You’ve lived in a residence hall for a few semesters and now you’re ready for a change. Despite the convenience of having been in the center of campus, you believe that getting an apartment would be the ultimate declaration of adulthood. But what does that entail? Are there hidden fees? Will you miss being a mere five minutes from dining halls and classes? Would you realize you rushed into the decision to get a great apartment before applications closed?
According to Gary Stewart, director of residence life, there are various factors students often overlook when submitting applications.
“(You need to account for) travel to and from campus, hidden fees, finding parking, time required for cleaning, buying supplies and equipment, the cost of groceries and the time to prepare meals,” Stewart said.
Despite the extra costs, Stewart states that the on campus apartments, Monroe and Sunvilla come fully furnished with kitchens, TVs, streaming services and valet trash services.
“Be sure it is in writing as to what is and is not furnished and ask for a price list for damages before making a commitment,” Stewart said.
Wanlu Huang, a sophomore business administration major, emphasizes that various necessities like electricity are not always included in the price of the building and could add on an extra 200 dollars.
“I live in the Jefferson apartments which cost about $500 per month and includes everything like internet and electricity,” Huang said. “(It’s nice that) when summer or winter vacation comes I can still live there without finding another place to live. I know some dorms allow this too but an apartment is cheaper since dorms are more expensive for international students. Also I can keep pets in apartments.”
Staci Stokes, a junior graphic design major, made the decision to move into an apartment due to the lack of privacy that came with having dormmates.
“I knew after living my first year on campus that I wanted to move off campus the next year,” Stokes said. “Living on campus was great but I'm a pretty independent person and so living in the dorms was very restrictive for me. I missed my privacy and having my own space. Especially as an art student and staying up late working on projects all the time.”
According to Stokes, she also had a job that was off campus so parking was a complicated endeavor.
“I live in Tall Grass Apartments,” Stokes said. “I live with two other roommates in a three bedroom apartment so our rent and utilities are split evenly between the three of us. Our rent is $895 a month for our 3 bedrooms so it comes out to be about $300 a month, not including utilities, those are an extra $40 each per month. So in total, about $340 a month for each of us.”
In addition, she had to pay an initial deposit to secure the apartment which the dorms require as well.
“We were required to have renters insurance which is about $10 a month but we were able to pay it for the whole year,” Stokes said. “So about $100, once again split between us three.”
Stokes explains that her and her friends partook in multiple tours and settled on this one for the safe neighborhood, close distance to campus and budget. As far as amenities, the apartment included a gym, pool and various laundry facilities, as well as being pet friendly.
Despite the positive aspects, the apartment lacked furniture.
“Our apartment was not furnished upon moving in, besides the kitchen appliances like the dishwasher, fridge, oven and microwave,” Stokes said. “We all chipped in different pieces for the main living area and then each were responsible for our own bedrooms and bathrooms. Major pieces such as the couch, living room, TV and washer and dryer were provided by family members so that wasn't an out of pocket expense.”
Stokes was able to thrift a lot of furniture from places like Habitat for Humanity Resell. In addition, some furniture was purchased as an investment for the next couple of years.
“Once it was done, it wasn't going to be a recurring expense,” Stokes said.
In comparison, Huang also finds that her apartment was worth the expenses, despite the lack of entertainment facilities.
“I think it was worth it,” Huang said. “And we have the Bear Line to get to the school which is very convenient. However, I would like to change to another apartment with better entertainment facilities, kinda like Bear Village where there’s a swimming pool, gym and theater.”
Stokes relishes in the attentive management.
“Our property manager, Lacey, knows as all by name and has always responded to any problem that we've had right away,” Stokes said. “They are always checking up on us.”
Regardless of the initial challenges, living in an apartment invokes a real sense of freedom and an abundance of real world experience.
“I definitely think that moving into an apartment is worth it, but it isn't for everyone,” Stokes said. “Having your own apartment takes a lot of responsibility, from grocery shopping every week because there isn't a dining hall attached to your building, to keeping tabs on the utilities and rent payments each month,” Stokes said. “Even so, just being off of campus opens you up to so many more things about Springfield that you wouldn't notice before. I genuinely feel more like a local because I haven't been confined to the buildings of campus and it has made all the difference.”
Her advice to those interested in apartment living? Remember that not every apartment is ideal. You should explore your options and see what works best for you.