Moving and need advice

I’ve never moved before or lived on my own and now is the time. I have to move in with roommates, and don’t know anyone I can live with in the new city. I’m also not certain as to what kind of place I should be looking for. Because I’m foreseeing I won’t have a lot of time, I’m hoping for something close and convenient to the school I will be attending. I guess I’m just looking for any advice you can give me on both choosing a good place to live and people to live with. I have a lot of choices: furnished, unfurnished, house, apartment, car, no car, etc. all made more difficult by the fact that I will be coming home every summer. So, basically, any advice is appreciated. Anything you wished you had known before you embarked on your move? Thanks.

How old are you, and what level of school are you going to? When I went to grad school I had lived in a dorm for four years, and was in a situation like you. I had a car, but I had never visited the place I was moving to. I lived in a grad dorm for a year, and it worked out fine. I had a meal plan, I made plenty of friends, and I had plenty of time to find an apartment for the summer and beyond without feeling pressured.

If you’re just starting college you should seriously consider on-campus student housing instead of an apartment. You’ll meet a ton of people and have much easier access to the resources schools have for new students. Give it a year and you’ll probably have an easy time finding someone to share an apartment with next year. Plus you’ll know the area better which helps with choosing an apartment.

I already have a degree and am a bit older attending a professional program. I would love to live in res, but unfortunately I am unable to get a spot unless someone moves out (they reserve spots for first year students only). Although there are probably going to be vacancies in res, I’m concerned about waiting until right before school starts for a place to open up! Hence, living with someone is a likely must.

You school might have an off-campus student housing office which can point you towards neighbourhoods, rental listings, etc, as well as provide you with legal information. It’s really important to know your rights as a tenant in your state as well as any local/municipal by-laws that might have a significant effect on renting in the town you’re looking at. Look into that service, or at the least look into your state/province’s Department/Bureau/other government organization in charge of housing and rental law.

I don’t have any advice about picking roommates other than to make sure that certain ground rules are clear once you have some; responsibilities with regards to housekeeping (dishes, garbage, vacuuming etc), house guests (no one likes the girl/boy friend who mooches constantly and never fucking leaves), acceptable sound levels/partying or quiet hours, pets (no one likes the roommate that unexpectedly shows up with a puppy), division of bills such as TV/internet/electricity/water/other, etc. Treat the arrangement like a business venture first, and then you can become friends if you want.

Establish a budget and look around to see what’s available in your area for that price, and then start narrowing down your options. Parking spots might be extra, so keep that in mind when you look. Look at transit options, determine the cost of a parking permit at your school, evaluate your ability/likelihood to walk or bike everywhere, etc. This will help you establish the areas you’re willing to live in. Visit a lot of places of all types and see what’s out there.

What I did when I started grad school in the US was stay in an on-campus apartment for a few months. That way, I was able to get a feel for the area in person before deciding to move out. This was in 1994: now, I would be able to find area prices via internet, but that still wouldn’t give me the same kind of information you get by walking around.

If the school you’re going to doesn’t have resources to help you find roomates or an apartment, try Craigslist.

Thanks for the advice! The place I am moving to is quite far and lots of students have already put places up for grabs. How important would it be to visit the city I am moving to? I know it’s not ideal, but because I live so far away,it would cost me quite a bit in terms of staying in a hotel and a plane ticket. Also, new places are available every day making it impossible for me to see all the places I might be interested in during one trip.

The off campus housing section is great, though it is just a place for people to put up ad’s and not much else (ie: these people aren’t screened by the University or anything like that). People in the program have also advertised looking for roommates–right now I’m hoping that’s a good screening tool! I like what you did Nava. It sounds like a great idea. I might be able to find a 4 month lease somewhere and then move to res for the next 4, which would give me plenty of time to get a feel for the different places out there.

If anyone has any more suggestions, I would love to hear them! Thanks so much. I feel a little bit less stressed out about the whole process.