The first couple of months of the spring semester are when most NC State students start looking for off-campus housing, and if you haven’t ever lived in an apartment before, the search process can be both exciting and overwhelming.
First there’s the daunting task of even settling on a place to live, since there are dozens of apartment complexes close to campus all offering different amenities and different rental rates. And once you’ve decided on a general area, that’s when you can sign the lease and start adding to your long list of apartment must-haves.
So before you sign the lease, here are a few things that you should know about apartment life off campus.
The Living Arrangements
Pros: You Get Your Own Space
You don’t have to share a room with anyone anymore. If you lived in a residence hall on campus for any period of time, you know that one of the worst things was having to share your already small dorm room with someone you didn’t know. Apartments in general offer you a little bit more privacy with your own room (and bathroom!).
Cons: You Have to Maintain Your Space
Residence halls often had housekeeping staff to come around every week and clean the nasty communal bathrooms and restock the toilet paper, but your apartment complex doesn’t. That means taking out the trash, washing the dishes, and buying toilet paper is up to you.
The Student Community
Pros: Everyone is Your Age
If you’ve decided to live in student-affiliated housing, you’ll find it’s easier to make friends in college when you live in places like Stanhope or The U, where most of your neighbors are going to be undergrad or grad students commuting to campus and studying most nights.
There will generally be more resident events in student communities centered around free food, games, and popular movies, too.
Cons: There’s No Peace and Quiet
Parties are common on Thursday nights through the weekends, so if you are looking to get some studying done or go to bed early, you may not have the peace and quiet you need in a student housing community.
Pros: They’re More Fun
There’s a seemingly endless list of amenities in student housing communities. Just about every student apartment complex near NC State has a fitness center, pool, clubhouse with WiFi, and free tanning, so while you’re not as close to all the action on campus, you’re certainly not going to be bored.
Cons: They’re More Expensive
Anytime an apartment complex has a long list of amenities, it’s going to cost a bit more to maintain them. Student housing generally costs more, in part due to the pool, fitness center, clubhouse, and “free” tanning.
Pros: Utilities, Internet, and Cable are Included
You don’t want to be calling Time Warner Cable to buy an internet and cable TV package at the start of your lease, but you don’t have to. Most student housing complexes include your utilities, internet, and basic cable in the monthly rent costs.
Cons: Individual Leases are More Expensive
Individual leases are set up “by the bed,” so that if your roommate doesn’t pay the rent on time, it won’t affect you. But they can be more expensive.
Let’s take Westgrove Towers — not student housing but includes utilities and WiFi in the rent and has a fitness center, quiet reading room, a grilling area, and a laundry facility — and compare it with the similar Vie at Raleigh (formerly Wolf Creek Apartments) — student housing that includes cable and internet in the rent and has a fitness center, clubhouse, pet park, pool, and free tanning.
Westgrove Towers starts at $750 for a 2-bedroom unit (or $375 per person) while Vie at Raleigh starts at $459 per person with the individual lease.
Get the List of All Apartments Near Campus
Once you’ve made your decision — student housing or regular apartments, how close you want to be to campus, if you need a pet-friendly apartment — now it’s time to start looking at apartments. Most people end up driving around to look at places, since not every apartment complex close to campus has its own website, but there’s no way to know if you’ve missed a great apartment.
Now you don’t have to worry. Here’s a full list of apartments close to NC State that include base rent rates, a list of amenities, and a map of how close they really are to campus, so now you don’t have to drive around and waste all that gas.
(And if you need a commuter student’s guide to campus, check out the latest one. It’s got everything you need to know.)