Now is the time when people begin to think about where they will live next year. Suddenly, the prospects of apartments, leases, and roommates start swirling around your head and it all seems a bit overwhelming. Don't fear -- apartment hunting in Davis is not too bad. Take it from me: I chose to live in an apartment instead of a dorm so I already had to go through the process of finding and signing with an apartment. Here are a few tips to make sure you get the best deal possible as smoothly as possible:
1. Figure out what you want.
The first step in finding an apartment is to know what to look for. Make a list of aspects you would like. On-site laundry? A large kitchen? Close proximity to school? Your list of wants may be long, but then try to whittle it down to some essentials that you won't budge on. You probably won't find an apartment that fulfills every want, but knowing what to look for and what you are more flexible on will help narrow down the search.2. Location. Location. Location.
Remember, the closer you are to campus, the higher the rent will be. If you don't plan on getting a car, a close proximity may be important to you. However, since Davis does have an extensive bus system, looking at apartments further away may be a good idea, especially if you are on a budget. Also make sure to look for shopping and other sites like parks near the apartment. This may be especially handy if you don't want to travel too far to get groceries or would like a nearby running trail.3. Consider roommates.
It's pretty much a fact: the more roommates you have, the less you have to pay. Living with two or three roommates can be a great idea and can sometimes mean you can spend less than $500 on rent. However, make sure to look out for apartments with multiple bedrooms. Also, this is a good time to start looking for roommates so you aren't in a rush later on. You'll be living with these people for a while, so you want to make sure you all get along. You definitely want to avoid those roommate-from-hell situations. Also, don't be afraid to share a bedroom with another person to keep the rent low!4. Tour the apartments.
It is essential to get a feel of the apartments in person. The pictures you see online often show just the highlights of a complex, but touring will show you many more perspectives and you will get to interact with some of the people who actually work or live there. Take a weekend or two to tour around with a couple prospective roommates so you can get a more accurate comparison.5. Don't fall for flashy amenities.
Many apartment complexes boast 24 hour on-site gyms and large pools. These may be great, but they do add quite a bit to your rent. When UC Davis already gives you full access to the ARC, make sure to evaluate how important it is for you to have excess amenities at your apartment. Also, don't let these amenities overshadow the quality of the apartment itself, since you'll probably spend much more time in your apartment than the pool.6. Look at apartments that don't advertise.
This is probably one of the best tips I can give you. A quick Google search will give you many great apartments with fancy websites and effective marketing. However, this marketing means that many other students will be looking there as well so they are able to jack up the rent prices. When I looked for apartments, I drove around Davis and saw all the complexes that weren't obvious online. I called them in person and found that these were often much lower in price than the flashier complexes! I even ended up in one of these non-advertised apartments, which costs about $300 less than the other apartments I looked at. Take a day or two to explore all the hidden gems around Davis: You won't regret it!
7. Air conditioning.
Repeat after me: I deserve air conditioning. When Davis gets over a hundred degrees in summer, you'll really appreciate it. Some apartments have wall units while others have central air. If you can get it, central air is better but for whatever reason, a lot of really expensive apartments only have wall units. Keep this in mind when comparing apartments.8. Rent price and utilities.
Rent is pretty high in Davis, considering it isn't a major city. However, there are a lot of students willing to pay a lot so places charge a lot. When comparing prices, note the prices of the rent, but also note any additional utilities, which can really add up. Some places charge extra utilities per person.
9. Apply early.
Applying early is the best way to give yourself a good shot of getting the apartment you want. With so many other freshmen also looking for apartments, you'll have quite a bit of competition. Don't flounder around and debate with your roommates for too long because before you know it, the apartment may be taken. I looked for my apartment a bit after being accepted, around May, and though I was able to find a place, many of the options I wanted to look at were already completely booked. January is usually a good time to inquire about apartments.
Getting your first apartment is a huge step. It is definitely strange to pay rent each month, but you will feel more adult than ever. No longer will you be shielded by the rules and regulations of your dorms, so you will be freer than you've ever been. Make sure to take time to pick your new home!
Lead Image: Willow Osborn via Flickr Creative Commons.