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Mace & Crown | March 25, 2017

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Learn How to Live Off-Campus

Erin Sudek
Assistant News Editor

For anyone who has had to go through the daunting process of finding off-campus housing, it can help to have a little bit of guidance. A seminar about how to begin the intimidating search for off-campus housing and information on the basics of living off-campus was held for students in the Scotland House Community Room on Feb. 13.

The presentation was organized by the Off-Campus Student Life Office, the Student Government Association and Rent Ready Norfolk. Rent Ready Norfolk is a city government program aimed at helping educate landlords and renters, as well as providing resources to improving the housing quality in Norfolk.

“This is during the same period as the return housing application process where students can submit their housing applications for the fall, so we thought we’d host a few sessions within the residence halls for students so that they can learn a little bit of information about living off campus and make a decision about whether they want to live on campus or off campus next year,” Abby Kindervater, coordinator for Off-Campus Student Life, said.

Kindervater and Emily Diehl, student ambassador of Off-Campus Life, walked students through a general overview of off-campus living and helped students determine whether they were ready to live off-campus or not.

The search for a house or apartment may seem daunting, but the presentation covered many free resources that can make that search much easier.

The university provides an off-campus housing search to view listings, as well as create and view roommate profiles. There are even filters that can tailor the search to specific preferences to help students find their perfect roommates.

Students may also look on Facebook pages or other housing sites, but the presenters warned about rental scams and advised students to inspect the property before signing anything.

While looking for a neighborhood, explore the area and use resources like the university’s crime map or the “LiveSafe App.” These are great ways to evaluate the area to see if it would be comfortable and safe enough to live in.

They also highlighted the important aspects that students must be thinking about when getting ready to live off campus, like budgeting, safety, the increased responsibility of living in a house and other details that differ from living on-campus.

They suggested using budgeting apps like “Intuit Mint” or “Splitwise” to help keep utilities, rent, insurance, groceries and other expenses organized.

Roommate agreements, which can be provided by the Off-Campus Student Life office in Webb Center, are especially important when living off-campus because of the lack of overnight guest policies and the shared responsibilities that must be done such as cleaning, mowing the lawn and supply kitchen tools and other essential home items.

The presenters also suggested that when renting, students should give an effort to be good neighbors and be part of the community by partying smart, attending civic leagues and being respectful by taking out the trash at appropriate times and parking smart.