An unasked for guide to: student housing

It’s going to suck no matter what

Sam Johnson

More stories from Sam Johnson

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You know what? Maybe I’ll have that fourth plate after all.

It’s October, which means lease season is in full swing at UW-Eau Claire.

Oh, you’re a first-year college student who’s barely used to doing your own laundry? Doesn’t matter. For some reason, you’re expected to know your plans for next year almost a year in advance.

On-campus or off-campus? Metro Crossing or some barely livable dump near Water Street? I’m here to offer some guidance — and a lot of complaints — about housing in Eau Claire.

Campus living

Maybe you decide to continue living on campus like I did my second year. 

It’s certainly less stressful. The best landlord I’ve ever had is UW-Eau Claire housing. It is expensive, though.

If you’re paying for school with student loans, campus housing is the ultimate form of procrastination. Deal with paying rent later, focus on your education right now.

While campus housing is far more simple and convenient, it has its downsides. RAs, quiet hours and parking a half-mile away from your dorm get old fast.

Off-campus

All the landlord and roommate-related annoyances I’ve had off-campus were frustrating at the time, but they taught me patience and made for some funny stories.

I’ve had windows fall out of their frames, broken doors, electrical problems, weird roommates, weirder landlords and tons of other off-campus issues.

You get what you pay for, though. Living with cheap rent may explain why my house is falling apart and my landlord doesn’t seem to care.

Cheap rent while in school is smart because you can work less and study, party or procrastinate more.

While you’ll spend less money, more time and energy will be put into convincing landlords to do their jobs and keep your houses livable. 

Unfortunately, they aren’t the only nuisance to deal with off-campus.

Utilities

Another irritation with off campus housing is paying utilities.

Someone has to pay the bill, then track down every roommate and hassle them for their share.

Usually, utilities like energy and water aren’t a big deal. Just pay your bills on time and there shouldn’t be many issues. Unless you have to pay for the internet through Spectrum.

Spectrum has caused more headaches and wasted more time than any class, exam or job I’ve had. One time my wifi inexplicably went out and it took me eight hours and a dozen or so customer service employees to finally find out nobody could solve my problem.

Every time I talk to Spectrum customer service, it’s like they were hired immediately before the call. Nobody knows anything or anyone remotely helpful.

Roommates

Roommates can make or break any living situation. Cleanliness, sleep schedules and hobbies are all things to think about while picking your roommate.

My first-year roommate was a good friend of mine, but he woke up at 6 a.m. every day. Meanwhile I woke up as late as humanly possible. We made it work, but it involved ear plugs and an eye mask.

Last year, my roommates were a couple. A noisy couple.

This year, I’m good friends with all my roommates, but our schedules are very different. Half of us are students, half of us work at bars, so at any given time there are two people sleeping in our house and two people accidentally waking them up.

Not to mention one of my roommates has a drum kit. Thankfully he’s not too motivated musically, so it’s rarely an issue.

No matter who you live with, there’ll be ups and downs. Sometimes, you’ll love your living situation, sometimes you’ll want to move out immediately.

Johnson can be reached at [email protected]