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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Housing hassles cause for concern

    Every year, thousands of students flock to the various apartment complexes looking for a year-long party filled with beer bongs and sun bathing. What they don’t look for is evidence that their experience will be anything less than what they imagine.

    Whether you’re a freshman who can’t wait to leave the dorms or an upper level student looking to shake things up, finding the proper place to live can be deceptively difficult. The thrill of anything new, let alone a house or apartment, can be enough to motivate many individuals to enter into a lease without the proper foresight needed.

    Kristi Ellison, a journalism sophomore, chose North Pointe Student Apartments, which she assumed would be an easier transition than living in a house. Though far from campus, she counted on the apartment shuttle to travel back and forth. Last month, Kristi spent her afternoons collecting support for a petition to object the change of shuttle schedules, which received 153 signatures.

    No longer running every forty minutes, the shuttles have become too crowded and leave many students behind to wait another hour. Regardless of making it on the shuttle, students now have to choose between arriving at campus an hour before class or being 5-10 minutes late to every period. Those tenants who set their class schedules according to an assumed shuttle schedule will just have to make do. Those looking to rent apartments must consider the level of dependence their living situation requires on management and, to a much greater extent, the common courtesy of fellow tenants.

    While the appeal of a closely-knit (for better or worse) student environment may hit hard for some, I’ve always found a house to be the much better choice. Having a yard, or even better, two yards, gives a sense of privacy and security that apartments simply cannot provide. The best benefit to living in the dorms for a year is a renewed, vigorous appreciation for privacy and freedom. Like the lure of parties, swimming pools and year-round sun bathing, a desire for privacy and space blurs even the most responsible of young adults.

    With many components to plan for, prioritizing should be every student’s number one – well, priority.

    The bottom-line monthly obligation is the number one factor that you should be concerned about. This is important because it forces a potential renter to truthfully assess needs, wants, and really cool desires. The monthly rent is hard to miss, since it is the principal point of information in advertisements. Where new renters encounter problems are all the extravagant luxuries like warm water, air conditioning, and a flushing toilet. If you have an insatiable appetite for “”Curb Your Enthusiasm”” or “”Entourage,”” you’ll have to weigh your preferences ever more closely.

    In the current economy, monthly rent in the high 300s to low 400s for four walls and a roof can be a great bargain or horrible sham. A friendly monthly rent may sound affordable, but an extra $100 or $200 dollars in utilities, household needs and groceries can be cause for untold stress. A great house close to school is rarely worth the mental toll of scrambling to pay the bills, especially when a student must use loans or depend on parents. More importantly, falling behind in bills can lead to losing Internet or even worse, having DIRECTV turned off days before the Super Bowl.

    It’s critical for potential renters to communicate with previous tenants to address any concerns with the property, house or relationship with the landlord. If the water heater broke in December and was fixed in March, that may be a sign to look elsewhere. On the flip side, students should make sure that they explain their expectations and listen to those of the landlord prior to giving up their John Hancocks. From standards of upkeep to flexibility with late rent, seemingly trivial issues can lead to conflict in the future that leaves all parties worse off.

    Students should know that all assumptions are subject to risk. There’s no such thing as a perfect lease or living situation, especially in the student-housing market. Students need to do what they can to mitigate risk and unreliability with a combination of good judgment, long-term planning and solid advice.

    -ÿDaniel Sotelo is a political science junior. He can be reached at

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