If you are lost on how to find off-campus housing, look no further. Here is a rundown of the best ways to get started, from when to begin looking to signing the lease.
First, start early. Alex Soto, a junior accounting major, encourages starting even as early as freshman year. This type of a head start allows you to know what you are looking for and gives you a basic understanding of the housing market in Spokane.
“If you start doing research early, it won’t be as stressful when it’s time to move off-campus,” Soto said.
Gonzaga University has resources for moving off campus that are updated frequently. GU's off-campus housing website features apartment and house listings for long and short-term accommodations that are specifically for students. The website specifies number of beds and baths, location, price, the landlord’s contact information and extra information provided with the listing.
Junior Jasmine Fisher has lived in GU owned off-campus housing and is moving to non-GU housing next year.
“Their website is great because it answers all the initial questions you might have,” Fisher said.
The GU Housing, Sublets & Roommates Facebook page is another great place to look. Junior Alex Schmidt found their housing this way, and used the page to compile a list of places they were interested in. If both sites don't work for you, apartments.com and Zillow are great resources, but may be harder to find places for students.
Next, make sure you get organized in your quest for housing.
“Don’t plan on being in your number one house unless you have a solid group, the security deposit ready, the parents ready to cosign, all of that,” Schmidt said. “If you don’t have everything in order, it can be a train wreck.”
Schmidt made a list of potential places they could live in, then talked with a few people to form a group. After the list and housing group was finalized, they started calling around and going on walkthroughs. This ensured all details were accounted for when the time came to sign the lease, and made finding housing a lot less stressful.
Finding a group you want to live with is an important step.
“Knowing who you want to live with is key to starting early,” Fisher said.
People switch in and out of housing groups frequently and that should be expected, but having a general idea of who you want to live with is a good start to finding housing. Once the group is finalized, it is easier to handle security deposits and signing leases.
Then, figure out what you need in a house. Having a basic understanding of the utilities you need as a college student will help narrow the final list down.
“Make a good list of what you really need versus what you want,” Soto said.
While having a big backyard might seem ideal, Wi-Fi to do homework would be more necessary as a college student. Having an idea of what is necessary versus what is desired will help you in finding the best house for your needs.
Talking to upperclassmen living off-campus can give you a better idea of how to approach finding off-campus housing for your specific situation. Fisher said the best thing she did was find out what other people did to find their house, and then used that advice in her own quest.
Talking to upperclassmen also allows you to hear about their experiences with a specific house, landlord or living situation. If you realize you like their house or want something similar to what they described, use that when looking for your housing or ask them for suggestions.
Once you have found a house you like, make sure to see it in different environments.
“Go during the day with a group of friends to see how it’s going to be and then drive by at night to make sure you feel safe,” Soto said.
Talk to neighbors or people who live in the area to hear about their experiences. You want to feel safe wherever you end up living, and an area that is pretty during the day may not be as nice at night.
At the end of the day, the most important thing when looking for housing is to be organized. Keep an updated list of where you want to live, the price, utilities and other information you may need so when the time to sign comes, you are ready.
“If you are quick enough to sign a lease and put down your deposit, then you shouldn’t have a problem,” Schmidt said.