Some housing tips for incoming students:
http://blogs.darden.virginia.edu/mba201 ... next-year/Things to Consider When Choosing Housing for Next Year
This blog won’t tell you which housing option to choose (see previous “Where to Live in Charlottesville” post for advice on specific housing options), but rather it will outline a few parameters that might help you while you consider the various options. Do your research and check the facts about those parameters, it might help you make an informed decision!Contract
– Is the contract one sided? Are the terms negotiable? If not, is it worth it?Deposit
– What is the deposit fee? Is it a month’s rent or just a couple of hundred dollars? Under what terms is the management allowed to make deposit deductions? If they can deduct whatever they wish at the end of the term according to the contract, what usually is being deducted by that complex management? In other words, put into the equation the average deduction fee. You might be surprised.The management’s attitude and reputation
– do your research about this bullet. Some of the complexes’ management reputation isn’t so good among Darden students, and each student that thinks so might tell you why. If you don’t want to go through the same experiences, ask.Is the service good?
Are maintenance problems being fixed fast? You wouldn’t want to be waiting a long time when something is dripping!Are the apartments renovated?
Besides $ rent per square foot the condition of the apartments is crucial. When was the last time they were renovated? How does the kitchen and bathroom look like? If you like to cook, it’s important. Facilities
– do they have swimming pools and laundry rooms? How many laundry rooms and how much does it cost to wash and dry? Does their gym have more than one machine? Is it a gym or a “gym”?Utilities
– Besides the obvious calculation of $ rent per square foot, what other charges apply? Will you have to pay for electricity/cables/internet/utilities separately? Some complexes will charge you separately for utilities (water/sewer/garbage) and some won’t and include it in the rent fee. Utilities fees might accumulate to a lot of money (around $600 a year).Parking
– Is parking free at your area as a resident? If it’s not, how much will it cost? Personally, parking had been free where I lived this year but the complex is divided into zones. If you have a zone B sticker you can’t park in zone C. My car got towed once when I went to visit a friend who lived close by ($150 towing fee). Some complexes have free parking for everyone all the time, it’s extremely comfortable when guests come over and you don’t need to worry that their car might get towed… If you don’t want to walk to school everyday and will own a car, parking in Darden’s garage is $600 per/year. Another expense to consider.Pet friendly apartments and parks
– If you have a pet you will obviously need a pet-friendly apartment but aside for that, ask yourself whether there are parks around the housing option and green spaces to walk your dog in. Some pet-friendly parks will have designated dog areas. If you don’t have a pet, think carefully if you intend to get one during your two years at Darden. It might be impossible after you find yourself constrained in a non-pet-friendly apartment.Late fees
– what happens if you are late with paying the rent? Is there a grace period? What happens after the grace period? Some complexes charge $50 per any additional day for being late after the grace period. Some charge a one-time $35 fee, as long as rent is paid by the middle of the month. This point might cost you a lot of money if you happen to be interviewing in another state, for example, and forgot to put the check in the box before you left. It could happen, so keep a good eye about that little item in your contract.Proximity
– In general, there are many good housing options in C’ville. If you have a car or plan to get one, the longest ride you will drive in C’ville from one place to another would be 10-15 mins max. So personally I wouldn’t put too much significance into the ‘proximity to the school’ factor. However, when the entire first four terms start at 8 a.m. daily, others might think otherwise so this is totally subjective, of course. Try to put everything in the equation and not just the proximity factor. The closest option might not provide the best value for your money!Increased prices
– In what % have prices increased in that complex during the last few years? Do they increase it every year or every two years?Population
– What is the population and what are you looking for? Students? Grads? Undergrads? Families? Darden students? Ask yourself if you want to keep seeing your (awesome!) friends (that you’ll see many hours of an average day) after school or if you want a change of environment and atmosphere. Again, totally subjective.Sublet option
– Is there a sublet option in the contract? When one is gone for the summer or wants to move in the middle of the year, this item in the contract might be very important. If there is an option – how does it work? Will the new tenant need to pay another application fee and another contract processing fee? Some places will charge ridiculous amounts and it’s something one better pay close attention to. It might make extra difficulties with finding a new tenant.The period of your lease
- some complexes (like Ivy) will only sign-you up for a year, others will allow you to lease it for 9 months. It's really helpful in case you are not here over the summer and of course - graduating on second year! You can save a lot of money by a 9 month lease (Uheights, for example). Around $3000-$1500 per year so a total of a 3000-6000$ you can save only with that item in the contract. And of course, you won't have to waste time on finding a sublet, and incurring different expenses that are involved with the sublet process.
Please feel free to reach out with any questions! And good luck!
A Student at Darden Graduate School of Business, Class of 2013
Feel Free to Reach Out with any question!