Most of my friends at other colleges become confused when I describe Oberlin's housing policies. "Wait, they don't let you live off-campus until you're a senior, and even then you have to win a lottery?" This differs greatly from their campuses, where the college often kicks you off-campus after your freshman year to fend for yourself in the terrifying world of landlords and rent. While I've mostly enjoyed living in Oberlin's dorms, I'm more than ready to have a house with my friends, where I can learn the ins and outs of tenant-dom and feel slightly more prepared for the real world. An added bonus is that off-campus housing costs several thousand less than college housing, a boon to those of us working on campus and counting our pennies.
What living in a College house would have cost me: $5,900
What I'll be paying in my lovely off-campus home: about $3,000
My friends and I applied for off-campus status not believing we would get it, as our combined lottery number wasn't too hot. When we got the magic e-mail saying we had gotten it, the house hunt madness begun. We dialed landlord after landlord--there's a Rent Book online that gives their contact information and reviews of the houses from students of yore--toured house after house and finally signed our lease today! We saw so many houses that were cramped, shabby and too far from campus that we started to get frustrated and worried that all the good property had been already snatched up by groups more on top of their game than we were. Then, to add insult to injury, we found a gorgeous house that we loved (wood floors, huge kitchen, chandelier...) only to learn that a group had swooped in half an hour before us and claimed it. We were on the point of tears, worried that we would never find a house.
Then we heard from a friend of one of my group members about her house from last year, which she loved. She sent us her landlord's number, and lo and behold, I knew him from an Environmental Studies project I did last year, which he helped facilitate. I took this to be a good sign, and we called him up, toured the house, and knew it would be our home senior year. Our civil-war era house has a big, open living room and dining room, a screened-in porch for sweltering summer nights, four beautiful bedrooms... we signed that lease and paid our deposit with no buyer's remorse whatsoever. I can't wait to move in and make the place ours, and though I know paying for utilities and getting our rent checks in will be a hassle, I think it's necessary real-world education that will make me a lot more confident when I graduate. Visit me at 177 North Main next year!