Tag Archives: Off-Campus Housing

When Living Off Campus Gets Real

25 Sep

To stay or not to stay on campus – that is the question.

Whether ‘tis more beneficial and fulfilling to the mind to go home

The couch and bed that calls thy name

Or stay on campus all day

And be productive and involved. To socialize, to be…

That really is the question. So maybe living on campus isn’t a possibility for you like it wasn’t for me.

Or may be it is, but it isn’t your cup of tea. Whatever the reason, you live off campus. And here is the reality of that:

1.   You work a little harder than most to get to class.

Whether you are battling traffic or walking for days, you have a new obstacle that on-campus students do not (unless you live in Arbol or Babcock—those dorms are pretty far).


 Traveling is a necessary evil. Period. So just get up those few extra minutes to get to campus on time. Simple enough.

2.   You might feel out of the loop.

 Sometimes you might not have the luxury of staying on campus a little later due to transportation issues or responsibilities. This might mean you’re not as involved in clubs or that residence life experience others might have. This does not mean you can’t be part of the hype of college life – it simply means you have to modify your schedule a bit to accommodate for it.


The real deal is you either stay on campus forever or find those specific clubs and groups that you really want to be involved with and just stay for their meeting times. If the problem is transportation, try scheduling around meeting times. Maybe you can carpool on those days with members. The UA has some transportation options that may work for you such as SafeRide or CatTran. Where there is a will, there is a way!

3.   You’ve got 2 hours to kill in between classes, now what?

It might not be feasible to go home for your breaks if you live off campus. Maybe getting there will take you those 2 hours of break, and then coming back… it’s just not going to happen! There’s something that feels off about that, almost as if you have nowhere to go.


For this one, it depends on you. There are various solutions that you just have to feel for yourself. Option one: stay on campus and kill time by doing homework. Two: meet with friends and hang out. Three: explore clubs and other potential extracurricular activities. Four: EAT! (Who isn’t a fan of this one?) Five: Find a place to nap (the lounges can be good for this). There are numerous fantastic options for this one, so find the one (or combination of many) that suits you!

When living off campus, you need to take the bad with the good.

 The Good:

1.   In living off campus you have more freedom.

The restrictions of guests and noise levels aren’t present. You also have your own bathroom, kitchen, and room, which to many is AWESOME!


2.   You gain more responsibility.

As a college student you slowly, but surely learn big kid responsibilities. Sometimes, living off campus provides you with a faster and more pronounced experience of those responsibilities since you have bills to care for and a home to maintain clean. The beauty about this one is you’re gaining real-world skills that’ll come in handy when you’re out of here! These opportunities, as well, build up that adult thing called “credit score”.


3.   Really make it your home.

Even though on-campus living allows for decoration and personalization, it can only go so far. If you’re living off campus, you have more flexibility to decorate as you wish. Paint it up, put up those posters of Justin Beiber that maybe you’re a little embarrassed by, scent the house with some lovely candles…the possibilities are endless!


Honestly, I enjoyed my time living off campus! It provided me with experiences I would not have gotten living on campus such as dealing with neighbors, transportation, having a location of my own and monthly bills of my own (woo!), etc. After 3 years of off campus living, I am on campus for the first time now and the differences are quite apparent to me.

 As you get through your first year, you will gain the sense of what’s best for you and what you like! Happy living Wildcats!

– Lucero Pesqueira

Roommate Drama? Set Rules!

23 Feb

Living with someone can be extremely difficult. Everyone’s personality is different, and oftentimes, people are used to the way their childhood homes were run. Personally, I never wanted to live in the dorms; I shared a room with my two sisters all of my life; I wanted space to myself. Although I don’t have to share my bathroom or my bedroom (Yay for Vero!), I do have to share the living room, kitchen, and laundry room. This, too, can cause serious issues!


We didn’t want it to get to this point! We agreed to have weekly meetings where we would discuss issues that were going on around the house, as well as a set time we would spend together to not drift apart!

The Living Room

At first, the living room was the perfect place for all of us to have some time to spend together. We would watch our novelas, have study nights, and our monthly movie-thon. When you first live with you roommates nothing seems to go wrong, mainly because you just moved out of your parents’ house.

At first its a lot like this!

At first its a lot like this! Don’t forget the sharing clothes! (:

But eventually, everyone started leaving their things scattered around, and the living room became a huge mess.


My living room is clean now, but this is often what you would find coming into my apartment!

Initiating regular roommate meetings made it easier for us to talk about the things that were bothering us without feeling like anyone was going to get mad, or that we were stepping on anyone’s toes. It also made us realize that a lot of us had the same concerns and made it easier to fix them.

The Kitchen

This is probably the one thing that we still struggle on. Sometimes, when you cook, you just want to eat and forget that you got so many dishes dirty!


Welcome to Casa de la Vero and the dirty dishes that house there!

At least that’s the case with me, but having a clean kitchen is something that is extremely important to all of us. One of the rules that we made was if you dirty the dishes, you have two days to clean them! This way it gives you time to be lazy, but also you have to get it done before anything gets too nasty. So far, this system seems to be working fine. Because we all know there is a chef inside all of us…


Where the struggle really starts is when two of us are trying to cook at the same time. There is only so much counter space and so many burners we can use. There is really no fixing this because it’s not like we can say, you can’t cook tonight. We try to be as patient as we can, although sometimes we could be a little more patient.

