By the time midterms role around in the fall, you’ll hear rumors of people signing an apartment lease. The first thought that’ll pop into your head is “Our group of friends better sign a lease tomorrow or the best apartments will be taken!” Don’t panic. Below are my tips to help you with your off-campus housing decision.
- Don’t rush it. While it may seem like everyone is signing a lease, they’re not. (Well they are, but there are still plenty of good options.) Be patient. The market in Madison has more supply than demand. The longer you wait, the more incentive rental companies give you to sign: free half month’s rent, utilities included, discounted rates, etc. So I would wait until finals week or even second semester to sign.
- House or Apartment? Apartments are expensive, likely furnished (pay attention to what is included), and some come with internet, cable, printing or other cool amenities. Houses are bigger, cheaper, unfurnished and are likely old and run down with small bedrooms. Some houses come with parking though which is a plus.
- Keep your group small. Freshman year, I ended up with 9 guys who wanted to live together. Not an ideal situation. Nobody wanted to live in a house and no apartment can fit 9 guys comfortably. Max out your group at six. Any larger and you’ll be in a house or in two apartments side by side.
- Be realistic. Sure it would be cool to live in the Hub or the James, but the truth is that they are over priced. What really makes living in an apartment fun is who you’re with. Finding the right group of friends is the most important thing, not the awesome amenities your apartment has. So before you sign your first lease really ask yourself, “do I want to live with these guys for a whole year?”
Hopefully you found these tips helpful. Comment any other suggestions you might have.