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State College Apartment Hunting 101

Okay, so it’s only September, and you’re only just starting to get used to the roommates you have now. You’re barely settled in. Unfortunately, here at Penn State things move quickly, and SURPRISE! It’s already time to start apartment hunting for next year. It’s a stressful process, especially if you’re a freshman. But fear not — we’re here to simplify the process for you. Before you send in that security deposit, read this list and make sure you know what you’re doing.

1. Find Some Roommates

These people don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be bearable. Pro tip: the more roommates you have, the less likely you are to hate them. The best strategy is to find one roommate with a Type A personality. They’ll handle most of the apartment hunting. You’re also going to want to find one roommate with a sense of humor. They’ll be responsible for providing a buffer when everybody wants to kill each other. Try to get a group of four to five, because that’s what most apartments downtown accommodate (and what most students can reasonably afford).

2. Find a Realty Management Company

If you’ve never rented before, ask around to see which landlords people like. Take all advice with a grain of salt, though, because nobody truly loves their landlords. After all, anything that goes wrong in an apartment is considered the landlord’s fault. But, if you’re looking to go with the classics, here they are:

  • ARPM –– Ambassador, Armenara Plaza, Barcroft, Beaver Plaza, Beaver Terrace, Bryce Jordan Tower, Campus Tower, Centre Court, the Collegian, Hetzel Plaza, Homerella, the Legacy, the Legend, Penn Tower, University Towers, and a few more.
  • Apartment Store –– Nittany Garden, Armenara Plaza, Carlton Apartments, Collegiate Arms, Colony, Fairmount Hills, Nicholas Tower, Locust Lane, the Palmerton, Park Hill, Sutton Court, University Terrace, and a few more further from campus.
  • Continental — Penn Towers, University Gateway, University Towers, O’Brien Place, Armenara Plaza, and a few lesser known spots further from campus.
  • GN — Burrowes Corner, Park Place, the Lion, Town Square, EastSide, the GN Centre, and the Graduate.
  • AW & Sons — Alexander Court, Cedarbrook, Beaver Hill, the Diplomat, and Garner Court.

3. Determine What You Can and Cannot Live Without

No matter what, it’s going to be a give and take. If you’re looking to live downtown, don’t expect to have your own bedroom. If you want your own bedroom, expect to have to drive to class. Are you willing to pay your own electric? Can you live without laundry in the building? Would you rather have small bedrooms and a large living room or vise versa? These are things you’ve got to decide!

4. Make a Google Doc

Really, this step is only necessary for those of you who are super anal. Make a Google Doc with your future roommates. List the properties you’re considering, their locations, the utilities they’re providing, and how much rent will cost. Add a section for notes, too, if you actually care about everybody’s opinions. Then, everybody can review the doc and vote on their favorite.

5. Take a Tour

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of properties, tour them. Half of an apartment’s charm is its ambiance, and that’s something you’ll have to experience firsthand. Plus, you don’t want to find out on move-in day that your apartment building has some real stank going on. Be prepared so by the time you move in, you’re ready to feng shui the place.

6. Sign the Lease and Don’t Look Back

Once you’ve picked your apartment, sign the lease as soon as possible. Just sign it. Don’t think about it too much, don’t hesitate, just give your parents whatever papers they need and move on. The longer you hesitate, the more problems you’ll incur. Leases move fast in State College, and if you blink for too long, yours will be gone.

No matter what though, don’t stress! Living situations never work out perfectly, but it always ends up okay. Here’s a helpful link to speed up your process. Even if you end up living in a box next year, at least you’ll still be living in Happy Valley!

About the Author


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