The Daily Illini

Finding an apartment is not an easy process

Brian Nguyen

Brian Nguyen

By Elani Kaufman, Assistant Buzz Editor

After two years in the dorms, I knew it would be time to get out. I idealized what apartment life would be like, dreaming of a room of my own and a kitchen that didn’t subscribe to dining hall hours. But when it came time to figure out my living situation, my dream-world bubble was popped.

I had no idea what I was getting into. When I called my dad, a University alum, for apartment-hunting advice, I received no help — my dad had lived in a fraternity all four years and knew nothing about living outside the fraternity house. I was given one piece of advice: get renter’s insurance.

With that thoughtful but rather useless sentiment, I began the search for an apartment, along with my current roommates.

I had many considerations when scrolling through the leasing agencies of Champaign-Urbana: location, price, location, utilities.

I wanted to find a place that made sense location-wise, close enough to the Main Quad that I wouldn’t have to lose too much precious sleep, but far enough that the rent wasn’t astronomical.

Then, of course, there was transit: Could I hop on a bus and get to my job in Urbana, or would I have to walk in the icy, frigid Midwest winter in the mornings?

An aspect of apartment-hunting that isn’t at first apparent is utilities. The price of rent is meaningless unless you know what utilities are included in it. An apartment might look like a steal until you add the utilities in. Internet, electricity and water are all things that cost money and if it isn’t included in the rent, it’s additional bills to take care of at the end of each month.

My naive former self was duped a few times by this, only to be heartbroken by the actual price of rent.

Visiting potential apartments was a beast of its own. Trying to coordinate a tour through an apartment with three other people in different majors on different schedules that make it near impossible for times to align is like an Olympic sport.

After touring multiple buildings came the arguing. The apartment had to be realistic for each person and given how spread out my roommates and I were across campus, sacrifices had to be made. No one was going to get everything she wanted, and the sooner we accepted that the easier it was to make decisions.

If anything, the apartment-hunting process taught me it’s the prime opportunity to learn if you’ll get along with your roommates and to get a good idea if you can honestly live together. People’s true colors come out when they are arguing. A few friends of mine got so fed up during the hunting process that they ended up finding new roommates because of this.

Luckily, my future roommates and I agreed on certain things, but price ended up preventing us from choosing our favorite place. We ended up going with our second choice, which somehow miraculously worked out for everyone.

In the end, I am happy with the result. I can hop on a bus when I have a morning shift at work, and I can cook whenever I please. But most importantly, I can get a few extra minutes of shut-eye in the morning, and really, is there anything more valuable than that?

Elani is a junior in LAS.

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