Students often struggle with accommodation the first time they join campus, Elizabeth Muchiri, an SPU alumni and PR intern at the PR& M department gives you the advice you need to find that ideal apartment or bedsitter.
Settling in your first apartment in college probably felt like the biggest achievement of the century. What with the feeling of finally being your own ‘boss’. But while it is exciting to venture out on your own for the first time; the responsibility that comes along with the new found freedom is an unwelcome anxiety in a student’s mind.
Approximately 30 percent of students who start their student life at the university hostels are moving out to live on their own. This can be attributed to several things including accommodation fees, peer influence and a general need for students to be on their own. While there are institutions which require all students to reside within the campus, at St. Paul’s University, boarding is optional for all students. This provides the much sought after chance by students and guardians to make the choice of where the students reside while they study here.
Finding the right room and environment for a student does not always come with the first apartment one lands. Students have had to move places many times because the landlord was too demanding, a neighbor was too loud or the lighting was poor.For those of us planning to leave the safety of our parent’s home and the university hostels to an apartment; here are some tips that would really help in getting you just the right kind of room.
- Walk around the area near campus: The first thing would be walking around the area outside campus looking here and there to try and spot the best accommodation you can. That can take a day or a week depending on your idea of ideal accommodation. I know of people who would give a pretty penny to avoid this but I am yet to hear of any agents in this area who can help you do that. Rooms around here range from singles, bedsitters to two bed room houses. Since the buildings are not too far off, campus students here will normally get accommodated within the first few days of searching.
- Use notices: Normally as you walk around there will be all manner of notices telling of vacant rooms. These notices are very helpful as one has only to call and make arrangements with the landlords. It is important to have a list of things to look for before starting the search. Questions include whether the accommodation has working plumbing and electricity, is the apartment located in an otherwise noisy neighborhood? Does it provide sufficient light? What, if any utilities are included? Is sharing allowed?
- Budget: Before embarking on your accommodation-hunting trip, determine what you can afford to spend. Draw up a budget. You don’t want to run out of funds half way through the semester. Also learn how to manage your money before you move out on your own. Living on your own really does feel like one is finally a grown up and acting like one is just the right kind of attitude to have.
- Make friends: One must learn that once you find a place to stay, the neighbors there will be your new family. As the African proverb goes ‘better a friend near than a brother miles away’. You can learn a lot just by being friendly with one of the neighbors. I dint say that you go and become everyone’s friend, that would only take away the much needed study time. Ask them what they think of the place, how the landlord is, etc. – get a feel of your new home before you commit to anything.
- Leave a deposit: Also comrades, be ready to leave behind some amount of deposit. I would be right to say that the same apartment that caught your eye will also attract the next person who comes along looking. The landlords here have a tendency to opt for the person who is most willing to sign up and pay up. Leaving behind some deposit always saves you the trouble of having to look again when you find it occupied right when you should be moving in.
- Determine your NEEDS versus your WANTS. This distinction will help you make decisions and will keep you more focused. You might want to live in a trendy area, for example, and there are several of those here, but if you can’t afford an apartment with the things you NEED, then you’re not going to be happy or satisfied. Talking to students on campus will also widen your understanding of this area and the choices that are open for you, especially those who reside off campus.
Last but not least it is important to associate with friends who will make you a better student and a better person because after the apartment comes studies and a lot of it, the company that you keep will largely determine your success in class. It’s important to choose friends who share the same standards as you, that way; you can build each other up. Be with people who will support and love you, and who are similar to you and your interests.
All the best on your first accommodation in campus!