Housing issues for Incoming Students in the States- 15 tips to actually crack this nut open (or almost)!

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Planning to move to United States for further education?
Got accepted at the University that you wanted so badly?
All your bags are (almost) packed, but don’t know where to head from the airport?
I had similar wary about a year ago. Where to go, what to do and how to do it?
I had been accepted at the University of Washington, Seattle, and Seattle, as some of you might have noted, is on a verge of housing crisis. The boom of Amazon and Microsoft has been more than the city can actually handle. The city is seeing highest rates of immigrants, new settlers both domestic and international. Market prices of housing complexes, apartment have surpassed all previous records.
And of course, the internet can be intimidating, if we don’t know where to look and what too look for. I had a trouble struggling for the first few months until I finally was able to set a firm ground myself.
I have hence come up with some suggestions/tips that could come handy:
1. It is highly contextual. Depends on the city and university you are planning to attend.
2. Some universities have dormitories specially designated for international students. This for some might be the best and cheapest option.
3. Housing options within some campuses also contrarily be very expensive, as compared to off campus, again depending upon the city and university.
4. Here, for University of Washington, Seattle. housing costs are almost similar, in and off campus.
5. There is however a long lag time behind university housing application and actually getting one.
6. Issues for people with families, children or disabilities can be different. It also depends upon their plans to bring in dependents, how soon and for how long.
7. Best foolproof trick is to discover resources, seek for connections. Find people studying or those who went to the same university even decades back. Remember any information is good information.
8. Online Resources
  • Start your search with the university website for housing, then move onto blogs of students on condition of housing and Cragslist also helps.
  • Craigslist is an app as well as website which shows all apartments or places available for lease around your preference area.
  • I also tried looking at students Youtube videos. Students actually have videos of their room, neighborhood and talk about the rates and their opinions. It is definitely worth your time!
  • There are also special Facebook groups regarding student housing and items on sale by and for the students. You might have to get permission to sign up for those, or might have to present your proof of enrollment to the admins.
  • On these Facebook groups students who are leaving the campus for breaks, internships or research somewhere else put their places on sublease. That can vary from weeks to months. These sub-leases are something to look out before you transit to your own place.
9. DO NOT commit on any long term lease unless you are physically here and see the place, neighborhood by yourself. Generally the lease are year long, which means you might have to pay extra to get-off the hook. It is not a pleasant situation for sure.
10. Neighborhood, distance from the campus and availability of public commute to and from the campus and their timings should also be considered. Most of the cities in States are bike friendly, or are trying to be. Look for biking routes, distance and terrain. I always bike, rain or shine, if you know Seattle, you will know what I mean here. Biking not only keeps you healthy but saves a lot of money!
11. Try to find friends, friends of friends or relatives at the place you intend to go. Ask for suggestions, ideas or may even provide a temporary shelter until you settle in by yourself.
12.Also notice for the apartments condition: unfurnished, semi or fully furnished. You might have to buy your own mattress, furniture and linens. They are not only a constraint on your limited budget but also a hassle to transport plus you will be amazed by the amount you will gather by the end of your stay. Can’t carry them back home, leave them- remember you spent your precious bucks on them!
13. Be careful when choosing a shared apartment. Undergrads: They can be loud, noisy and party a lot! Discrimination against peoples preference can be a huge issue here. Be careful to talk to your flat/room mates and clear your heads before hand. The best practical way to do so is ask for their Name and Pronouns they prefer using.
Oh boy, if you have issues with these, better seek for solo housings!
14. Besides actual rent, in most of the cases you will also have to pay for internet, water, electricity and sewage too! Be careful with your budget and do your maths right!
15. I understand, it will be very challenging with (limited) stipend to match the skyrocket high housing rents. I suggest not to hurry and be patient with your search.
Hope these tips can be useful. Please feel free to add in more that I might have missed.
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