Apartment Hunting, College Planning

The Skinny on Roomies

Shacking up with roommates can be either as fun as summer camp or as bad as the worst moments of Jersey Shore.  It’s good to lay out the pros and cons of taking on roommates before putting your name on the dotted line.

Pro: Cha-Ching!
The more bodies in the room, the lower everyone pays individually for rent.  You boost your buying power and can live in better digs for a lower price if you get roommates.  The savings just keeps coming, including on utility bills, groceries, furniture, and other apartment-related expenses.  According to the Boston Globe, a two-bedroom apartment in the Back Bay now rents for $2,857 a month; in Jamaica Plain, for $1,536. 

Con: “Dude, I’m broke.  Can you hit me up next week?”
Everybody paying their share sounds great in theory, but in practice you might have to browbeat your roommates to get the bills paid.  Get stuck with a deadbeat roomie and you could end up evicted.  Definitely a bummer!

Pro: Pitching in
Nothing sounds sweeter than realizing it’s not your turn to do the dishes.  If everyone does their bit, there’s more time to play.  And when you bring someone home, you can blame the dirty dishes on your roommate, so you don’t look like a complete slob.

Con: “There’s mold on your dishes, man.”
Your roomie might have been raised in a barn, and have a problem with keeping things clean.  You might find yourself fuming while you’re scrubbing a roommate’s breakfast bowl before you can have dinner.

Pro: Instant Party?
No more lonely Friday nights.  You always got someone to watch a show with, or complain to.

Con: “Dude, privacy, please?  I’m in the bathroom.”
With a roomie, you are never alone.  Things can get awkward quick if they’re bringing someone home every night while you’re cramming for a Pre-Calc. exam.  With a roommate, you lose your fortress of solitude forever.   But then again, how much privacy do you have in a dorm like Warren Towers at BU?

The Lowdown:
Picking the right roomie makes all the difference.  Make sure you get someone who’s responsible and compatible before you start to find an apartment.

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Housing Advice, Landlords, Renting

Why Landlords Should Encourage Renters to Get Renters’ Insurance

For some landlords, it is purely the decision of the tenant on whether to get renters’ insurance or not; for renters, renters’ insurance often seems like an “unneeded expense.” However, by renters not having renters’ insurance coverage, it cannot only hurt them, but it can also hurt their landlords. This is why it is important for landlords to not only educate their tenants on the benefits of renters’ insurance, but to encourage them to get this type of coverage.

First, by ensuring tenants have renters’ insurance, landlords can prevent any unwanted insurance claims being made against them. In fact, according to survey by Joshua Tree Consulting, rental property owners deal with about eight insurance claims like this a year. By helping to educate and encourage their tenants to get renters’ insurance, it can limit the number of these claims and the associated legal expenses that may come with it.

For landlords, renters’ insurance can also help cover their deductible in cases in which their tenant is responsible for damage to the property. In fact, according to a white paper published by Joshua Tree Consulting, landlords pay an average of over $2,400 per property for tenant-caused damage, as compared to just over $1,300 in properties where landlords required tenants to carry renters’ insurance. In this way, landlords can save money by encouraging tenants to get renters’ insurance.

While there are several financial benefits to encouraging renters’ insurance, responsible landlords can also value the importance of having this type of coverage. Incidences like fire and theft are not so “farfetched” in that they are impossible. By encouraging tenants to get renters’ insurance, landlords can help ease the minds of their tenants, so that should these incidences occur, they know they will be covered..

Renters’ insurance for both tenants and landlords is smart choice when renting, as it can save both parties money and stress in the case of fire, theft, or injury on a property. Landlords should remind tenants of the implications that incidences have, and the damage and loss they can inflict. It is important to stress foresight and caution when renting, as accidents can happen. For while renters’ insurance may seem like an unneeded expense now, it is something that will help both landlords and renters get through the times in which the improbable becomes probable.

Reference

“Renters’ Insurance Protects Landlords as Well as Tenants” by Jeffrey Turk

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Housing Advice, Student Life

Getting To Know Your New Home

If you’re heading off to college for the first time, you most likely will be finding yourself in an entirely new place.  It can be incredibly daunting if you don’t know anyone, you don’t know of any cool places to go yet, and you’re just starting off at your new school.  At JumpOffCampus, we’ve certainly been there, and that is why we’ve put together some suggestions for helping you get to know your new home.

Check the walkability score.  In one of Mark’s previous posts, he had mentioned using Walk Score to find cool places near you.  Not only will the site give you the rating of how walkable your city is, but you’ll also get a listing of all the restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, retail stores, bookstores, bars, and other entertainment venues right in your area.

If you’re a coffee lover, try CoffeeSeeker.com.  By simply putting in your zip code, you can find all the coffee shops right within your area.  That way you can even try all the coffee shops in your neighborhood to see which one you like the best.

Check local newspapers and other local publications for cool events and reviews.  One of the best resources you can use are the local publications in your area.  Not only can these give you listings of some of the local businesses near you, but they may also give you reviews of these places so you can determine if it would be a place you would like.  If you live in Boston or Providence, you may want to check out the Boston or Providence Phoenix, which will have a ton of cool listings right in your area.

Take a drive.  Another way to find intriguing places is to simply take a drive around and see where you end up.  This can also be a great way to get to know your new roommate, so take them along for the ride!

Avoid chain stores and shops for a while.  A great way to meet new people and find some great places is to avoid shopping in chain stores, or places you could find anywhere else.  It will not only open you up to your new city, but you may also find your new favorite coffee shop or bakery!

