Living on campus is one of the quintessential college experiences. But after a time, dorm life gets redundant. Moving into an apartment off-campus is a rite of passage, but the process isn't as easy as it seems. Here are five tips for snagging your dream apartment.
WildcatPad is your friend
by Reedhima Mandlik
Most overwhelmed, bewildered students tend to turn to the first Northwestern-related website they can find in their search for the dream apartment. WildcatPad is easy to use if looking for roommates with a place already in mind, but be wary of the offers unless you want to end up living with a sketchy guy named Bob from Skokie. If looking for a specific kind of apartment, don’t bother with the most recent listings – you’ll spend forever sifting through apartments that look great at first, but will always have something you don’t like. Utilize the search filters instead, but only select the house type and max number of bedrooms so that you aren’t limiting other workable options, or else WildcatPad will automatically eliminate them for you. Apartment hunting takes time, so make sure you bookmark all the listings that work for you, and then go through and use the map function to figure out how far away from campus they are. Through careful research and just a bit of luck with WildcatPad, you may just find the dream bachelor pad you're looking for.
Location, location, location
by Jim Alrutz
Location is a huge part of the hunt, especially if you don't have a car. Even if you find a huge space with good rent, walking to Ridge and Davis in subzero temperatures may give you pause for thought. Places closer to campus get progressively more expensive and are often less spacious, so you need to decide upfront if you want to prioritize location over other factors. If you're an engineer living with a theater major, or a similar geographically-separated pairing, you'll have to decide if you want something closer to North or South Campus. Finally, don't forget to consider distance from groceries and other essentials – living close to the Purple Line or the movie theater are necessary perks.
by Nesa Mangal
Just as important as finding the proper roommate is starting the process early. When you begin your search will influence the location, price and availability of your apartment to be. It isn’t impossible to find prime locations off-campus, but they do go quickly, so the latest you should start your apartment search is the beginning of winter quarter. Most leases are signed by the spring quarter before the next school year, so you should have a location secured by then. Along with WildcatPad, don’t hesitate to call up your upperclassmen friends who live off-campus; they won’t need their apartments next year and you’ll get first dibs of their place before the landlord opens it up to other people.
Pick your landlord, not just your apartment
by John Hardberger
In any college apartment, the landlord (to use a crude but all-too-appropriate expression) has his or her tenants by the balls. Because college students need to live close to campus, the landlords that own those buildings tend not to keep the best eye on their upkeep. In old apartments like the ones most students live in, repairs are needed regularly and they tend to come slowly and with much foot-dragging on the part of management. But there are, of course, shining exceptions to this rule. You should do your best to seek them out. Meet your landlord before signing a lease – you wouldn’t get married or, heck, move in with someone without knowing them first, would you? Your relationship with your landlord is a lot like that. But if the property owner seems more like a Scrooge McDuck than you'd hoped, don’t despair: Keep your fingers crossed and, with luck, you might at least wind up with a responsive and helpful handyman.
Choose your roommate carefully
by Lauren Kravec
Just because you're best friends does not mean you'll be best roommates. Sadly, you and a your best friend might have very different lifestyles that simply don't mesh. One of the biggest issues is cleanliness: If your friend is a neat freak and you only clean your room once a month, you might argue over how to keep your apartment or do chores. Sleep and shower schedules could cause friction too, especially if you typically go to bed earlier than your friend or you both like to shower in the morning. While these issues can be easy to deal with using proper communication, they can also tear apart a great friendship. When choosing who to live with, make certain that you choose someone whose lifestyle is compatible with yours. It's not worth the heartbreak of a ruined friendship to find out too late that you don't want to clean as much as your new roommate.