Blog of the Peer Advising Leadership Program, College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

26 February 2008

A few tips in finding that perfect apartment....

Wow! Alex, Wendy, and Stephen have done an awesome job giving great advice when searching for a place to live after freshman year. Since I have been living off-campus for three years now, I wanted to bring up some interesting points that you may want to consider when looking for a place. First, if you want to live with someone, make sure you two can really get along. Maybe have a trial run first to make sure you two are compatible. Don’t let this end a friendship! I’ve been living with my roommate for three years now and it has been great. Keep in mind all the little expenditures you will have to pay for. This includes water, electricity, gas, garbage, building maintenance, food, internet, cable, etc. Most of the time if you live in an apartment, your landlord will pay for some of the services, but make sure to ask! My landlord pays for water, garbage, and maintenance, but others may provide internet, cable, gas… The further you move away from campus, the cheaper the rent, the bigger the apartments, and more space for parking. I’m living in a two room, two FULL bathroom apartment a little further from campus, but there are two bus lines, with stops directly in front of my apartment, that go to campus. We also get a parking space for the car. We looked on Craigslist a few weeks before the semester ended. This let us get the first pick of apartments, plenty of time to decide (no stress during finals week). Like Wendy said, Craiglist is a great place to look for open apartments. They usually provide some pictures and open house times. Finally, the best tip I can provide: Don’t limit yourself to open houses. If possible, make an appointment to see the potential apartment in private. This will give you more time to actually look at the apartment without the pressure of the competition. I’ve gone to open houses, but everyone was walking around, looking at us like we wanted to steal it from them. Everyone was so busy filling out applications and I don’t think they really looked around closely. When we walked around our future apartment during a private viewing, we were able to ask the realtor specific questions, and we had plenty of time to figure out if this place was right for us. Renting yearly is a great financial, emotional commitment, and I’m really happy we took the time to figure out what we wanted. Good luck in finding your new place! If you have any great stories about how you found your apartment, or if you are looking for one and have some questions, feel free to drop by our office hours and let us know!

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Posted by Julie Ching at 1:50 | Permalink

22 February 2008

Housing, housing, housing...

To be really upfront and honest, I've been in university housing for pretty much my entire time at Cal. Which, for me, has not been a bad thing. Of course, I had been doing some housing searches before I settled in university-owned apartments, so here's my lowdown on what's available around campus: A) The dorms: this is often an unappealing option for freshman who've been through a year of loud hall-mates and bad food, but the downsides are balanced by the fact that it's the easiest option to apply for. Since housing's now guaranteed for two years, you can use Cal Housing as a safety cushion in case you can't find off-campus housing. B) University-owned apartments: they're a great option in my book, because the application process is simple, there are no landlords to deal with, there's a weekly cleaning service, they are close to campus, and all the apartments are really new. Moreover, meal plans are not required, making them much cheaper than dorm rooms. The main downside is that they are more expensive than some of the off campus options and do not offer parking. Wada apartments also close during the summer, while Channing Bowditch Apartments offer year-round contracts. C) Off-campus apartments: the benefits of your own apartment come in the form of freedom. You can finally get your own room, seek lower rent and find, and get that house pet you've always wanted. But you also have to deal with utility bills, old facilities, landlords, and the fact that you'll have to actually take care of your own apartment. Looking for an apartment can become a huge hassle, especially if you're seeking one that will please both you and your prospective apartment-mates. D) Greek system: frat and sorority houses are relatively self-explanatory. Keep in mind that during the summer (and also during the school year), they often have rooms for rent at really low rates. E) Co-ops: it's the quintessential Berkeley residence: cooperative living where everyone performs chores to lower the cost of living. Different co-ops carry different lifestyless, from extremely wild to calm and quiet. As mentioned before, they are often the most affordable option. Happy hunting! Be sure to drop by our office hours with any questions.

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Posted by Alex Lau at 3:20 | Permalink

21 February 2008

Time to find a new pad...

For those of you who are sick of dorm food and communal bathrooms, having your own apartment seems like heaven. But it definitely takes a bit of time and effort to find the place of your dreams. I recommend starting your search early. It can get really stressful looking for housing when you’re in the midst of preparing for finals. So start poking around in late March, definitely start looking around in April. Craigslist is a great go-to. You’ll basically find anything and everything there. (It’s also great for getting furniture later on to decorate your new place.) Be observant as you walk around Berkeley as well. Sometimes it pays off to jot down the phone numbers posted on the “For Rent” signs on an apartment building’s window. And ask around. Sometimes your friend’s friends are moving our of their old places, or they’ll know that their own building is renting. If you’re planning to live with others, ask your future roomies to share the work with you so you’re not the only one looking. Of course set down standards so you’re all clear about what kind of apartment you’re looking for. Have your parents’ or cosigner’s credit report quickly. This comes in handy when you’re competing with others for a place and you can get in all your financial info in the quickest. And finally, don’t stress too much! You’ll eventually find something you like, even if it seems like it comes at the absolutely last possible moment. I remember finding my apartment pretty late, after most of my friends had already found a place. So don’t worry, the chances are slim that you’ll end up homeless :)

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Posted by Wendy Chen at 6:21 | Permalink

21 February 2008

Housing Options

It's spring semester and it might be time to think about your housing options for next year. Many students choose to find an apartment with their friends or dorm mates, and while living in an apartment can be a new and fun experience, some people might find a hard time adjusting. here are a few tips in helping you decide what to look for. Location: Unless you have a car, you don't really want to be walking/biking several miles jsut to get to class everyday. What if you have gaps? You'd be stuck on campus all day and no one likes that. The distance from campus is perhaps the number one priority when choosing an apartment according to my experience and many others. Cost: Cost is perhaps the second most important thing to consider. If you don't mind having a roomate than that would definitely cut the rent down. There are plenty of apartment complexes with affordable rates, be sure to look around before settling in any one place. Cleanliness: This might not be a factor for many people, but you have to realize that you are no longer living in the dorms. There will be no janitors to clean up your bathroom mess, and if your apartment is realtively clean to begin with then it would jsut make your job that much easier. Other: There are many other factors to consider, but the important thing is to sort out on your own what is more important to you. If you spend all your time in the library than perhaps you don't need such a nice and spacious apartment, however if you're living with 5 other students than it might be wise to get a larger apartment. Of course, there are other options besides apartments such as the dorms again. There are also campus apartments such as the channing bowditch apartments, or the Wada apartments in Unit 2. Also, the international house is not just for international students, so that might also be an alternative. Co-ops are also an option, and there are plenty of those around that are close to campus and are affordable. Besure to check them out!

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Posted by Stephen Kwan at 1:51 | Permalink

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