The end of the semester is near. After spending a year living in a room the size of a microwave or in an apartment surrounded by neighbors throwing dance parties every Monday night, it’s no mystery why many students seek the autonomy of off-campus housing. However, while living in a house with your closest friends can be a hoot and a holler, the quest for that house is no cakewalk. Here are a few tips from someone who’s seen what works and what doesn’t.
To quote Peter Parker when he was looking for a house with his friends in his college years, “With great housing comes great responsibility.”
You and your friend get along great. You hang out on weekends, have fun at parties together and, for this reason, you’ll be perfect roommates, right? Wrong.
Sometimes the closest friends can become mortal enemies when they move in together. While you may have a great time with your friend when the two of you go out on Saturday night, they might not be the person you want to be around when you’re trying to study on Monday morning.
While cleanliness, noisiness and sleeping habits are all qualities to pay attention to when you choose your housemates, they can be worked out. The friends you want to live with are those you can still enjoy being around without having to do something fun and exciting.
Skipping class is more enticing when it’s a 20-minute drive away instead of a five-minute walk. Houses generally get less expensive the farther away you get from campus, but take into account the $135 parking permit. From someone who’s lived in Pacific Beach and in on-campus housing, you’ll probably have more fun in PB. But it will most likely be at the expense of your GPA.
Also keep in mind, living anywhere west of 54th Street on Montezuma Road will require you to climb a hill more daunting than Mount Doom.
The landlord and neighbors
Aside from roommates, your landlord and neighbors are two major externalities you should concern yourself with, as far as people go. They’ll determine how clean you must keep the house, how loud you can be on the weekends or how quickly your toilet will get fixed after unexpectedly erupting in fury.
Having a friendly relationship with both is key. I know a group of close friends who once got a free trip to Big Bear because they had a good relationship with their landlord.
Introduce yourself to your neighbors and be wary of overbearing landlords. One way to identify the latter is to pay attention to the behavior of the current tenants. Speak to the people living in the prospective house, preferably without the landlord present. They could have had the option to live there again, but instead they’re dying to escape.
Finally, be proactive. The early bird gets the house with the hot tub. You don’t want to neglect looking until it’s too late, because then you’ll be stuck in the residence halls for another year.
— Hutton Marshall is an interdisciplinary studies junior.