Helpful Hints: Hacks to finding a place to live, what to look for when renting

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The Jardine Apartments parking lot. (File photo by Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

For many students, college is the first time they are given free rein of the decisions they make. A lot of these decisions are not as simple as deciding what to eat for dinner. Choosing the right housing is a big part of learning how to be an independent adult — and it can be a tough and confusing process. These tips might help ease the frustration when it comes to signing a lease or finding a place to live.

When you’re looking:

Finding a place to live is not a simple as it might seem. Often times there are a lot of loops to jump through, and you will have to compromise. This list provides some tools to use when searching for your next rental.

1. The Internet.

Google should be your first move. There are a multitude of websites out there that provide a way to sift through the available housing in a specific area. Not only are you able to sort by number of bedrooms and bathrooms, lease term and locations, but you are also able to look through the reviews for a particular landlord.

2. Drive around

My roommate and I found our apartment by seeing it as we drove down a street. We thought it looked nice and the location was perfect, so we did some research on the landlord and now we’ve found the perfect place for us. If Google isn’t giving you the options you want, you might need to take the search outside — literally — and take a stroll around the areas you’re interested in living in.

3. Ask around

You’re totally stumped — you can’t seem to find a place that matches your needs. You have another option: just ask. Chances are, someone will know of a good company, a good landlord or a few friends in need of a roommate.

Before you sign:

You’ve found the place you want to live — everything feels just right. But the search is not over until you are locked into a lease. Be sure you take some precautionary steps prior to signing anything. Here are a few tips.

1. Read the reviews.

Before you make any big decision, it’s always good to get some outside input. Sometimes, there will be helpful reviews posted online that might sway your decision one way or another. Be careful, though, not every review can be trusted — whether they are good or bad. Look for problems that seem to come up in the comments often and question your landlord about them.

2. Walk through the unit.

If you’re looking at houses, you’ll probably be taken on a tour. When you do this, take your own photos for reference. Make note of things that seem off — broken appliances and the general upkeep of the unit. Ask questions. All of this information will be helpful when deciding whether or not you chose to rent there. If you’re looking at apartments, the same rules apply. If possible, ask to see the unit you may end up living in. You can also ask tenants currently living in the complex about their experience.

3. Get help.

If you still don’t feel entirely confident about your decision, reach out. Kansas State has an office for off-campus housing that can help answer any questions you might have and can also help you review your lease. You can also talk to friends or family who have been in the same situation for some clarity.

Signing a lease is a big deal — and you should make sure you are checking all the boxes when it comes time. While this list is not entirely exhaustive, some of these tips might help you get to a more comfortable position the next time you decide to rent.

Julie Freijat is the Collegian’s copy chief and a sophomore in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and the persons interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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Hi there! I'm Julie Freijat and I'm a copy chief and an assistant news editor for the Collegian. I love science and technology, hate poor movie dialogue and my favorite subreddit is r/truecrime.