Kelly Roderick / Lantern photographer
Living in a dorm has perks that are crucial to a student’s college experience. Dorms are the easiest places to meet people and make friends, easing your adjustment into your new home. They can also feel like a sad, dark place where the walls are closing in tighter each day.
In a dorm room, privacy, along with freedom, is scarce if you have a nosy resident adviser. And there’s a good chance that at least once during the school year a roommate will lock you out or you’ll be forced to wake up early or fall asleep late due to conflicting schedules between yourself and those you share a single room with.
Moving off campus often appears as a shiny, golden vision of perfection to freshmen. The thought of having your own room can seem too good to be true. But it’s certainly not as easy as walking east of High Street, pointing at the least-sketchy-looking townhouse in the best location and claiming it as your own.
Acquiring the perfect living situation in college is a dream that will likely just never quite come true. Chances are, most off-campus residents wish they were a little closer to campus, their rent was a little cheaper, their neighbors were a little quieter, or their house was a little bigger.
So it’s best to pay attention to red flags in order to have as few of those problems as possible.
For example, when you’re thinking of renting a townhouse and the girls who live there now tell you the landlord comes in the house with little or no warning, you should consider the awkward situations that might create. No one wants to be surprised by a visit from their 80-something-year-old landlord when you’ve just woken up or just stepped out of the shower.
And when those same girls who warned you about the landlord tell you the walls are paper thin and you can hear everything that goes on in each other’s bedrooms, take that advice to heart. Otherwise, look forward to sleepless nights as you unintentionally eavesdrop on everything happening in the room above or below you.
That house you’re interested in renting, did you take time to really inspect the important rooms, like the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry area? Because if you take a moment to look around, maybe you’ll notice that the dishwasher and refrigerator doors don’t open all the way because the kitchen is too narrow, or the washer door doesn’t stay open on its own because it hits the shelf above it, or the bathroom in the basement is actually the creepiest and most disgusting place on earth.
Furthermore, discuss with your roommates things like adjusting rent in line with bedroom size before you move in. While taking the smallest or dingiest bedroom in the house isn’t the end of the world, I guarantee you’ll be less bitter about your box-sized den compared to your roommate’s master suite if you’re getting a few dollars knocked off your rent payment each month.
Living off campus is wonderful for many reasons, especially when it comes to moving from the prison that was crowded, exiled Lincoln Tower to a decent, cozy little Waldeck Avenue townhouse.
But before you sign a lease, make sure you’re completely satisfied with your decision, and with the company or landlord you’re renting from. Be open-minded throughout the search process, and get started early, because chances are if you wait too long after winter break, you’ll either end up on North Fourth Street in a sketchy, run-down house where you’re constantly fearing for your life, or back in those dorms you so desperately wanted to escape. And for the record, the latter is always the better choice.