Where am I living next year?

(Photo by Jody Waardenburg)
(Photo by Jody Waardenburg)

There aren’t many things in student life more terrifying than looking for a place to live.

After the parent-funded first year on-campus residence experience, it is easy to think that the rest of your university dwellings will come just as hassle free.  Well, hate to say it, but it’s not.

Finding an off campus place to live for second year and beyond can be quite stressful. This includes your nerve-wrecked parents, eager and sometimes pushy landlords and, of course, your timid and inquisitive self.

“There are some things you just don’t expect,” third-year Laurier student Julian Staniewski claimed. He set out after first year residence eager to find his own place to live off-campus but ran into a few problems along the way.

“We all wanted the biggest room, obviously, and having to deal with the exclusive renters can be a nightmare,” stated Staniewski.

In Staniewski’s case, he had to find a new place to live each year due to roommate changes, faulty appliances and a silverfish infestation but most students are first-time house hunters.

As a newcomer to the student housing hunt, you can easily get caught up in a smorgasbord of showings, landlords and contract negotiations that can result in either the perfect house or a real fixer-upper.

However, there are those who luck out with apartment hunting. Third year student Chris Hadley almost immediately found his dream home for the upper years.

“As soon as I set foot inside, I knew it was home,” claimed Hadley. “Finding it was a breeze and sure, it needed a little redecorating but it was nothing the semesterly poster sale couldn’t fix.”

If you want to succeed, you’ve got to be savvy and smart. Living in a student house is a great way to gain independence and explore the world outside Laurier’s tiny campus.  So just as a little headstart, here are some tips and tricks to finding the best off-campus housing in Waterloo.

Start Your Search Early
There is nothing worse finally getting the courage to look for a house and finding out that all the good ones have been scooped up.  Starting your search for a house should happen around January for February and ideally, your lease should be signed by early March.

“We lucked out big time because we started looking right when we came back from Winter break. You’re never too cool to start browsing around,” advised third-year student Alex Payne.

Always Visit the House
“I remember sprinting to catch the GRT just so that I could see the house for myself even though all my potential roommates had already seen it,” Jamie Hawkins recalled. “You just got to do it.”

Even if you are dead exhausted and have been searching for weeks, inspecting your tentative home is an absolute must. Without frequently viewing a house, you will have no idea what you are getting yourself into and miss out on better opportunities for yourself.

Inquire About the Rent
Make sure you are always 100 per cent clear on this when you sign the small print heavy contract. Every single house here in Waterloo comes with different terms and conditions and you have to find the one that suits your budget.

“Trust me, you are going to want to ask every single detail about what rent covers. The worst is sitting down at your laptop after setting up your new room and realizing you have no internet,” Brad Meneses, a third year student, said.

Make sure you know whether your property comes with gas, electric, water, internet and all other utilities. Beware of the “all bills included” tagline. Make sure to ask the hard questions, no matter how uncomfortable you may feel.

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