5 Helpful Tips for Finding Law School/Post-Graduate Housing during a pandemic
It's all up in the air as to whether some schools will be online during the fall or not. With everything still being unsure, I know lots of students, like myself, are on the housing hunt looking for apartments or homes, for the upcoming school year. Being that it's May, I know some people are eager to start looking for leases that begin next month or even August.
I can honestly say I have learned a lot about student housing given this past year, and while I love my cute apartment, I am ready for a change. I mean a new school year, new housing, it's a whole new chapter right?
No matter what your budget is, these general tips can definitely help you some way or another.
1. Consider your commute time
If you're anything like me then you are NOT a morning person. I've tried so many times to be that person that takes the day on from dawn, but its not me. But in law school, there is no choice, you have to be. Time is everything as a law student and with busy lives an easy commute is one thing you need not worry about. Additionally you're going to be spending your whole day at school, sometimes even nights. You're going to just want to run home to your bed after, so convenience is key.
My commute this year was about an hour with morning traffic. Part of this was a 20 min walk to the T station, and then a 20 minute T rain (which wasn't bad in my opinion) If I happened to catch the bus to the T, then it would be a bit shorter. This was wayyyyy too long for me. Sometimes I'd cut it very close to class and given that I go to school in Boston, the T schedules are often unpredictable. If you're going to school in a big city where public transportation is your method of traveling you need to be mindful of the fact that even when you're on time, the train/bus may not be and some professors may not be willing to withstand that.
To track your commute, I suggest using Google Maps which has been the most accurate for me. Since we can't physically cannot go there a do a trial run of our commutes, we have really have to befriend technology here.
2. Ask about the Appliances
You are not going to have time to fix appliances if they break, you just won't. While accidents occasionally happen and we have to fix things, things that come broken don't usually get fixed right away.
When I first moved in the previous owners of my apartment neglected care of the appliances. The stove was broken and the breaker repeatedly tripped. I didn't even know how to fix a breaker before moving into this place. It was annoying for the first week, but eventually the stove was fixed. However, the breaker still trips.
Whether you're going through an agent, or a landlord themselves you need to ask about these things. This should be a given, but sometimes we get so carried away with the rush and urgency of finding housing that we forget to do these things.
It might be worth it to see what the place your renting lacks and take that into consideration. For me it was a dishwasher. I thought I could handle washing dishes but sitting there for an hour washing dishes from cooking ended up being a total nightmare.
3. Convenience to a grocery store
I suggest looking for something close a grocery store. For cities this means you can easily walk there, and bring heavy grocery bags back including cases of water (if you're like me). For suburbs, if you have a car this isn't a worry but for those Ubering or using rideshare services, you might want to live closer to a grocery store.
More than ever, we're realizing how grocery stores are essential to our lives. It's so important to be situated near something in case an emergency comes up or if you just need to go run out and get a tub of Ben and Jerry's to eat your feelings...thats okay too (this happens a lot in law school btw).
4. Do the Virtual Tour
Don't trust the photos you're seeing. This may be common sense but lots of these pictures are edited in order to get the property sold to the buyer. Since these listings are all online and there is no physical way to go and see the property so it's important that you don't look past the virtual tour. Some of these websites will already have them listed but always ask the renter/agent just incase. (Especially if you're using apartments.com-this is ALWAYS the case there).
The number one thing you should be thinking of when it comes to choosing housing is safety. As students you're going to spending hours in the library doing work or participating in after school clubs etc. Whatever the case, you need to prepare for late nights and having a plan to get home safely. I had a rule that past a certain time I'd take an Uber, but this adds up after a while and theres only so many rewards you get after becoming a platinum member (rolls eyes).
My suggestion is, look for a town that has a lot of other students. If you're in a student community, students tend to look out for one another and no matter what hour of the day it tends to be very lively so you're not completely alone walking home at night. Chances are there is a town like this given you're going to a post graduate school anyways. Plus its always nice to be around other students. It definitely gives you an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends.
Heres a glimpse of my first apartment in Boston. Its a cute little place.