By NATHAN BROWN
As the school year draws to a close, many students are starting to panic about where they will live in September. They often wonder where they should start and what resources are at their disposal?
The battle for student housing in the Doon area, especially for those who want to live closer to Conestoga, begins early. Those who want to beat the rush usually start viewing houses as early as January. The search for a first house is one of the most stressful things students can go through, especially if it’s the end of a student’s first year.
“Search sooner than later,” said Jeff Scherer, the president of Conestoga Students Inc. (CSI). “Housing, especially in the Doon area, fills up quick and if you are looking for something specific it becomes more difficult the longer you wait. It’s not something you want to stress about as a student during the latter part of the semester.”
CSI advises students to check places4students.com, a simple, off-campus third-party housing website. The rental site provides off-campus housing for over 125 campuses across North America, helping around 80,000 landlords rent to students.
“The service is completely free for students to use, whether you are searching for a rental unit or if you currently rent and are looking to sublet your room, or have rooms available,” Scherer said.
Places4students.com isn’t the only resource students have for finding off-campus housing. A simple Google search will provide students with a multitude of online advertisements for housing opportunities, including on Kijiji.
“I find Kijiji’s the easiest way to get my available units out as fast as possible,” said Ian Wilson, a landlord providing off-campus housing for students for almost 10 years. “Kijiji’s so popular now that it’s the first place everyone initially thinks to go to.”
Wilson said, when showing his units, he does his best to provide as many details about the house as possible, including details viewers may not even think to ask.
“It’s easy to tell when a viewer is a first timer,” Wilson said. “It’s important for landlords to point out every main detail that any potential tenant needs to know.”
The majority of rooms in off-campus houses range from $400 to $800 per month. Prices vary depending on room size, utilities if the unit isn’t all-inclusive and what is included in the house itself.
What seems to be the most stressful part for most students is signing the lease. There’s a lot of detail put into one, and a lot of information that most people wouldn’t think about.
“Finding a suitable rental unit and signing a lease shouldn’t be something that you fly through,” Scherer said. “It’s important to understand what you are signing for, what you are responsible for and any responsibilities that you may not already be aware of.”
Wilson said, “I think physically signing the lease is the scariest part for students. It’s something they’ve never done before. It’s an imposing and extremely long legal document that anyone would be threatened by.”
If it comes down to the wire, and no off-campus housing is appealing to you, there’s always the Conestoga Residence. Generally a first choice for first-year students, the residence is still an affordable option for students, even providing three different payment options. The residence offers two different styles of rooms for the fall and winter semesters. Open concept, more commonly called “traditional,” is more of the true dorm room experience for $5,900 for the entire school year, while the two-bedroom suite style is more like a miniaturized apartment for $7,000.
“Landlords are understanding around this time of the year,” Wilson said. “We know that students have plenty on their plate, so the majority of us try to make it a simple and easy experience for everyone.”