Know your preferences before you search

Kyle Peterson

Editor’s Note: This story was initially published on March 2, 2009.

Although next year may seem an eternity away, now is the time to consider your living situation for the 2009-2010 school year. With a huge student population constantly on the move, leases are signed early and apartment buildings fill up fast. So how should students begin their search for new living quarters?

“Before they even go looking they should make a list of what they want,” said Jen Sanford, office manager at Campustown Property Management. Knowing what you’re looking for may be half the battle. Here are some items to consider:

Location and transportation: Whether the apartment makes getting to campus easy for students is a huge factor. That means walking distance to either campus or CyRide.

Amenities: Todd Petersen, manager of Jensen Property Management, said a washer and dryer in the apartment, or multiple baths can be a big deciding factor for most students. And does the apartment offer extras, like a pool or gym membership?

Roommates: From a one bedroom to a five bedroom, there are a range of living situations. Think about which is for you. Sanford said living with a huge group of people can be a blast, but “you’ve also got to realize the commitment you’re making to live with that amount of friends.”

Study environment: Being far from campus and living with multiple friends can be a huge distraction. Sanford said she has heard many stories where “people move off campus and then never go to class.” Think about whether you could still be a good student before moving in.

Management company: Petersen placed an emphasis on “getting a good, reputable company.” Talk to other students and renters in Ames, and find a company that is responsible and student friendly.

Financial considerations: Students need to consider their financial situation, Sanford said, and “be honest with themselves about what they can afford.” And make sure you take into account the total package. Some apartments have free utilities — which means others may seem cheap by comparison, because they bill you for these items later.

Furnishings: Although most apartments in Ames are unfurnished, there are furnished options available, and if you don’t currently own a bed or couch, this might be something you’d prefer. Not having to lug furniture up stairs “also makes move in and out a lot easier,” said Sanford.