San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

The do’s and don’ts of apartment hunting


Now that San Diego State students are finally getting comfortable in their spring semester routines, many are starting to think about living situations for next year.

While some may be happy renewing their leases, others have been counting down the days to look for a new place.

Maybe students are annoyed with their roommates, want to live closer to campus or they are ready for apartment life after spending a year in the dorms.

No matter what the issue is, apartment hunting is confusing, stressful and overwhelming, especially for the first time.

Here are some do’s and don’ts of apartment hunting to make the whole process easier.

Do calculate a budget and learn about the leasing process.

Before asking to live with friends and heading out on apartment tours, calculate a personal price range, because it may differ from potential roommates.

Apartments are not cheap, so discuss a budget with parents and friends before wasting time touring a complex that ends up being too expensive.

Calculating a budget is what allows students to set up a blueprint of what they want and what they can realistically afford.

It forces them to prioritize and makes a sea of daunting apartment complexes a little more manageable, so it must be step one.

Talking to parents can also be educational on the leasing process as a whole, which can sound like a foreign language to first time apartment hunters.

Ask questions beforehand to avoid getting lost in the jargon and technicalities of a lease.

“The first time around I wish I knew more about the leasing process,” journalism sophomore Megan Cheung said. “We had to rely on asking our parents or roommates for a lot of it and I think it made the whole apartment hunting process a lot more stressful.”

Don’t assume everything is included in the rent.

It is an immediate red flag if an apartment’s rent seems outrageously cheap, so it is extremely important to ask what is included before receiving a bill twice the anticipated amount.

Liberal studies sophomore Samantha Willis believes this is the most important part of the entire apartment hunting process, because it is crucial to find the apartment that offers the most bang for the buck.

“Make sure if you’re paying more you’re getting something out of it,” she said. “If you’re paying less make …  sure you understand why and what you’re going to have to pay for instead.”

A number of complexes do not include electricity, gas, water, parking, Wi-Fi or cable in the rent, so consider how much those necessities will be used and add that cost to the rent to create a more accurate monthly payment.

Do factor in distance.

Living close to campus is convenientand close-by complexes that are not within immediate walking distance also offer shuttles to campus.

Think about how much time is needed to get ready in the morning, and if it is feasible to wake up about an hour earlier to catch the shuttle or walk to class.

However, some students value other amenities over distance.

“I wish I had known that while it’s super convenient to live close to campus, really for how much I’m paying all I’m paying for is living close,” Willis said. “There are equally as nice, and probably nicer apartments that aren’t as close to campus that offer way more at a way cheaper price, I just wish I had known that having to walk a ways or take a shuttle isn’t such a bad thing if your rent is substantially cheaper.”

Everyone is different, so consider distance when apartment hunting and how important it is in comparison to other attributes being looked for.

Don’t agree with roommates just to make the process easier.

Sometimes it is okay to be selfish, especially in regards to living situations.

This does not necessarily mean be difficult for the sake of being difficult, but if there is something absolutely and uncompromisingly essential, do not be afraid to stand firm on it, even if roommates disagree.

It may be tempting to be agreeable just to move the process along faster, but it will be a regretted decision a few months down the road.

Worst case scenario, it is possible to meet and live with brand new roommates.

While that seems frightening, it is often a better option than living with friends who constantly disagree, or paying to live somewhere unhappily.

Meeting new roommates can often lead to lifelong friendships that would not have happened otherwise, and may save old friendships that could have been ruined by living together.

“There will always be great people to live with,” Willis said. “If you don’t want to live in a place but your friends do, don’t feel like you have to give up the things you want. You are, after all, going to be paying and living there.”

Do talk to people who live in the complexes.

Apartment tour guides are obviously going to try to make a complex seem like the best one out there.

However, the immaculate show rooms are not always reflective of what life in the apartment is really like.

Willis said to avoid making snap judgments based on a small sample of experiences.

“It’s good to get a wide range of opinions,” she said. “Read online reviews and try to get a full idea of what you’re getting yourself into. Don’t just go off of the first positive or negative review you hear.”

Leasing office employees can discuss all the specifics and perks of the apartment complex, but the tenants are the only ones who really know what it is like to live there.

They will most likely be students who have similar views when it comes to apartment hunting, so their opinions will certainly be valuable.

Do get excited about the chosen apartment.

Above all, live somewhere that makes moving day something to look forward to. Do not put happiness on the back burner, make the money being put into the apartment well worth it.

“It’s basically your home away from home,” Cheung said. “It has to be a comforting environment that you actually enjoy living in.”

With so many options, there is definitely an apartment out there for everyone.

It may take time and compromise to find it, but living happily in a great place will make the hassle of apartment hunting pay off in the end.

About the Contributor
Julianna Ress, Arts & Culture Editor
Julianna Ress is the Arts & Culture editor of The Daily Aztec. She is a senior majoring in journalism with a minor in television, film and new media, and her writing has appeared in The Ringer, E! News and local publications. She was awarded "Best Arts & Entertainment Story" at the 2018 California College Media Awards for her piece, "Revisiting my hometown through 'Lady Bird.'" Follow her on Twitter @juliannaress or email her at
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
The do’s and don’ts of apartment hunting