With Community Housing Office (CHO) as your ringleader, you won’t get “clowned” during the Isla Vista housing shuffle. Here are some dos and don’ts regarding choosing roommates, finding a place and signing a lease:
DO attend CHO’s Rental Faire (11am-2pm at the Arbor Walk) THIS THURSDAY. This is an event that allows students to meet and greet local property providers, ask questions and see what rental properties are available. There will be a chance to win raffle prizes for all attendees. See you there!
DON’T let peer pressure determine your housing decisions. If you want to live in the University-owned Residence Halls, do it (they are currently accepting contracts for Manzanita and San Rafael for all continuing students!). If you cannot afford a particular place, but your group is pushing you to sign the lease, find the strength to tell them the truth. Either assist in finding a more affordable alternative or find another group. If you have reservations about living with someone because you don’t know them well or you suspect that you won’t be compatible as roommates, say “no thanks” before you get stuck in a contract. It may seem awkward, but trust me; it could be much more awkward (and painful) later if you don’t speak up.
DO determine your budget ahead of time. This way you won’t sign a lease for a rental that you later realize you cannot afford. Talk to financial aid and your family (if they help support you) to see what you can afford monthly. Having a part-time job in college is great — but not if you have to work so hard to pay for rent that you have no time to study, socialize, etc. Remember that living off-campus requires more than just paying for rent — also consider the cost of the security deposit, utilities, groceries, transportation, entertainment, furniture, etc.
DON’T think that Isla Vista is the only place for students to live. University-owned residence halls and apartments are great options. Goleta and Santa Barbara are also places to keep in mind. Although there might be a slightly longer commute to campus from Goleta or Santa Barbara, rental prices tend to be much more reasonable than Isla Vista (think: your own bedroom!) and rentals tend to be in better shape (less turnover). Plus, the bus is free and there are great bike paths! If you are interested in a rental outside of Isla Vista, keep in mind that you only need to look about 30-45 days before you want to move.
DO make sure that you will be compatible with your potential roommates. Ask each other questions about preferences and expectations regarding cleanliness, guests, parties, studying, sleeping and anything else that you know is important to you. We have more questions available in our office. Keep in mind that a best friend does not always make the best roommate!
DON’T sign a contract you don’t understand. Leases contain a lot of difficult language and by signing on the dotted line, you are agreeing to everything included in the lease. Bring your lease into CHO for one of our staff to read over with you and answer any questions you might have.
Do recognize that there is not a housing shortage in Isla Vista — not even close! You can even wait until summer to find a great place in Isla Vista. This November-December-January lease-signing craziness is completely unnecessary! Take your time to find a place you love, with people you can live with peacefully, at a price your bank account can handle.
Maya Salmon is Program Coordinator for the Community Housing Office.
Never rented before? Need some info about how to find housing in the community? Confused about the application process? Unsure what a “security deposit” or “cosigner” is? Stop by CHO! We are your one-stop-shop for all off-campus rental issues. We will even pop some carnival- quality popcorn for your visit with us! UCen 3rd Floor, 805-893-4371, facebook.com/ucsbcho