Finding a Place to Live

Types of Housing

Apartment complexes are generally composed of a large number of units. Rent is generally higher in complexes than apartments in smaller buildings, but the availability of laundry facilities, maintenance staff, off-street parking and other features is also generally higher. Complexes attract a wide variety of tenants, so the potential for the lifestyles of many neighbors in close proximity to conflict is a consideration.

Subdivided houses are generally large single-family homes which have been converted into apartments. Some have separate or internal entrances to apartments. Special attention should be paid to who is in charge of regulating the thermostat and to the amount of soundproofing between apartments.

Many subdivided houses have basement apartments which can be uncomfortable (some violate the city housing code). When inspecting a basement apartment, check for moisture and mold caused by condensation, sufficient lighting and ventilation, escape routes for emergencies, and fire separation or protection between the apartment and the furnace or boiler.

Single-unit houses are widely available and can be enjoyable if renters are compatible. Problems may arise between renters with one or more deciding to move out to resolve the issue. Plan for such contingencies. Also, be sure that the kitchen is large enough and that there are enough bathrooms for the number of renters.

Rooms for Rent are available in rooming houses and family homes. Pay special attention to the availability of kitchen, bathroom, and recreational facilities (e.g., a television room). Find out how many will share these facilities and who is responsible for their maintenance and upkeep. Also, ask about house rules (e.g., curfews, overnight guests, smoking, music, pets).

Mobile homes can be rented throughout the area and vary by size and available facilities (typically available in mobile home parks). A park may cost more than living in other types of housing. Ask about the age of the mobile home, how it is heated and the cost. Also, be aware that your lifestyle and that of other mobile-home residents may be incompatible.

Lakeshore units vary widely in price and quality, and their distance from campus and the city usually necessitates the use of a car. Living in a lakeshore cottage can be quite desirable in the summer, but it can also be very cold in the winter. Look closely at the type and quality of wall and roof insulation, the types of windows, if there is centralized heating, availability of potable water, plumbing and parking facilities. The potential for frozen pipes, the need for portable heaters, or a lack of readily available drinking water should strongly dissuade you from considering that particular lakeshore property.