At the University of Rochester, you are required to live on campus for the first two years of your college life. However, if you are a rising junior or senior, you have a choice to live off campus. There are many options as to where you can live and how you can find off-campus housing. But the process can be daunting and a bit intimidating, especially for a college student living alone for the first time. Trust me—I was lost, too, but fortunately I had my friends and resources around me to make living off-campus an easy process.
Weigh the pros and cons
The first important step before doing anything is figuring out whether you really want to live off campus or not. Sure, living off campus with your friends sounds fun: no more public bathrooms, no more loud next-door neighbors (and I mean, literally next door), and most importantly, you get your own room. But living off campus also has its downsides: you are farther away from campus and its services, and you are solely responsible for the cleanliness and safety of your surroundings. Money is also a huge aspect of living alone, and before deciding to live off campus, talk with your financial aid counselor about how living off campus may impact your financial aid package. Think practically and strategically about which living situation works most in your favor.
Find a renter
So once you have thought about everything and decided to live off campus, the next step is finding a realtor. The University of Rochester offers Off Campus Connection, which lets you safely search for local listings and property owners around the City of Rochester. That’s how my friend found the current renter for our house next year, and the school has been a big help in that regard. Other options can be posting on your class page on Facebook to ask for other students’ opinions on which property and renter is good. You can even shoot me an email!
Tour a few places
Once you find the renter, the process is just like looking for a house or an apartment in any situation. You select a few property options that you would like to see, and the realtor or the renter shows you in-person what the property looks like. Make sure to ask a lot of questions when touring the house or the apartment, and if there are people currently living in that property, ask when they will be moving out, etc. Consider bus schedules and the distance from the main campus. After you select the property you like, sit down with the realtor or the renter for a contract. The contract really depends on your personal living situation, but there’s one thing I cannot stress enough—if you are confused about anything, ask questions! This isn’t a school project or an assignment you can just halfheartedly do; renting a house involves real money, real people, and real responsibility. Don’t take it lightly, and think seriously before committing yourself to anything.
Maybe that previous sentence was kind of scary and now you are rethinking about living off-campus. It is a lot of responsibility and you might think it’s too much. But for me, having that amount of responsibility and the opportunity to deal with real “adult-like” problems made me more mature and taught me many lessons. Renting a property and living on your own is something that you will probably have to do someday, so don’t be scared. If you think it’s the best option for you, just do it!