Although navigating a new place can be difficult sometimes, it’s best to try to take it all in stride.  While it won’t be easy at first, just hitting the web or taking a drive can help you ease the shock of living in a new place.

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Student Life

Tips for Adjusting to College Life

For many incoming freshmen, college can seem very scary.  You are suddenly given greater independence, but with that comes a lot of new experiences and responsibilities you’ve never had to experience before.  Before you head to school in the September, you may be wondering how you’ll ever adjust to all of this.  You’re certainly not alone; at JumpOffCampus, we certainly remember that feeling.  This is why we’ve put together some tips to help make your transition to college a little bit easier.

Don’t expect all the comforts of home when you move into your dorm.  In an article we read by Cristiana Quinn at GoLocalProv, she explains that while living in the dorm is a great experience, you can’t expect all the comforts that you might get at home.  For starters, you most likely won’t have your own room.  This means that you’ll be sharing a room with at least one other person.  As we’ve mentioned in some of our previous posts, you have to make sure that you are conscious of that and you’re considerate of your roommate(s).

You also can’t expect to spend all your getting ready in the bathroom in the morning.  If you have a shared bathroom with 3 or 4 other people, you need to be considerate of their schedules as well.  This means not taking long showers in the morning or hogging the bathroom.  Be aware that maybe others have a similar schedule as you and will have to be getting ready at the same time.   The best thing to do is to find out everyone’s schedules and schedule shower times.

Stay on campus.  In an article we read at University-College.net, they explain that one of the biggest issues freshmen have is staying on campus (especially on the weekends).  As we mentioned before, your dorm room is not going to have all the comforts of home that you may be used to.    However, it’s important to stay on campus to stay connected to campus activities and events.  This also gives you more time to make connections with new friends and foster new friendships.

Keep looking on the bright side.  According to the article at University-College.net, it’s important to keep a positive attitude when you’re adjusting to life in college.  While it seems like your entire life has been completely turned upside down, the important thing is to not get bogged down by a fear of this change.  You need to stay positive and embrace this change, because if you do, college really can be one of the greatest times in your life.

Make new friends.  For many freshmen, there can be a great temptation to stay connected to only those friends who you knew from high school.  While those relationships should still be important to you, it can really hurt you should you choose to avoid meeting new people.  This is because you’re other  high school friends will continue to go on to meet new people, but you won’t.  You start feeling left out if they are always hanging out with their new friends and you’re left alone.  The best thing is to meet people in your class, join a student group or organization and get more involved on campus.  Even the shyest of people can meet others this way.

Stay focused.  It’s important to stay focused, despite having all this newfound freedom.  It can be tempting to go to every party or hang out with your friends every weeknight.  However, you have to make sure that you balance your social life and your academic one.  Remember that you’re at college to learn, which means that you have to stay up on your homework, assignments, and reading to stay in college.

While going away to college can be intimidating, we hope that by following these tips it will make your transition just a little bit easier.  Just remember to that this is your experience and that no one else can determine what your college experience will be; you’ll have to do that on your own.  In this way college can really be a great experience that you’ll take with you for the rest of your life.

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Student Life

Should I Join a Fraternity or Sorority?

Greek Life is certainly a consideration as you either enter college or continue on.  For many students, joining a fraternity or sorority can help them make friends and will be one of their fondest memories in their college experience.  However, Greek Life isn’t for everyone, so we’ve put together some information for you about fraternities and sororities that will help you decide if Greek Life is right for you.

What is Greek Life and what are fraternities and sororities?

In an article we read at USA Education Guides, Hannah Roberts explains that sororities and fraternities are groups for women and men (respectively) and have been around since about 1776.  These are primarily considered social organizations, however, they can be focused on other points of shared interest such as community service, academics, or religion.  The main purpose of these organizations according to CollegeHelper.com, is to join young men and women together “to offer fellowship, leadership, academic support, participation in campus activities, service to the community, and preparation for future careers.” These organizations are then considered part of Greek Life, in that their names involve letters of the Greek alphabet.

What are some of the benefits associated with fraternities and sororities?

According to CollegeHelper.com, fraternities and sororities can foster lifelong friendships, can help students to get involved in social activities on campus, and offer students a chance to do community service; they also help with networking and offer students leadership opportunities.

What are some of the disadvantages associated with fraternities and sororities?

According to CollegeHelper.com, there will often be fees associated with pledging and initiation, and then regular annual dues that you must pay.  Fees also include social activities, retreats, and other events.  Greek Life can also require a lot of time, as there are many meetings and social activities you have to participate and organize as part of the fraternity or sorority.  Lastly, there is an issue of hazing; although it is illegal to haze, many fraternities and sororities still haze those who they are initiating.  You should be sure to stay away from fraternities and sororities who have a history of doing this.

How can I find out more about the fraternities and sororities at my school?

Greek organizations will typically have a “Rush Week” in the fall semester where students considering Greek Life can attend events and information sessions put on by the fraternities and sororities on campus.  In this way, students can find out more about which fraternity or sorority fits them.

What does it mean to “rush”?

According to an article we read by Jane Schreier Jones at College View, when you choose to participate in Rush Week, you will be considered a “rushee”.  This means that you are going to visit various fraternities or sororities and meeting the members.

What is the difference between “rushing” and “pledging”?

When you “rush” you are participating in Rush Week.  It is then after Rush Week, fraternities and sororities will send invitations to rushees to join their organization (“bids”).  If a rushee accepts a fraternity or sorority’s bid, they will then be considered a “pledge,” and will go through a period in which they will learn more about that particular organization.

While your decision to participate in a fraternity or sorority entirely depends on your own preferences, we hope that this has helped make the decision just a little bit easier.

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