Types of Housing
Searching for off-campus housing is not as simple as it first appears. One of the areas where the search gets more complicated is figuring out what kind of housing you are searching for. To make this a little bit easier, we've broken things down into five kinds of housing you'll encounter.
Apartments: Apartments seems pretty straight forward, but there are really three things that someone can mean when they are renting an apartment:
(1) Apartment in an Apartment Complex. This is your classic apartment. The entire building is usual owned and managed by one person. Benefits of this kind of housing are that your landlord or management company can help you navigate conflicts with your neighbors. Also often heat and hot water are included in your rent. Drawbacks are that rent is a lot less negotiable, since the management company or landlord is used to renting out a bunch of apartments.
(2) Apartment in a Condominium Complex. At first this might seem the same as the option above, however there are some important differences. Condos are owned by individuals. This means that your neighbor's landlord, probably isn't yours. Pros of this are that you might have more ability to negotiate your rent. Also you'll have an opportunity to build a more personal relationship with your landlord. They'll care more about your unit and are likely to respond to repair requests well. Cons are that your landlord has no say in what your neighbors do. You'll also probably have to abide by a set of condo association rules, including living standards like quiet hours and guest rules.
(3) Apartment in a House. This one sounds like "apartment" but looks like "house." Often these apartments were once homes that have been renovated to have more than one unit. Positive aspects of this kind of housing is that you might be able to get some more homey amenities, like a desk or a lawn. Negatives are that you'll likely have to pitch in for heat and hot water. Also these homes are often older than apartments and can be a bit rundown, if they haven't received TLC in a while.
Houses: This one is exactly what is sounds like. A full house that isn't split up and is all yours. The positives are fairly self-explanatory, you don't have neighbors in close quarters, space, grass. However there are some draw back you might not be aware of. For example you may be responsible for lawn care and snow removal.
Room in a Home: In this situation, you'd just be renting a room in a home. What this means varies a lot case by case. In each case, you are basically living with your landlord. Sometimes you have a right to your room, a bathroom and pretty much the direct path that you could take to get to those two places. In other cases you live as more of a roommate with your landlord, who shares their home with you. If you are considering a room in a home option, be sure to clearly cover what your privileges will be and what your landlord's expectations of you are BEFORE you sign anything.