Editorial | Six ways to master campus housing


Cameron Krasucki

Natalie Romanes, sophomore in LAS, pulls a cart of belongings into Wassaja Hall on Aug. 20.

Choosing the best place to live is never easy. Specifically for college students, there seem to be unlimited and limited options available when deciding where to live, who to room with, how to decorate, what leasing companies to avoid and so much more. For most students, this is your first time living on your own — it’s hard not wanting perfection.

However, the housing process is never flawless. Perhaps your budget limits you to fewer amenities or maybe an apartment in Urbana is far from campus bars? Either way, by using these tips and understanding housing search obstacles, you can navigate campus housing and discover the perfect place for you.

The newer the dorm, the better. Although all University dorms serve the same purpose — providing basic amenities and a great introduction to independent living — some dorms are simply better than others. For instance, dorms like Allen Hall and LAR are nice for their tranquil Urbana locations, but without air conditioning, the rooms can become impromptu saunas. 

New or renovated dorms such as ISR and Wassaja are constantly coveted for all the right reasons. Featuring air conditioning, access to tremendous dining halls and more modern rooms, newer residence halls should rightly be everyone’s top priorities. When choosing dorms, shoot for what’s new, and even if you miss, you’ll hopefully land among starry, air-conditioned halls.

Background check your roommate. Not in a literal sense, but ensuring you and your roommate are compatible is a housing must. This is someone you may walk in from a brutal exam and cry to, awkwardly laugh around while watching a movie across the room or walk naked into — it’s a big deal.

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Accordingly, rooming with your best friend is a housing miss: Just like the housing process, there’s no perfect roommate. Finding someone you’re just comfortable with is better compared to risking your friendship over defining borders for the mini-fridge.

Tour locations in person.

Particularly for apartment searches, visiting in person rather than using online tours or videos is imperative. Online, landlords or leasing companies can depict entirely different apartments than what’s advertised. By touring locations in person, you can not only inspect rooms, appliances and furniture but begin to design how you’ll utilize and decorate the space. Pictures tell one story; tours tell the reality.

Beware “luxury” apartments.

Throughout the Champaign-Urbana apartment scene, “luxury” is the latest craze. High rises featuring pools, balconies and larger rooms arise regularly and promise a grand living experience — an experience often exaggerated. Not only are most “luxury” apartments overpriced, but frequently these buildings feature cheap constructions or foundations. Because the apartments are quickly constructed, concerns regarding cut corners and cheap materials are valid as these buildings later experience irritating issues. For instance, one might pay around $1,000 to lease but deal with repeated flooding and electrical issues.

“Luxury” is nice to consider, but remember its implications. Nevertheless, any college apartment is “luxurious” as long as its utilities stay on and water remains in the faucet — not bursting out the walls.

Research the right leasing company. No leasing company will be your friend. Still, researching and finding the least frustrating one will make your school year a breeze. Reddit will also be your friend when learning which companies are helpful. Moreover, choosing whether to trust a national versus local leasing brand is beneficial in terms of maintenance responses, liability issues and customer service quality.

Know your rights. On the University’s Office-Campus Community Living website, tenant rights and legal guidance are provided to protect you from exploitation and violations such as leaks, flooding, infestations and hot water complications. Furthermore, these rights are more relevant than ever especially as students share showers and stories of Seven07’s hot water outage.

In addition to knowing your tenant rights, understanding when to apply them is crucial to ensure you’re happy and your space is habitable while living on campus.

The housing scene in CU can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Fortunately, there are about four years and chances for your preferred dorm and apartment. It won’t come easy, but applying these tips ensures a smoother search to avoid a rocky room.

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