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Off-Campus Living

By Jon Painter
On November 2, 2018

Photo by Bruna Pacheco

Ottawa University has expanded its enrollment in recent years and on-campus housing has become increasingly crowded. Ottawa students have even been forced to take up residence in hotels away from the campus.

Living off-campus on your own as a student provides a luxury and peace of mind which even the best of residence halls cannot match. The Campus looks at some key considerations for students as they search the Ottawa area for an off-campus residence:

  1. Location

    Where in Ottawa is your new abode? Will your new home be within walking distance to school or will you have to drive every morning to campus? Who are your neighbors? Will you be able to throw parties without having the police called? Or will your neighbors be the loud ones?
     
  2.  What is the nature of the lease agreement?

    This is certainly the most important idea when you begin the process of looking for off-campus housing. Some leases go month-to-month and do not lock residents in to a long-term deal. Housing complexes like Hidden Meadows offer six-month and twelve-month leases with the shorter-term lease providing a steeper monthly rent rate. Consider when the lease begins -- if you are not planning on spending the summer in Ottawa, you don’t want to be paying rent if you’re not going to be there for a couple months.
     
  3.  Roommates

    Who will be your roommate? Do you trust her/him? Are they 21? Are they in a relationship? Will they cover their share of the rent and utility bills? A roommate is a critical relationship to building a home off-campus within a stress-free college experience.
     
  4. Utilities

    Are your utilities accounted for at a fixed rate as the part of your monthly rent? Are you paying the utility bill each month through the landlord or are you billed directly from City of Ottawa? If you are not going to be making payments to the City of Ottawa and are paying the landlord, be wary. Don’t be afraid to ask to see the monthly utility bill and make sure you are only paying for your portion of the bill.
     
  5. Rent

    Most students living off-campus pay rent in the range of $250 to $400 a month. Living in Ottawa is considerably cheaper than living in nearby Lawrence.
     
  6. The structure of the home

    Is the home or apartment brand new or is it old? Does the residence have a history of serving as an Ottawa party house? Who were the previous owners? Does it have central heating and A/C? How is the water pressure? Does the home look as if it is need of major renovations? If so, anticipate the rent to rise during the next lease agreement. Make sure to visit the home or apartment in person, as oftentimes, internet images can be deceiving.  
     
  7. Parking

    Parking is a major issue for students on campus at Ottawa University. Will your new home accommodate parking for you and your roommates? Will you have to park on the street and risk being hit or broken into? Vehicles in Ottawa are major candidates for break-ins, regardless of where they are parked.
     
  8. Appliances

    Does your home come with a washer and dryer? Buying a washer and dryer is probably not ideal for most students on a college budget, and the coin laundry in town is not ideal. Also, does the residence come with a microwave and refrigerator?

While diving into your search for a residence off-campus in Ottawa, it is important to take your time and consider all options. Talk to your parents -- they have been in your shoes before and can offer prudent advice. Talk to your teammates, classmates and coaches, as they may know the area and can put you in touch with other students who may also be looking for a roommate.

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