Chances are you've gone through all of this before – registering for classes, walking down to the campus bookstore and buying the books that you need for the new semester, watching in despair as the cashier rings up the expensive books and the total price reaches into the hundreds, searching for the perfect off-campus housing situation. As a graduate student, it's likely that you've done all of this before -- as an undergraduate student -- and although it was probably a lot newer and more confusing back then when you didn't really know the lay of the land, it still doesn't get much easier as a grad student.
Whether or not you expected to be back in school after graduation pursuing your graduate degree, the truth is that you're going to need to find a place to live and your living situation can play a big role in dictating what your year is like. Of course, location is probably the most important factor in searching for housing as a graduate student. You want to find a place that is close enough to campus where you'll be able to easily commute to and from your classes and the campus library when you need to put in several hours of quiet study time. You'll also want a place that is far enough away from campus that you won't be bothered by the distractions of campus life. Basically, you'll need to find that happy medium where you can continue to be a part of the college atmosphere, while also being able to take a step back and focus on your studies.
To find this magical place that lies somewhere between undergraduate campus debauchery and grown-up grad school tranquility, you'll have to search high and low. Luckily, you should have several great resources at your fingertips, thanks to the magic of the internet. This guide will provide you with a few tips on how to find the right kind of housing for grad school and the best places where you can look to find the perfect graduate housing.
The first place you should check for grad school housing should be your school's website. Most colleges and universities provide an abundance of links and helpful resources on their website for graduate students in need of housing. Some schools offer on-campus graduate housing for grad school students, while other schools offer only off-campus housing. Also, the kind of housing ranges from dorm-style units to larger apartment-style housing complexes and even units that resemble small condos. Again, the types of housing options available at the school you'll be attending will largely vary depending on several factors, but this is the best place to start your search.
Visit your school's website and search for the section of the site that contains information for the university's graduate school with information and helpful resources for grad students. This is where you'll likely find a series of links directing students to a list of available graduate apartments, along with information on how to apply for one of the apartments and what you need to know about the apartment application process.
Another great resource for finding a place to live as a grad student is Craigslist. Craigslist is basically just the internet's version of a classified ads page and you'll be able to find just about anything you need through this website, like an extra lamp or a coffee table for your apartment, or even an apartment itself. Find the city where your school is located and browse the apartment listings on the site, but make sure that you browse with caution and always conduct your own thorough research if you find something that interests you, which includes contacting the person who made the listing.
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.
Fellow students and social media
If you can't find anything that interests you on Craigslist and the graduate housing that the university offers isn't quite what you had in mind, there are still plenty of ways in which you can find the perfect place to call home while at grad school. Every day that you're on campus, you'll be in contact with perhaps your best resource for finding suitable graduate housing: your fellow classmates. Although you'll likely need to secure housing well before you step foot on campus on that first day of classes, there are still plenty of ways for you to contact fellow classmates to get an idea of where they are living and also see what is available in the area for you.
Some of the best ways to reach out to fellow grad students, besides being on campus and checking local cafes, dining halls and libraries for postings about available apartments or graduate housing, are going online and browsing some school message boards and forums. Your university may even have a message board devoted entirely to graduate housing, so be sure to search for that. You can also connect with fellow students through social media like Twitter and Facebook, which are invaluable tools for grad students.