Guest Blogger: Prakrity Silwal

10 Things to Remember When Finding Off-Campus Housing

The guest blogger, Prakrity Silwal, is a second year graduate student in the School of Social Work at Boston College. She completed her undergraduate degree at Ohio Wesleyan University, majoring in in Sociology and Anthropology. She also earned a Masters in Public Health (MPH) at University of Connecticut. Parkrity is currently a Graduate Assistant for Diversity Resources at the BC Career Center and a Graduate Assistant to the Director in Women’s and Gender Studies Program. In the summer months she works as an International Housing Assistant for Off-Campus Housing in the Office of Residential Life. Prakrity is very passionate about working in the non-profit world, serving the disadvantaged, especially children, women, and families to help them have good health, access to health care and better quality of life. She is a firm supporter of justice and women empowerment. In her (albeit limited) spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, cooking, running, and networking! 

(1) Remember to create a budget- Find out the average for your city and decide if that apartment is really worth it. Know what is included in the monthly rent and check everything you can from the landlord or property manager. Remember to also budget for utilities, household supplies and transportation costs!

(2) Research your neighborhoods- Location is a key thing to remember when finding housing. It’s not just convenience that is the important factor but also noise and safety. For instance, you can decide for yourself if you would rather have your apartment near bars and clubs or in a quiet area where you can study.

(3) Conduct your search by going to- BC has now made it really convenient for students to go to their housing website and be able to search for roommates and housing. I have used this webpage myself and found it really easy to navigate and you have the option to filter your search by price, location, and distance among many other options. So this webpage would be a great place to start your search!

(4) Find roommates- remember to use the awesome Roommate Finder feature under the tab Roommates on the off campus housing website. I was able to set up my own profile here in order to find a suitable roommate and the best part is that you can pick your criteria in terms of what you are looking for in a roommate. For example, you can choose to live with another international student or somebody from your country who is an undergraduate or a graduate student!

(5) Don’t forget to review the lease terms thoroughly- it is very easy to skip details that are on your lease. I am saying this through my own personal experience when I forgot to check the terms for subletting an apartment and had to pay large amount of fees later. If I were you I would make sure to go over the lease in detail so that there are no loose ends!!!

(6) Check what utilities are- In most apartments, utilities such as water and garbage collection are included into the rent. Heat, or natural gas, is also often included, although some landlords ask the renter to take on this cost as well. Electricity is almost always the responsibility of the renters, as are the somewhat optional utilities such as cable TV, phone service, and Internet access. If you are living with a roommate you can choose to split utilities. It's important to look carefully at all these things.

(7) Check the property- Before signing any lease, make sure you have thoroughly checked everything in the property such as outlets, signs of insect or rodent infestation, smoke detectors, windows and doors, fire escape plan, leaks, and functionality of equipment. When you move into a new place and things aren't in proper order, your landlord is responsible for fixing them. Make sure you document any existing damage before moving in.

(8) Talking to previous tenants- sometimes talking to previous tenants who lived in the apartment can be extremely helpful. You might find out things about the apartment that you normally wouldn’t such as noisy neighbors, landlord with a bad personality, commuting options and other factors that could help you decide if you really want the apartment or not.

(9) Check all your stuff to decide what to take to the new apartment- sometimes you might have this overwhelming desire to take everything that you think you need to your new apartment. Again, based on my own personal experience there is no point taking things that you will not need or use in your new apartment if you have limited space.

(10) Know your rights as a tenant- you have rights as a tenant and they are all summarized in a handbook called Tenants’ Rights. You can do a search by state on the web and find a pdf file on this handbook. It lays out what your landlord can and can’t do and if there is a problem that arises, the handbook tells you what to do….can it get any better than that?

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