Housing is one of the many important decisions you will need to make before starting your studies. Few environmental elements have greater potential to enhance or handicap your experiences. Consequently, housing decision requires adequate planning and clear understanding of what kind of living environment best suits your needs.
Many students say that if they could have done it all over again, they would begin their apartment searches and make their housing commitments earlier.
For some students, the idea of living in the fortress-like Quadrangle requires all the bravery they can muster.
For others, the enticement of life out of the dorms is enough to coax them out of the hands of University-provided security and into the wily world of off-campus housing.
You should check your school’s website or contact your school directly in order to get more info about the different alternatives of on-campus housing.
In some cases, every MBA student is allowed to rent an apartment, in other cases, you’ll have to sign for a lottery.
But before you make all of these, check that the cost and quality of on-campus housing is as good as the off-campus alternatives.
There are several different approaches to the apartment hunting:
- Looking for “for rent” signs:
The “for rent” signs seem abundant in just about every neighborhood and on every street. Unfortunately, you could spend all day walking up to every sign you see only to find that it doesn’t have enough bedrooms, is too small, too expensive, etc. Then, if you actually call the number and the person happens to be nearby and willing to show the place immediately (almost never happens) often the apartment is not what you want. I would only recommend this approach if you care much more about where you are living than anything else – in other words, you are prepared to take whatever’s available in a location with price, condition, amenities, and comfort as minor considerations. I won’t argue that some apartments have signs and no other advertising and that they may be the really hidden treasures, but if you’re from out of town you might as well give up on the hidden treasures up front unless you have an inside track or hope to get really lucky! Not to say that you shouldn’t try this approach, that luck might come your way.
- Local Newspapers:
This is an excellent but pretty intimidating option. Most of us are unaccustomed to big towns as large as Chicago, New York, Boston etc’ (easier in smaller towns). We might find it a bit overwhelming by the number of listings. Sorting through them is quite a job,job; I would encourage anyone to use the online version to get a head start. However, the listings are good and you can line up appointments to see places that meet your basic criteria fairly quickly.
- Apartment-finding services:
This is also a very common option, which many recommend. There are a number of places you can go, just walk in, and ask for an appointment with an agent. After a 10-minute consultation the agent will probably hand you a list of 4-5 properties and keys to all of them, the agent drives you around in his or her car.
In general, the apartment-finding services are good. However, I will say that it seemed like they had a lot of less desirable properties and when they have a good one they showed it to everyone. The agents talk to each other so certain properties get “hot” by word of mouth. So if you see something you like with a service don’t be shy about locking it up for yourself, that day or the next.