Major: Interdisciplinary Studies –
Hometown: Crested Butte, CO
Starting college is more than just beginning classes, making new friends, finding yourself, and growing up. It is also about, for most of us, moving away from home and learning how to live without your family. It is so overwhelming and uncomfortable, yet extraordinarily exciting at the same time. One of the biggest parts of this is figuring out where to live.
For your freshman year, the question is: which residence hall do I live in? So let’s start there. If you have the chance, visit the college you want to attend and see at least one of the residence halls. Also, most schools have links for their housing department on their web sites. Check those out, read student stories, take a look at the list of amenities and the style of residence halls you have to choose from. My personal advice is: don’t pick your living situation based solely on cost. Sure, it sounds great to save some money by choosing the least expensive residence hall, but that may not be the best fit for you. Choose your residence hall based on what sounds like your living personality. Also be honest on your housing application: it helps make sure that you are paired with a great roommate.
Living in on-campus housing is a great way to transition from living at home to being on your own. The halls provide a community experience that is unlike any other which makes forming new friendships fun and easy. The Resident Assistants are awesome about putting on events all year round for the students living in the halls, and are there for you if things get tough, whether it be classes, roommates, homesickness, or just needing someone to hang out with. Living on campus is also incredibly convenient which is why so many upperclassmen do choose to stay in the residence halls. It is so nice to know that you can walk to class, and since the transit system stops at the college, it is easy to get downtown or to the grocery stores, too.
Once you are past the first year of college, you have the option to move off campus or continue living in on-campus housing. Keep in mind that there is resident housing available for upperclassmen only (sophomore or above).
The option I chose, to live off campus, is very appealing for most; however, it can be extremely intimidating to begin the process of finding your own place. From the three times I have moved in Durango, these are the tips I find the most helpful.
First of all, know exactly what you can afford before you get your heart set on the perfect pad. Keep in mind you will most likely have to pay utilities which will become more expensive during the winter months. If you want an estimate of what utilities might cost, you can actually call the utility companies that service your potential house or apartment and find out what the costs were from the previous year.
Distance from school and work must be considered, too. You may be able to save on rent by living out of town, but because you will need a gas budget or other reliable transportation, that may not be the best option for you. Also budget for having to pay first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and a security deposit upon signing your lease. Sometimes this is not the case but it helps if you are prepared for it.
Once you’ve determined a budget and general location, the Durango Herald is a great resource to find a place to live. Craigslist can be decent as well; just be careful. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Meet the landlord and see the house or apartment before you pay any money, and always take a roommate or friend with you when visiting your potential house.
When you have decided on a place, there are a few key steps you should take before moving in. After signing the lease, take photos or video of every little tiny detail and imperfection of your new home, show them to your landlord and have them sign a document saying they have seen the photos and are aware of any damages not created by you. I personally have never had an issue being charged for something I didn’t do, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
Moving off campus is a lot like considering the residence hall you are going to live in. Make sure it is a place you will be comfortable living and where you can be successful with your school work. No matter which option you choose, Durango is a fantastic town to live in. I have loved it so much that I am working on buying a house and don’t plan on leaving.