Still don’t have a clue? Devise a plan – now!

By Kristin Maiorano

When I was a freshman, I decided I would avoid the sophomore housing rush; I applied to be a resident advisor. I made it through all of the application stages and even got an interview – and then I didn’t get the job. So I was faced with a decision: Spend another year living in an 10×10 box with another human being or find an apartment in December.

Even as a freshman I knew that the only apartments I would be able to find so late in the leasing season would either have no floor, be inhabited by mice or be a considerable distance from campus … maybe in Danville. So I signed myself up for a cozy little room in Allen Hall.

It was already second semester when my mom asked me if I could at least try to save her a buck by moving into an apartment. I approached a woman from class whom I barely knew and a woman from her residence hall whom she barely knew. We then set out on a quest for a three-bedroom apartment in March.

Ninety percent of the apartments we looked at were exactly what we expected: floors that slanted on a 30-degree angle, windows that let in zero light and carpets that smelled like cats and cigarettes. Still, we persisted.

When we first walked through our future apartment, we could hardly believe our eyes. Was that truly new carpet? A free extra bedroom? A double sink and screened-in porch? And how was this apartment still on the market in March?

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    Needless to say, we signed the lease as soon as we could. We spent the summer getting excited about things like shower curtains and can openers. August quickly arrived, and we finally moved in.

    It was hardly the beautiful homecoming we imagined. We had four desks and only one chair. When I put my clothes away, pieces of wood from my dresser came off onto my hands. We couldn’t boil water on the stove without the pot sliding off the burner. At one point during the year it sounded like it was raining outside. That sound was our upstairs neighbor’s toilet had overflowed, which we realized when water started flowing down our bathroom walls. It was at that point when we vowed to do our next apartment search earlier.

    Last fall, we started looking for apartments in November. But it seemed just as hard to find a nice, clean apartment we all liked. We finally settled on a house divided into two apartments on Oregon Street. For the rest of the year that Urbana apartment was a beacon of light for us when our garbage disposal was broken, our refrigerator was dripping water all over our food or our shower decided not to share its hot water.

    Today, we are in our lovely little Urbana house with a pretty yard and a playground down the street. And guess what? Two weeks ago the power in our kitchen was out for three days. The knob on our air-conditioning is broken, so it only has one setting. The ceiling in my roommate’s shower is so slanted that she can’t use it without sitting in a chair. As for my other roommate, she is pretty sure she saw a black widow spider in our laundry room.

    No matter where you rent and when you find it, you’re bound to have some issues. Even if you fall in love with a place after a five-minute walk-through, there’s no guarantee that the wall won’t cave in after you’ve been there for a week. And trust me, if you don’t go out and lease an apartment tomorrow, you’ll still be able to find a place to call home. Maybe a place you’ll love. Maybe even a place with a shower you can stand up in.