The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Living Situation: Part 1 — Housing Hassles

Finding housing in college can be a struggle, but avoiding a few common mistakes can make the process much easier for everyone involved.

Freshmen planning on living off campus should have plans in place by October, according to Michelle Mogensen, property manager at University Area Housing.

“(University Area Housing) started showing on Monday,” Mogensen said. “So they should have a good idea of what they are looking for, who they want to live with, how much they want to pay for rent going into their first showing.”

There are lots of important factors when looking for off-campus housing. Senior Jordan Burnett said neighbors have been her biggest issue, and she encouraged students to look into that before signing a lease.

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Burnett lives on Fifth and Lake, in what is commonly known as the ‘student ghetto,’ but has non-student neighbors.

The police have been called on Burnett and her roommates nine times since they moved in June, she said.

Burnett is the only person in her house to receive a ticket. She said the police were called in July and, even though there were only five people in the house, there was a voice violation filed against her.

“The cops actually wrote us up for a noise violation and I got a ticket for laughing too loud in our house,” she said. “It was $213.10 for laughing too loud.”

Burnett’s neighbors are a couple who have lived in the house for the past 25 years. Burnett’s landlord has been renting their house for the past ten years, but did not mention any potential problems with the neighbors because the couple had not voiced any complaints in the past.

Not all housing situations will be as complicated, though. Sophomore Thom Kishaba has been more than satisfied with his current residence.  The best advice he would give to students searching for rentals is to take their time and think long-term.
“Don’t settle for something you aren’t sure about and don’t rush into it,” Kishaba. “If you think you can get a better deal, keep looking around for sure.”

Kishaba is currently living with his ex-boyfriend and the two have an amicable relationship, but he encouraged students to wait before moving in with significant others.

For Kishaba, the most important factor when finding a house is location, a response common across the board. Kishaba previously lived in the downtown area and wanted to be closer to the campus area.

“A lot of it is proximity to campus,” he said. “It’s nice to have the ability to walk to school.”

Mogensen said those leasing early tend to get the best locations, so timeliness can be important.

“I guess there is no easy process to finding an apartment,” Mogensen said.. “Get on top of things as soon as our list comes out — (the properties) are going to be gone in a week so just be organized when going on showings.”

Mogensen advised students to stay in one house or apartment instead of changing locations each year.

“I don’t think they realize how much costs and stress is associated with moving every year,” Mogensen said.

Freshman Betsy Albers has been struggling with the transition from living in the residence halls to finding off-campus housing.
Albers’ group started at 10 people, but has been narrowed down to seven. Albers said they are now considering splitting into two houses.

“We have such a huge group that it’s hard to decide how to split up and then also find a big house that we all agree on,” she said.

Mogensen said students need to be informed on the houses they are looking at to make sure they aren’t being taken advantage of by landlords or realty companies.  She advised students to ask their parents for opinions and do research because being a first time renter can be stressful.

Burnett said it can help to introduce yourself to your neighbors, be respectful and talk to your landlord about the neighbors before you sign a lease.

“Get to know them, so they get to know your face and name so they can’t label you as just a ‘college student’ next door,” Burnett said. “Be really respectful because it’s kind of a losing situation. Give the neighbors your number because overall I would rather deal with my neighbor nagging me than the police nagging me.”

Above all else, Mogensen said trust in a landlord should be on top of students’ wish list.

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Living Situation: Part 1 — Housing Hassles