Aggies, here's how to house-hunt
like a pro
April 29, 2009 | For a lot of incoming USU freshmen,
college can be quite an adjustment. Physically, socially
and mentally, your world changes at the very moment
you wave good-bye to Mom and Dad. With all the changes
you encounter in your college years, there is one thing
you should be able to count on -- home. That is, a home
away from home.
Finding a good place to live during college can be
challenging if you don't know where, or how, to look.
Some students end up moving a few times before finding
the "right" place. Some USU students I know
have slept on their friends' couches for a summer. It's
all part of the college experience, some might say.
However, to make the most out of your college experience,
it helps to live in a place that suits you and all those
wonderful facets that got you into college in the first
As a single student who has lived in six (count 'em,
six) different places throughout her prolonged college
career (on the fifth year here, folks), I can offer
some seasoned advice to single USU students who are
house-hunting. Here are some things to consider on your
1. Living in on-campus housing your first year is
a good idea. Face it, if you're a freshman, you're
probably feeling pretty clueless and lost. Living in
close quarters with a bunch of diverse people will introduce
you to new things, expand your knowledge, help you build
friendships and help you become involved in school activities.
USU offers a lot
of different on-campus housing arrangements.
2. Consider what kind of housemate you are and the
kind of roommates you'd prefer. Think about this
before throwing a group together to rent a house. If
you're very studious and can't stand loud noise, you
might not want to live in what could turn into a party
house. I experienced this first-hand. Though I don't
regret it now, I had a hard time with it at first. All
I'm saying is, be prepared for the unexpected if you
don't know who you're living with before you move in
3. Get to know your potential landlord a little.
This is more important than you might think. Are they
humorless and will fine you $50 if the doorknob breaks
off accidentally? Are they unreliable or are they accommodating?
If they are with a realty company, do some research
on that company before you seal the deal. I once had
a really ditzy landlord (seriously) who never gave me
a straight answer about anything. On several occasions,
I woke up to construction workers at my door at 8 a.m.
without any warning. Not good, my friends.
4. Beware of scams. If you're trying to buy
or sell a rental contract online, be very wary of transactions
outside the U.S. There are a lot of people in cyberspace
who want large sums of your money. You know those e-mails
you get from Fifi from the Ivory Coast whose father
is dying and needs your help transferring his money
to U.S. banks? Yeah, I once came very close to being
scammed by Fifi.
5. One question: Can you afford the place? Living
within your means is a lot better than being evicted
because you're trying to live outside of them.
6. Safety first! You're a grown-up now, so you
have to watch your own back. When touring a house or
apartment, look for working smoke detectors, gas and
CO monitors, working door and window locks, and non-explosive-looking
appliances. (I was electrocuted by turning on an old
stove once. Trust me.) Also, check out the breaker system—the
ones with glass knobs often appear in older houses and
are dangerous if you're not an electrician.
7. Cleanliness is good. Don't live in a cheap
dump if you can help it. Things like mold in the bathroom
and asbestos in the ceiling will make you very sick,
so look for these things. Also check for signs of rodent
and insect infestation.
8. Think of the amenities you like. Will lack
of a dishwasher cause you to throw dirty dishes out
the window? Do you have your own furnishings, or do
you need a place that's furnished? Can you live without
9. Remember to have fun. College should be a
great experience, so try and make the best of it wherever
you end up living. Just don't get electrocuted.