How to Become a Better Buyer

     Finding an apartment in Carbondale is difficult because it’s too easy. Everywhere you look in town you will see signs saying “Leasing Now” “First Month Free” or even “Brand New TV in each Unit”. Carbondale has an increasing amount of housing options each year; whether you are living in the dorms or living off campus, the enormous amount of options in Carbondale may overwhelm you.

     I’m here to help you filter through the advertising and find the unit that will actually work best for you. There are several elements you need to look for in the leasing process, but chief among these elements are price points and maintenance.

     Of course if you are seeking a specific amenity, such as a pool near the complex, or a gym in your building, your options will limit themselves naturally–this is because there only a few firms that offer these luxuries. However, if you are looking for a cost effective, quiet and clean place to live during your time in Carbondale, it may be difficult to narrow your options and make a confident choice for your housing. The following is my best help guide to help you filter through all the ads and promises so you can find the specific unit that will work best for you:

#1) Collect Data & Make a Spreadsheet:

      It is easy to get lost in the numbers when you are searching for housing. But it is even easier to create a spreadsheet to help guide you to the right choice. The #1 thing to keep in mind when using a spreadsheet is accessibility. You need to be able to input data at all times, and there is no better way than to keep this data on your phone–because, if you’re like me, your phone is rarely far from you. If you want to learn how I keep my data accessible and clean, check out my post This Google Hack Will Save you Money. 

#2) Physically Visit the Specific Unit You Wish to Lease:

     Many firms use show models that are decorated and specifically designed to create a good experience for their visitors. These show models are helpful for envisioning how you can decorate and arrange the unit with your own items; however, these show models are not helpful for seeing the unit. Every item that is placed in an apartment takes up space and subtracts an area you can see in the unit. I advise all that are seriously looking for an apartment to ask the tour guide if you can see the exact unit you will be leasing. This way you can see exactly what your money will be buying.

#3) Consider all Your Options:

     Think about the location of the complex (Is it close to your work? Is it close to your lecture halls? Is there food close to you? Can I walk home from where I will be?), and what’s more, think about where your unit is located specifically within the the complex itself (Is there a unit directly above me? Do I share a wall with another person? What can I see from my windows…what can see me from my windows?). These questions are just starting points, you are looking for yourself, and you know what you want best! Go back through the data you have collected and consider your costs and the benefits you will receive by taking on certain costs. Ask yourself questions like: is the increased rent of a newly renovated apartment worth it to me? Are the savings of leasing a standard apartment worth more to me? Do I require a dishwasher/laundry machine/microwave in my unit and is the rent increase worth it to me? Will I be paying for my own electricity use, or is my increased rent paying for my neighbors electricity too? Am I willing to pay more for space, or will I be happier saving money living in a smaller unit?

     It is too easy to become bogged down with all the advertising promises and numbers thrown at you when searching for college housing. Fight back! Filter through the mess and find what is best for you!