Stay calm during apartment-hunting chaos


Mark Capapas

Apartment buildings line the streets of Champaign on Fourth and Chalmers streets on May 26. The rush of searching for a place to live each year can be overwhelming, especially if students don’t know where to begin.

By Bella Keys, Staff Writer

If you’re in college and are beginning to search for an apartment for the first time, the process can be a little overwhelming. There’s always a rush to sign a lease and to find roommates almost immediately after the fall semester has started. This can be extremely stressful because you’re making decisions on who to live with so early in the year that you don’t know if these relationships will be maintained at the end of the year. Plus, there’s the worry about money. Everyone you are living with may have different budgets and ideas for what they think is important to have in an apartment. Here are a few good things I learned from my first apartment search.

Call dibs on your prospective roommates

First, you need to make sure that you lock your roommates in early. Start talking to those who you enjoy being around and are closest with about living together as soon as you can. If you wait, your friends may get asked by someone else and end up signing without you. You also need to make sure you have found a reliable roommate. When I was searching for a roommate, I asked a friend of mine who ended up ditching me, and because of that, I will end up having to live with two girls I don’t know next year. This was devastating for me and a difficult situation to avoid because it’s hard to know if the person is going to flake on you. So, when choosing a roommate you need to have multiple people to live with instead of just one because a group is harder to back out of. If you’re dead set on one roommate, you should sign a lease with them very early or make sure you can really trust them. Picking roommates is something that causes people’s stress to skyrocket and, because of that, even friends can act in crazy ways. So it is best to secure your roommates early and sign a lease promptly.

Choose your apartment wisely

Once you’ve got your roommates secured, it’s time to pick an apartment. Before you go about choosing an apartment, you should discuss what the price range will be. This is especially important because if one of your roommates has a low price range and you begin touring apartments much pricier than they can afford, it can become difficult for them to tell you they can’t afford that price range, especially if the other roommates begin to advocate for a specific apartment. After settling on a price range it’s important to talk about what everyone wants in the apartment. Some people will want kitchens with dishwashers and don’t care if the bedrooms are smaller and others will want lots of space and are fine with hand-washing their dishes. It’s important to make a small list with a couple of features that everyone who will be living in your apartment wants so when you look for apartments you can rule bad options out immediately. Another important thing to do would be for all of you to go on the apartment tour. It may be tempting to agree to live somewhere by looking at pictures of the place and listening to good reviews from your roommates, but you can’t know if you really vibe with the place unless you’ve been there in person. 

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Find examples of decorations your roommates agree on

If you’ve found an apartment everyone can agree on, it would be a good idea to take pictures of everything. Over the summer, I used the videos I had taken of my future apartment to plan exactly how I wanted to decorate my room and living area. This was very helpful because those pictures made it clear what kind of space was available in the apartment. A beautifully decorated apartment will really make a difference on how you perceive it. If it is decorated with love the place will begin to feel more like  home. Good luck, and happy apartment hunting!

Bella is a junior in LAS.

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