Well, it happened already.
No, I’m not talking about Christmas music playing at the mall, or that first winter snowfall. I’m talking about the day we in Off-Campus Student Services first get contacted by students who are thinking about living off campus in the next year and are looking for more information. This year that day has already come and gone.
We love proactive students taking the initiative to make informed decisions about where to live. We offer a number of opportunities for students to take part in renter education. We have our annual Renter’s Ed student panel where students who currently rent in the neighborhood share their experiences and offer some advice to their peers about the search; this year that will take place at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, in Room 126, John R. Roach Center for the Liberal Arts.
There is also the Student Tenant Education Program, a more intensive tenant education with much greater detail. We’re working with area landlords to offer security deposit discounts to students who take part in this program, which will happen at the end of April.
But, if you are a student who is getting a bit antsy and wants to start thinking about things now, there are a number of simple tips we’d offer:
- Slow down. There is absolutely no rush; we have an abundance of rental properties in our community. (New ones are being posted every day to our housing listing site.) Plus, you should consider on-campus housing, too, and Residence Life’s process happens in the spring.
- Don’t compare apples and oranges. Some people assume living off campus is cheaper than living on, but there are a lot more costs connected to living off campus than simply rent. Be sure to look at utilities and other expenses, as well as some of the pieces that are hard to put a dollar value on such as security, proximity to campus, cleaning and other services.
- Remember, don’t sign too soon. A lease is legally binding, and when you sign a lease, you’re committed, and there is very little ability to get out of it.
- Get information. Even though we have the formal programs set up for next semester, we’re happy to help now. Contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to schedule a time to talk with you and your roommates. You also can stop by Off-Campus Student Services (ASC 253) to pick up our Renter’s Resources guide, which has a ton of great information.
- Know the rules. Things like St. Paul’s over-occupancy ordinance (which prohibits more than four unrelated individuals from sharing a single unit), the social host ordinance, and the new student housing registration zone can have big impacts on students living off campus. And remember, though some people think they can avoid the rules by moving off campus, the UST Code of Conduct applies off campus as well as on.
- Make a list and check it twice. You and your potential roommates should sit down and talk about what is important to each of you and know what you’re willing to compromise on or not.
Whether you decide to live off campus or on, it’s a big decision, and we’re more than happy to help you with that process.