It may be hard to believe that you moved into your dorm less than two months ago, but the year progresses nonetheless. We are now at mid-semester and housing decisions are creeping closer. As a freshman, I was frazzled with the idea of having to choose where I wanted to live for the following year when I had only been in Bloomington for about two months. I was still meeting people and building relationships with those I now call my closest friends, so how was I supposed to make a housing decision? My guess is that some of you are in a similar situation. There are many housing options to choose from, so it’s best to weigh the pros and cons of each and find the one that best fits you.
After freshman year, many more on-campus housing options open up for students. You can live in a single or double dorm again, but this time you have the chance to pick your specific building and room. I lived in a Willkie South single room with a shared full bathroom my sophomore year. I was very happy with this configuration because the bathroom was connected to my room and the floor was mostly quiet. My roommate and I opted to clean our own bathroom, but the residence hall did offer a cleaning service for an extra charge. During the year, my sink started to clog and wouldn’t drain quickly; I contacted maintenance and they had it fixed within a few days. Sometimes it’s difficult to rely on off-campus apartment maintenance or getting in touch with your housing management/landlord, but in my experience, RPS was helpful and took care of every problem.
Willkie has a nice commons area with a complete kitchen that the floor shares, but if you want individual amenities and still have the convenience of being on campus, consider a university apartment. There are plenty of choices: Union Street Center, Willkie, and 3rd & Union are just a few locations. My friend lived at Campus View and really enjoyed it; she had a decent amount of space, a kitchen and pantry, as well as a large balcony. Utilities and other expenses are included in the cost of a university apartment, so you don’t have to worry about paying five different bills every month!
While living on campus does have many advantages, it doesn’t allow as much freedom as off-campus living. If you want to bring your car to Bloomington, you would need to apply for and purchase a parking pass. This would limit you to the spaces in which you could park, as they sell permits by campus neighborhood. This also means if you had visitors over on a weekday, they would not be able to park nearby unless they also had a parking pass.
I have not lived in an apartment off campus, so I have little to say about the pros and cons, but many of my friends did live in an apartment their sophomore year (not the one pictured) and shared some of their experience with me. Most of them enjoyed having more space, a bigger bed, larger closet, and private bathroom. They also took advantage of the kitchen. The price was decent and some of their utilities were included in rent, but this will vary with each apartment complex. They could park for free at their building, but again, this amenity isn’t the same everywhere. Some complexes pass out permits and have a small visitor lot, while others have free parking in general. One factor my friends did not like was how far the apartment was to campus and that the complex’s bus system was unreliable. Nor were they pleased with the maintenance and management because they too were not dependable. Other than that, they found their living situation adequate. This is just one apartment complex; there are so many to choose from if apartment living is the option you want. When searching for an apartment, be careful in comparing pros and cons so you can find one that best suits your wants and needs.
Renting a House
You might prefer finding a house to rent. Luckily, I have more advice to give on this subject as I moved into a house this year. Searching for houses and getting in touch with rental companies is the most stressful part of the process. My roommates and I wanted a five-bedroom house with enough off-street parking for our cars. Decently-priced houses with that many bedrooms are not very common, so we started our search in September of last year. We signed our lease in October, paid a deposit, took room measurements in May, and moved into the house in August of this year. It was a lengthy process, but we were lucky to find an accommodating house. We are leasing through Costley and Co. Management, and they have been very responsive and helpful.
I really enjoy living in a house because my best friends are just down the hall, we have a space to host our other friends, and we can furnish and decorate how we like. Another perk of having a house is eliminating noisy neighbors (unless your roommates are loud). It is really nice to have a personal bedroom when I want to be alone and also share a living room to be social.
Rent can be expensive, but Bloomington is just a very pricey place to live, so you have to take that into account during your search. My roommates and I pay five bills: rent, water, electric, gas, and Wi-Fi. Electric costs can get very high, especially with the A/C running, so be careful with your resources. Also keep in mind that utilities will fluctuate by month.
The freedom of living in a house comes with added responsibility. There are more chores and spaces to keep clean. Thankfully the property owner mows our yard, but my friends who live in another house are in charge of their landscaping. Your responsibilities and the management company or owner’s commitments are listed in the rental agreement. Make sure to go through this with a careful eye and inquire about anything that might be an issue. In our contract, my roommates and I overlooked that our rent will go up if we stay in the house a consecutive year. Everything is set and stone once you sign, so be aware of your contract agreements before putting down a signature.
Side Question: Will spring rush affect housing plans?
One concern I have heard from a few freshmen girls is what they should do about housing if they plan to rush Greek life in the spring. I am not in Greek life, but one friend of mine did have this problem her freshman year. She rushed and moved into a sorority house, but her backup plan was to rent an apartment with other girls who were also planning to rush. If you are on the fence about Greek life, I suggest finding a group of girls in the same boat. If some of you get into a sorority and a few decide not to join Greek life, then the remaining girls can find a place together.
Whether you are rushing or not, do not stress too much over solidifying housing plans. While it is recommended to find a place early to get first preference, this doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find someplace nice later in the semester. A friend of mine didn’t sign the lease to her house until January, and it is in a very prime location. There are also a plethora of apartment buildings looking to rent out rooms. Don’t worry; you’ll find a place.
Overall, continuing to live on campus keeps you close to classes while apartments offer more space with less hassle. Renting a house provides more freedom and responsibility. Other factors that might affect your search are number of roommates, work commute, or having a pet. No matter your situation, there is definitely a housing option out there to accommodate you.