A guide to house hunting and finding the perfect roommate

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Navigating the housing market in Berkeley is a strenuous task, to say the least. The search for a safe, affordable and well-equipped apartment is a process that continues to be stressful for students of all ages. This process, however, can certainly become easier with proper planning and research.

The first step to planning your housing accommodations is getting roommates. When initially contemplating who to room with, you may naturally gravitate toward rooming with your friends. You’re already comfortable around them and you enjoy each other’s company, so living together seems like it would be a sleepover every day. But, before committing to rooming with them for an entire year, sit down and have a conversation with them to see if you would be compatible roommates.

It’s essential for all potential roommates to make sure that everyone is on the same page in terms of price range, location and general boundaries. Also, remember to consider any other conditions that any of you could have, such as sensitivity to light and sound, bedtimes, pets, allergies and having guests over. If you don’t know any of your possible deal breakers, ask your current roommate for any odd habits you have in the dorm that could affect any future roommates.

There are countless roommate relationships that have turned sour because of differing sleep schedules or cleaning habits, among other things. And if you move in with a friend without realizing what it would entail, it could potentially lead to your friendship turning sour as well. At the end of the day, try to room with a person who respects your house rules and vice versa, rather than someone that you consider a friend.

After finding a compatible roommate, the real hunt begins. You can start your search for a house or apartment by first setting a budget and preferred location with your roommate, helping you narrow down your search. Listings for potential houses in the Berkeley area can be found on a variety of sites, such as Zillow, Apartments.com, Craigslist and Facebook. When looking at these areas online, make sure to pay attention to hidden expenses, as some apartment prices include the cost of utilities, while others expect you to pay utilities in addition to rent. It’s also a good idea to pay attention to the amenities offered by the housing contract, such as laundry machines, a heater and air conditioning.

Let’s say you found an affordable apartment that is located close to campus and has all the amenities you want. Don’t sign the lease just yet. It’s important to actually visit the apartment before making an offer. You want to ensure that the apartment you’re renting is actually the one that you fell in love with. Make sure to check the light fixtures, locks, plumbing and outlets. Also, it’s good to scan the walls for any holes or damage to ensure that there aren’t any mice. Afterward, take time to go over your offer and read the lease thoroughly before signing.

The road to finding your apartment for the next academic year is long and arduous, but if you start early and take the proper precautions, you’ll be able to find a place that you can survive and thrive in.

Contact Aishwarya Kaimal at [email protected] .