Student house-hunting woes

University students who are considering living off campus next year should get a head start in looking for accommodations.

”We advise them to start looking now for the fall,” says Sherri Slate, an employee at the Off Campus Living department at Dalhousie University.

“It gives students an opportunity to see the places that they will be living in the fall and view them rather than them trying to do it long distance when travel may be an issue and they may not be able to see the property in person.”

Lauren Dckht, a Dalhousie student, says she found her sublet on Kijiji and is enjoying it.

“It is lovely,” says Dckht. “You can cook what you want, have your own space. But you have to make an effort to see friends but in turn it’s nice to live in a quieter environment.”

Slate says the safety of the accommodations should be priority. Students should make sure the property is well maintained, has good lighting inside and out and all doors lock properly.

Residence life can be more convenient, Slate says.

“You are right there on cam- pus, you don’t have to do your cooking because it is a part of your meal plan … there is a real sense of fellowship that you build when you live in residence.”

But living off-campus has benefits, including more independence than students who live in residence.

“They need to suddenly start thinking about things like putting the garbage out, shoveling the walkway and just things that they haven’t had to think about for the last eight months,” says Slate.

So with that greater degree of independence, also comes with a greater degree of responsibility.”

Dckht says while looking for roommates to make sure they are on the same page as you are and that you will get along.

“I lived with a mixture of friends and coworkers who then become my friends,” says Dckht. “It can make it or break your first off campus living experience, so make sure you are on the same page about cleanliness or who takes out the garbage.”

Living off campus, students on average pay around $450 to $500 a month for rent, not including the cost of food, furniture and hopefully some spending money.

Melissa MacKay, who is the student life associate director at Dalhousie, says living off campus can sometimes be better money-wise.

“Look early, because you don’t want to live in a place for a year that you hate,” says Lauren Dckht.

“It can be more affordable option for some students to live off campus or at home with their families,” says MacKay.

Looking at the Dalhousie residence choices, students can be paying from $4,550 to $8,315 during the academic year, plus a mean plan, which is about an added $3,500.

Slate also suggests students make sure they are aware of their lease and understand them before signing.

“Often students are going to be asked for a 12 month lease as opposed to a eight month lease that they have in residence,” says Slate.

“They just need to know the term of their lease and to see if they can sublet during the summer if they are not going to be here in the city.”

Isaac Grey is the student life administrator at Dalhousie and promotes Dal After Dark, which hosts programs for students who live on and off campus.

He says students who are concerned about getting involved while off campus should start looking into societies and programs.

“Dal After Dark runs programs Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and we do about five events per weekend,” he said.

“We have everything from snowshoeing to board games and crafts.”

Off campus, Slate says, students can feel as if they lose out on the social life of residence.

Grey suggests that students should build up connections so when they leave campus they don’t feel so lonely.

“My advice would be to … try to stay in contact with people that you have met,” says Grey.

“And also just build on your interest, so for example if you are interested in playing chess there is probably a society in that.”

“Look around,” says Dckht. “It’s fun to see different places. Look early, because you don’t want to live in a place for a year that you hate only because you left it to the last minute. Pick what is also going to be the best for you. Like to run? Maybe get a place near Point Pleasant.”