Shelter is the third most important need, according to Maslow’s hierarchy, and since Texas A&M does not provide enough on-campus housing for even the entire freshman population, many students find shelter in off-campus apartments and houses.
When it comes to off-campus housing in the Bryan-College Station area, students don’t always get what they paid for. With so many factors to consider, such as price, location, amenities, number of bedrooms and neighborhood safety, the choice can sometimes be overwhelming, especially when there are a seemingly endless number of choices available, with more being built every year. Luckily, with resources such as online reviews, friends and community reputation, no one needs to go in blind when looking for their first college apartment.
Mechanical and manufacturing engineering technology junior Zayan Ali said he experienced a lot of pressure from leasing agents when touring for a new apartment.
“Right off the bat, [the leasing agent] is hitting us with all these random deals … throwing anything and everything he could at us to try and get us to sign,” Ali said. “I think he threw a total of five to six different totally random deals, one of them solely for the fact because he thought our ‘vibe’ was really cool.”
Ali said the complex he was touring even had a prize wheel that you could spin, but only if you signed that same day. Ali said it’s important to keep your options open and always be suspicious of deals that only apply if you sign that day.
“There was a TV, an Xbox, speakers [and] headphones, very ‘Price is Right’-style with all the various things you could win,” Ali said. “Go to all the tours you’re looking at, make sure you have an idea of all of them. Just because the first one seems like a really good pitch, sometimes you need a reference for other ones.”
The example unit for the complex also gave a false impression of the true apartment conditions, Ali said.
“Oh my gosh, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more bedazzled model home that’s completely not what the actual one looks like,” Ali said. “Whenever I asked him about the surface of the counters he said, ‘No that’s not part of it, this is just to show what it could possibly look like,’ … I don’t carry granite countertops on me and I don’t have giant bookshelves or chandeliers in my backpack.”
With all the stresses of college life, the last thing you want is to be stuck in a lease you can’t get out of, Ali said.
“Ultimately, you’re going to be living there for the foreseeable future, [and] you want to make sure you genuinely like where you’re living,” Ali said. “School is already heavy enough. You don’t want to be living somewhere you’re miserable.”
Many renters like political science senior Kristen Rogers did not consider neighborhood safety when looking for apartments at first.
“Honestly, I didn’t really consider safety that much when looking at my current apartment,” Rogers said. “It was something I considered, but didn’t give a ton of thought to.”
However, safety quickly became a concern after two people were killed in the townhome across the street from where she lived, Rogers said.
“There was a drug-related double homicide in my complex three units down from where I live,” Rogers said. “It made me question the safety of where I lived, and I definitely felt uneasy for a while after the shooting.”
Rogers said she and her roommates will prioritize safety when looking for their next apartment.
“I will definitely be thinking about safety more,” Rogers said. “I won’t be so quick to sign a lease.”
Rogers’ roommate, supply chain management junior Elizabeth Garibay, said while she had always been concerned about safety, the event changed how she will look for housing in the future.
“When looking for a new place to live, the incident from last February was definitely in the back of my mind,” Garibay said. “Do research when looking for a place to live, not just the apartment or house itself, but the neighborhood and surrounding areas.”
Originally published in The Battalion Maroon Life
By Kyle McClenagan
Photo by Kaylee Cogbill