At this point, most people have decided on the school they will be attending. The next step is figuring out where to live. If you are like me and have decided to attend a school that is over a thousand miles away, most of your search will be completed using Craigslist.com, rent.com, and the school’s housing guide.
Luckily for me, Stetson University has an off-campus housing guide, ample on-campus options, and roommate wanted listings. I spoke to several students about the best place to live during your 1L year. Students will be your best option for open and honest opinions.
I knew I did not want to drive to class every day (even though I ended up doing just that), so together with the students’ advice, I narrowed my search to the area immediately around campus.
You need to be honest with yourself before getting wrapped up in the appearance of the units. Sit down and figure out how much you will realistically be able to spend on rent monthly. This was the hardest part for me. I had to realize that I couldn’t have stainless steel appliances or a whole 2/2 for myself. However, after completing my budget, it was clear that I needed to have a 2/2 unit and a roommate. So, my search began.
I contacted a lot of renters, real estate agents, and potential roommates. I expected the process to be complete in a matter of weeks; however, I was mistaken. From beginning to end, the process was about three months in duration. I had to make several decisions throughout the process such as, why share a house with two others for $600/month when I could have a 2/2 condo for the same amount. I dealt with pushy, overly anxious renters, and those that took weeks to reply.
Do not be discouraged. The process may not be easy but you will be glad in the end that you spent the extra time.
Once you find a potential unit, be sure to ask a few questions: How much is security deposit? Are any utilities included in the rent? Is there an application fee? Is there a microwave? Are pets allowed (you never know what can change)? Is it a year lease or is a 10-month lease offered?
Worst case you will be able to look at other options throughout your first year and will be able to scope out the best locations. Do not sign a 3-year lease right off the bat, or else you may regret it!
Above all else, you are going to law school! The rest will fall into place as you go. Just enjoy the time and remember three years will pass before you know it!