Finding an off-campus apartment at college can be an overwhelming and often frustrating process. As a freshman, you probably enjoyed living in the dorms and building the camaraderie between you and your roommates and fellow dorm-mates, but now that you've moved on up in the ranks, it's time to shed your modest dorm room digs and upgrade to something a little more accommodating. So what is the best way to go about it, and how do you find the perfect off-campus place for you and your friends?
Well, depending on the size of the college you go to and what kind of city or town it's located in, finding an off-campus apartment at school can either be easy or very difficult. For schools that are located in or near big cities with an abundance of off-campus housing available for students, you may find that you have a much easier time securing a place to live. However, if you go to a school in a small town with not too many available housing options outside of the campus, then you might have to do a little bit of searching before you find the perfect place.
Either way, one of the best ways to find an off-campus apartment at college is by taking advantage of the wonders of social media. Just a decade ago, using social media to find off-campus housing wasn't an option for students, mostly because the concept didn't exist yet. But now that it does, you can use it to find just about anything, if you really know where to look and how to look for it.
Using school message boards
One of the best ways to use the Internet and social media to find off-campus housing at your college or university is by utilizing the message boards and forums available to students through the school's website. Often, a school will have a separate area of the site designated to off-campus housing and helping students procure a place to live off-campus. Many times, this section of the site will also have a message board where students can log in and coordinate with each other to find off-campus housing.
Students will either post that they're looking for off-campus housing or other students with an available room in their off-campus house may post that they're looking for an additional roommate to move in. Also, there may be a listing of available off-campus houses that can be rented by students. Either way, these message boards can be invaluable resources for students trying to find a suitable off-campus apartment to live in for the upcoming year.
Here's an example from a major university: the University of Connecticut has a page set up specifically to help students find off-campus housing. They provide a message board, as well as a helpful tool where students can narrow their search based on their budget for rent, how many bedrooms and bathrooms they're looking for, along with additional search options. The site also provides a listing of available off-campus housing with pictures.
Using Facebook, Twitter and other social media
Another great way to use social media to find off-campus housing at college is through the most popular social media outlets, Facebook and Twitter. Search Facebook to find the page for your college and see if there is any information from other students about available apartments in the area. Or, you can post a status about needing a place to live off-campus and see if anyone from your school's network can point you in the right direction.
Facebook is an excellent way to network with other students at your school, and a great resource for anyone looking for information and a solid tip on off-campus housing. While Twitter may not be as powerful as Facebook for this particular situation, you can still use it to your advantage to find other students from your school who may know where you can find some available off-campus housing.
Other useful Internet tools
Social media isn't the only way for you to find an off-campus apartment at your college or university. The Internet is full of resources for people who are apartment-hunting, and while you may only be looking for a temporary place to live while you attend school, regular real estate and apartment listing websites can still come in handy and will provide you with the same kind of information you'd likely find from other, more school-oriented sources.
Websites like Craigslist are often overlooked, but they are extremely useful ways for college students to find places to live off-campus. Searching them can uncover a lot of hidden gems and great deals for students, just make sure to always be careful when using sites such as those and to gather as much information as you can before you make a decision.
Here are some of the more popular websites that you can use to search for an apartment:
- Craigslist - Craigslist is an excellent resource to begin your apartment search and you can narrow your search down to just about any city in America to look for apartments that are for rent. But while this website is sure to contain hundreds of listings for you to browse through, you should always practice caution when using Craigslist, as it's held to the same standards as professional real estate websites and users may fall victim to scams if they are not careful. Always make sure to directly contact the person who posted a listing either by phone or email to ask any questions and inquire about the listing and never send any money without first seeing the apartment and meeting with the landlord or apartment owner.
- Apartment Guide - This website is a great resource for anyone looking for a new apartment and you can search for apartments by city, by zip code, by neighborhood and even by the name of your college if you're a student and you're looking for an apartment near your school. Like most apartment searching websites that are available on the Internet, Apartment Guide also has an app for iPhones and iPads so you can browse apartment listings wherever you are.
- Apartments.com - Much like Apartment Guide, this website allows you to search for available apartments in any area that you want, with mobile apps as well. The added bonus with Apartments.com is that you can also browse reviews for listings in the area that you're looking at so you can see what other people have to say about the neighborhood or city. The website also provides renters with tips and advice.