so that we end up picking the perfect home.

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