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More students searching for off-campus housing

By Julia Werth
On February 24, 2014

Over the past four months, the University of Connecticut Off-Campus Student Services' new website received more than 50,000 hits as more students are using its resources to line up off-campus housing for the coming school year.

"Approximately 5,000 to 7,000 students live off campus," said John Armstrong, the director of Off-Campus Student Services at UConn, and that number is on the rise. 

At the housing fair this past fall, Off-Campus Student Services saw its attendance soar to the highest level in the past seven years. This increase makes sense. With more students than ever, the dorms simply cannot hold everyone, and people have to find their own housing.

"Students move off campus for all sorts of reasons - because they are looking for independence, looking for a change or their friends are moving off campus," Armstrong said. 

But making the move from the dormitories, where housing contracts are simple and meals are provided, to a house or apartment can be extremely challenging. 

Knowing what to look for when starting to search of housing can be one of the hardest challenges of all. Whether a student has a car will determine how far from campus he or she can live. Knowing how to sign a lease can also be an issue for many students. These are all common concerns Off-Campus Student Services addresses on a regular basis. 

"For help, go to the off-campus housing website and make an account. You can do an advanced search to find a list of houses or apartments available that suit your needs," Armstrong said.

The website also helps students to locate potential roommates by creating a profile.

There are many apartment complexes and single or double family homes available for rent, but the ones closest to campus do fill up quickly. 

Due to their prime location, easily within walking distance, "The Oaks on the Square and Celeron Square fill up very quickly," Armstrong said. All apartments on Hunting Lodge Road, which are on the UConn bus line, also fill up fast; so, if transportation is an issue, students should get started with their search as soon as possible.

Although living on campus may seem expensive to students, living off campus is not necessarily cheaper. 

"Students generally pay between $600 and $1,000 a month," Armstrong said, and that doesn't include groceries or transportation. 

Alex Westlund, a sixth semester material science and engineering major who lives in Celeron Apartments, said, "I generally pay $200 on groceries, rent is $675 and I have to pay for utilities." With electric heat, these utilities can be quite expensive. "In January we paid $130 per person but during warmer months we pay about $70 per month." 

One thing to keep in mind when moving off campus is that being organized and planning ahead of time is even more important. 

"It takes longer to get to class, you can't just roll out of bed when you live off campus," Armstrong said.

And don't forget about food. Without a meal plan, cooking or buying every meal is a necessity, and it takes time. The community plan offered by Dining Services can help with this transition. The plan gives students a certain number of meals in the dining halls per semester.

Although there are difficulties and obstacles, living off campus does have its benefits. "It allows you to learn how to live on your own and to be a citizen in a town," Armstrong said.

Students should remember that Off-Campus Student Services is available to them as they consider and make this transition. "We are here to help students find off-campus housing, navigate a lease, if they have issues with landlord, or with anything related to their living environment," said Armstrong. 

Off-Campus Student Services will be offering several events throughout the rest of the spring semester to aid students in their search. The next information session will be held on Wednesday, March 5 from noon to 2 p.m. in the Student Union Room 304C

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