Well, freshmen, I hope three months was enough for dorm life to make an impression on you – because, naturally, now it’s time to decide whether you want to do it again another whole year.
Dorms can be great: your friends can hang out whenever they want, you’re a stone’s throw from the nearest nationally ranked dining hall and — big plus here — bunk beds! It’s like summer camp, but with a guy who smells and always complains about the Math Empo work he isn’t going to do anyway.
Sure, it’s not the “real world,” but you didn’t come here for the real world. You came here to play human bowling in the hall with office chairs and empty soda bottles.
Or, you could absolutely hate it. Your next-door neighbor wants to try his hand at dubstep, the toilet tissue is like sandpaper but less forthcoming and you spend most of your evenings in the study lounge because your roommate’s friend is on your Xbox.
Too much personal experience? Oops. Anyway, if you’re of the camp that wants to take a shower without flip-flops or just wants a mattress made of mattress, an apartment may be for you. However, apartment hunting in Roanoke can be daunting, so here are a few things to keep in mind before grabbing the nearest application form.
First off, know what you’re willing to spend.
You’re a college student, not the pope. You don’t need a penthouse with plush chaise lounges and a crystal bidet.
However, you don’t have to settle for the cheapest shack you come across, either. Keep an eye out for rent prices and see what’s in your range. Spending less on an apartment than a dorm is a great motivator, but you’re allowed to make sure it’s habitable.
There’s give and take. A bigger apartment will cost more, but not with more roommates. Plus, more people to split the cost means less you’ll spend on utilities.
Speaking of attempting to stuff five dudes in a three-bedroom-two-bath apartment, remember that friends don’t always make the best roommates.
If you think you and your best bud will work fabulously together, by all means, go for it. Just don’t come crying to me when that person refuses to pay Comcast because he “didn’t use the internet very much this month.” Also, just because he’s slowly becoming besties with the D.P. Dough delivery driver doesn’t mean you’ll want to.
You can go in as friends. That doesn’t promise you’ll come out as friends.
If you’re thinking about rooming with friends, now’s the time to start being an awful person on the side. Keep mental notes of all their idiosyncrasies, and then decide how much they’ll bother you little by little until it escalates to passive-aggressive warfare.
How likely are they to lounge around with their shirts open when it gets warm (yes, even when you have guests over)? How likely are they to go out for a couch and return with a small animal? How likely are they to wear the same sweatpants weeks on end without a laundry day in between?
Roommates are basically coworkers. You don’t have to get along amazingly; you don’t even have to like each other. Just make sure their goals mostly line up with yours.
Lastly and most importantly, visit your older friends’ apartments. This is assuming you have older friends — if not, go make some, quickly. They’ve had experience with apartment life, and you should definitely use them as a resource.
They’ll be much more honest than any brochure or tour guide. They’ll tell you how much utilities cost month-to-month, how bad parking is for guests, if you really need to pay the pet deposit or if you should just Anne Frank that cat — the works.
Experience beats out blind guessing every time. Use that to your advantage.
Speaking of experience, I’d like to apologize to every current roommate of mine I alluded to in this article, except the ones I no longer see on a daily basis. Let’s burn that bridge.
VT Collegiate Times