The Laundry Room

This is the one thing that really was the easiest to fix! There are four roommates. We each have an assigned day of the week that we get to do our laundry. This helps facilitate two people wanting to wash at the same time, as well as people having to take another roommates’ stuff out of either the washer or the dryer. It has been the least controversial of the three.

Things can get even more complicated when you are sharing a home, but setting simple rules that everyone can agree on makes everything so much easier. Knowing that you can stop any drama before it starts, and have an environment that you want to go to at the end of the day, is something that is important for everyone’s health. Don’t overcomplicate things and wait until you are ready to explode. Talk to your roommate before things get any worse! You can even make this a challenge for yourself through our #FearlessFebruary challenge.

Five Steps to Moving Into Student Housing (Part 2): The Countdown!

21 Feb

You’ve done it!  You have finally found the perfect place to live next semester.  The stress is over and the endless phone calls are done.  So go ahead, stand up and do your victory dance; you deserve it! 


(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.) 

Now what?  If you’re living in an apartment or house, then there are actually quite a few things you should take care of before settling into your new place to avoid extra charges and make the moving transition go smoothly…


1) Immediately: Read the lease carefully.  When you sign the lease, you are agreeing to everything written on that piece of paper, so don’t just skim over the words!  I found some great advice about this in the University of Arizona Off-Campus Housing Guide (if you need a copy, we have some extras in the Student Affairs Outreach Office, Nugent 15D).  Before you sign the lease, they recommend that you know. “(1) The total amount of the security deposit cannot be more than one and one-half month’s rent. (2) Cleaning and redecorating charges are not part of the security deposit.  But if those charges are nonrefundable, the landlord must state that fact in writing.  If it is not in writing, these charges cannot automatically be withheld when you move out. (3) Make sure the charges you pay at the beginning of your tenancy are clearly explained in your lease or rental agreement” (pp. 23).  Don’t get tricked into paying more than you have to!  Read the fine print (see example below) and if you don’t understand something, speak up and ask plenty of questions.

mean girls hand raise


2) One month before move-in: Call the utility companies.  Unless all utilities are included in rent, chances are it is up to you to set up electricity, water, Internet, and cable.  You often have to put a deposit down for utilities if you are a new customer and don’t have a record with the provider. The utilities will need to go under someone’s name and credit card, and that person will be responsible for paying the bill.  Then, each roommate will pay that person the average utility fee for each month.  Make sure the person who pays the bill is responsible to avoid any late charges.  Don’t forget, sometimes these companies are backed up for inspections or turning on the gas during move-in season. It could take a while for them to process your request, so don’t procrastinate.  I was unaware of this last August when I moved into my apartment and almost got fined fifty dollars by the leasing office because the electricity was being billed to them instead of me.  Don’t let that happen to you — you don’t want to be taking cold showers for a week until your gas is turned on!


3) A few weeks before move-in: Make a list of necessary household items.  Is your house / apartment furnished?  Are a microwave, washer, and dryer included?  Make a list of everything you’ll need, from utensils and dishware to a kitchen table and chairs (example list below).  Create a Google Docs Excel spreadsheet of these items and share it with your roommates, then have everyone type their name next to the items they are able to bring. This will give you a clear idea of what everyone already has, and which things you will need to buy.  From there you can decide if you will split up the cost of these new items, or if you want to divvy up the purchases and share the items for household use.  My roommates and I all went on a huge shopping spree together for apartment items before we moved in.



4) One week before move-in: Make a list of roommate household chores.  No one wants to be that messy roommate who leaves his or her stuff everywhere.  And no one wants to be the roommate that constantly has to clean up after everyone. What I find works best is if each person has an assigned weekend where they clean the house / apartment. Each weekend someone will be responsible for dusting, vacuuming, washing the dishes, etc.  Another option is if each person has a different job each month and the jobs rotate.  Make sure that the jobs are equal in work though, for example someone taking out the trash should have an additional job, since compared to someone cleaning the bathrooms, the overall work is less.  Create a list of jobs and dictate who is responsible for each one, then pin this list on the refrigerator so no one ever forgets what they need to do (see example below).  If everyone completes their assigned duties, then your apartment will be as clean as Monica’s vacuum!



5) Day of move-in: Inspect the condition of the apartment / house.  Do all the appliances work?  Are there any holes in the wall?  Is the carpet stained?  Most landlords should provide a rental inspection checklist for you to go over (see example below). Be sure to obtain a copy of this inspection checklist that includes the date of the inspection. Just like when you rent a car, you are responsible for any damages that occur while you are living there.  Make sure to take note (and take pictures) of anything wrong with the house / apartment besides normal wear and tear so you don’t get charged for it at the end of your lease. Everything should be cleaned for you before your move-in date; if something is unacceptably dirty, let the landlord know immediately. Be sure to inspect every corner.



Hopefully, these tips have helped to smooth the moving transition into your new home! If you have any more questions about off-campus student housing, TWEET us @WildcatConnect with #UAStudentHousing.


— Kaeyln

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: