Five Steps to Finding Student Housing (Part 1)

17 Feb

Round and round and round we go, where we’ll live, nobody knows!

Those are the thoughts that swirl through my head every year around this time. It’s nearing Valentine’s Day, which is usually a good marker for when fellow Wildcats start looking for next semester’s housing. We have plenty of options to choose from: dorms, houses, apartments, or living at home if you’re a Tucson native.

For me, it seems I haven’t found that perfect place yet to call my home away from home or have I? 


Freshman year, I lived on campus at Arbol de la Vida

Living in the dorms was one of the best decisions I made as a freshman because it introduced me to a whole new friend-group and welcomed me into a community (“Arbolians”) within a community (Wildcats). 

The rooms were small, but the closet was big enough to fit all my clothes, which was what mattered most to me.  A community bathroom turned some people off, however I loved it because it meant never having to clean a bathroom (since they were cleaned weekly by the wonderful custodial staff).  

I never had to go to the library to study because Arbol provided numerous quiet study rooms on each floor.  Although some floors are co-ed, mine was limited to only Wilmas (no Wilburs allowed!).  I loved that I lived on an all-girls floor because it meant gossiping about boys on the hall couches and not having to worry about which bathroom to use.  

Even though Arbol is one of the farther dorms from the Student Union, it is directly across the street from the Park Student Union (PSU), which has Bagel Talk, Core, U-Mart, La Petite, and Park Avenue dining.  So if you ever want a delicious pizza bagel, my all-time favorite, all you have to do is take a stroll across Tyndall.  Basically, I had no complaints whatsoever about living in the dorms, but I wanted my own room and a space to call my own.


Sophomore year, last August, I moved into a large apartment complex that caters to students.

Living in an apartment is a lot of fun, perhaps too much fun. I lived in a four bedroom apartment with my best friends, right next to another four bedroom apartment filled with my other best friends. It was like having seven roommates and I loved it. However, between hanging out with all of my roommates, relaxing in the Jacuzzi, and watching Netflix in the movie theater, it was difficult to find time for homework and studying.  

It was also extremely difficult to live four miles off campus without a car.  Although there is a shuttle that cycled every weekday, it stopped running at 7:30 pm and was not very reliable.  So, if you need to stay on campus past 7:30, you’re out of luck.  This was a huge problem for me because I like to do homework at the library, where I focus best. However, it’s hard to get much done when your classes end at five and the shuttle leaves a couple hours later.

On the bright side, living in an apartment and having to pay rent every month gives you a new sense of responsibility and “grown-up” life in the “real world.” I loved living there, but the distance and distractions were just too difficult for me.


This brings me to what will hopefully be my last housing move here in Tucson.

Junior year, this August, I will be living with four of my closest friends in a five-bedroom house that is only a ten-minute walk from campus. 

Although there isn’t a Jacuzzi, tanning bed, and movie theater like at my apartment complex, it’s a quiet neighborhood and much closer to campus.  I don’t have a car, but there are four parking spots available for my roommates in front of the house, which is convenient.  I’m hoping it will have the location convenience of the dorms, and the homey feeling of an apartment.


Finding an apartment and a house to live in is anything but easy.  It takes a lot of time, research, calling, and planning.  Not to mention the stress when things don’t work out.  If you haven’t found a place to live next semester, I’m here to share some tips and tricks for finding the perfect house or apartment!

There are five simple steps to the process:


1) The first step is to determine your price range.  How much financial aid will you have for next year?  Are you looking for something less expensive than where you’re currently living?  When thinking about this, don’t forget to include utilities.  The rent may seem cheap at first, but it can get pricey when you have to incorporate Internet, cable, electricity, sewage, and water.

2) Next, find roommates that agree with that price range. From there you can determine how many bedrooms you are looking for. However, take note: it is difficult to find four or more bedroom houses/apartments extremely close to campus (a few blocks away); most are two to three bedrooms.

3) After you know your price range and how many bedrooms you are looking for, research. Research, research, research!  Drive around and look for houses/apartments, browse the web (see links at end) and record your findings…

4) Create an Excel spreadsheet in Google Drive, I’ve attached the one I made before.  In the spreadsheet be sure to include the rent per person, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, utilities included, location, leasing contact information. Since it’s a Google Doc, your roommates will be able to edit and post their ideas, and you’ll have all your living options in one easy- to-see, organized space.


5) Lastly, call, visit, and compare all the housing options you found. Visit each apartment and house, then prioritize with roommates what is most important – how far from campus, how much the rent is, the condition / aesthetics of the house or apartment, etc. For example, my roommates and I were looking for a five bedroom house within walking distance to campus, around $500 per person.

As a landlord, my roommate’s dad is knowledgeable when it comes to renting houses.  Here are some important questions he says you should ask before signing the lease:

  • Is it a local landlord and how do we contact them for maintenance?
  • Have there been any break-ins in the house in the last two to five years?
  • Are the perimeters sprayed with pesticides and how often is it reapplied?
  • Can you guarantee that there is currently no mold or large scale maintenance issues with the house?
  • How is parking for the house?

I hope these tips have helped, and that you can find your perfect place too!  Stay tuned for Part Two next week when I share my experiences on what to do before and after you move in!


— Kaelyn

Websites to look at for houses and apartments:[]=1&action=searchresults

One Response to “Five Steps to Finding Student Housing (Part 1)”


  1. Five Steps to Moving Into Student Housing (Part 2) | Student Affairs Outreach - February 21, 2014

    […] (However, if you haven’t found that perfect fit, or don’t know where to start, check out my blog entry last week about Five Steps to Finding Student Housing Part 1.)  […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: