Searching for Off Campus Housing
Selecting a place to live can be a new and overwhelming experience for first time renters. Decisions will have to be made, so it is very important to ask the proper questions and seek advice from those who have experienced some of the same problems before you.
Here are some questions that can be helpful in determining your needs:
- How much can I afford to pay for rent and utilities each month?
- Do I want to live alone or with roommates?
- Do I want to live in a single room, apartment or house?
- Do I need to live within walking distance or do I have reliable transportation to the university?
- Do I need furnished or unfurnished housing?
There are some basic choices that will help you in making your decisions. If money is not a big concern, larger apartment complexes keep you from having to worry about heat, electricity, parking, upkeep and general maintenance. While no one can guarantee how efficient the management will be in making the necessary repairs when something breaks down you will still have built-in advantages. A large group of students in the area provides more opportunities for socializing. These units are sometimes furnished, air-conditioned and many even have dishwashers.
For the person seeking a more private setting, apartments are available throughout the borough and the surrounding area. The types of units available are varied but in most instances living in one of these apartments entails some additional responsibility such as shoveling walks, mowing the lawn, making minor repairs, etc. Such a setting provides the opportunity to live like any other citizen.
In addition to the other choices mentioned, sometimes a group of students will get together and rent a house. Such a choice gives you a great deal of responsibility. There are pros and cons about all the above situations. It's up to you to determine what exactly you want!
Where and When to Look
Once you've decided what your needs are, it's time to begin your search. START EARLY. the sooner you start, the more likely you'll find what you need and want. Students already living off-campus can often be your best resource when searching for housing. Usually through word of mouth, you can find out what the landlords and housing are really like. Ask a variety of questions about costs, noise, living conditions, etc.
Listings of off-campus housing are found in:
- The Patriot
- Reading Times/Eagle
- Allentown Morning Call
- The East Penn Valley Merchandiser
- Off-Campus Student Life: McFarland Student Union Building 153
The university maintains a website that lists housing provided on a voluntary basis by landlords. This listing is updated regularly. The site will list what utilities are provided and lease specifics, available for the perusal of interested students. The university does not approve, recommend or regulate off campus housing. It does require that landlords sign a Fair Housing statement guaranteeing that they do not discriminate in renting to any individual. However, if you have a hard time with a landlord, and if his/her refusal to rent to you appears to be because of your gender, race or religion, or sexual preference, he/she is breaking the law. If this is the case contact the U.S Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD)-800-669-9777, and the Office of Student Involvement at 610-683-1383 (McFarland Student Union Building 153) and report it.
- Bulletin Boards - on and off-campus
- Off-Campus Advisory Council (OCAC) is comprised of students and town leaders. The group has provided programming for the University community and the local community and is a referral network for town and University needs.
- The Commuter Student Association (CSA) provides a monthly newsletter to all commuter students at the university with helpful tips and information about upcoming programs.