February 26, 2004

Still Looking for a Place to Live Next Year?

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As the spring semester progresses, many students are busy making decisions about plans for the upcoming year. One of the most important and often most discussed decisions a student will make is that of housing. Whether living off- or on-campus, there are many choices Cornellians have to make during the year to secure a room, apartment or house.

As second semester progresses, some may wonder what sorts of housing options are available to the student who hasn’t decided on his or her plans for the next year?

Many students begin their search for housing almost immediately upon arriving in Ithaca for the school year.

Jessica Welker ’05 said that she and her friends chose to get a head start on the search for housing.

“We started looking in probably mid-September, and signed our lease in late October,” Welker said.

According to Welker, “We started looking early because we had heard stories from older friends about how hard it is to find apartments in Collegetown.”

Welker said that she felt rushed initially to search for housing and sign a lease.

“I definitely feel like we were rushed into signing because everyone else is looking then too, and so in order to get a good location at a cheap price, we had to start looking early too. But, I think it worked out for the best because we got a really great apartment.”

Faith Kindle, manager of Housing Solutions, a service that matches those looking for apartments with landlords and properties, said that there are still many properties left to rent next year.

“This year has been interesting. It seems with some of the bigger places, people wait,” she said.

Kindle said that in an average year, Housing Solutions sees a large number of students choosing to rent in the Ithaca area. The number of students the service helps find housing is “definitely in the thousands,” according to Kindle.

However, Kindle also said that she has noticed a trend in students seeking off-campus housing towards beginning the search for housing early in the year.

The process of students looking for housing “seems to be getting earlier and earlier,” she said.

Sharon Marx, property manager at Ithaca Renting Company, said that this trend is not new. ‘I’ve been managing property for 25 years and I’ve noticed the trend.”

Ithaca Renting Company rents Collegtown Court, Collegetown Plaza, and Collegetown Center as well as other properties.

According to Marx, typically students who choose to begin their Collegetown housing search early are part of large groups.

“If they shop in the fall semester, they’re going to have a broader range of choices,” Marx said.

Throughout the school year, Marx said that there are usually places for students to rent even if they do start the process late.

“Studios are ongoing. It’s the larger apartments that we sign earlier in the year,” she said, “that has been the norm for the last 10 years.”

Marx said that the most important thing for students to remember while looking for housing is to allow time to make decisions and not rush into choosing a property.

“Any group that comes in hyper … we slow them down,” she said, “we take our time and make sure all groups understand all parts of the contract.”

According to Marx, Ithaca Renting insists on meeting all of potential tenants and educating them about the rental process.

“We insist that the whole group [renting] comes in together,” she said, “we share our sample lease with each of their families before they sign the lease,” she added. Additionally, Marx said it is important for students to review sample leases and floor plans before they make a final decision.

For those students who have decided to live on campus for the year, there is also a process to go through. After signing up to be in the housing lottery, students will find out on March 2nd what number they have been given. Students should have signed up for the housing lottery by Feb. 13. Actual room selection will take place March 11-13th.

According to Pam Zinder, interim manager of housing and dining contracts, “rising sophomores have a housing guarantee” for on-campus housing if they sign up for the lottery and go through the entire room-choice process.

After those students who have gone through the lottery pick their rooms, attention will be given to those who weren’t able to get a room.

“If people go through the entire process and are unable to get a room, they can sign up for the wait list,” Zinder said.

Zinder said that she encourages all students in the future who are even considering living on campus to go through the process of the lottery and room selection.

This year, students will have different housing option on West Campus, as the Class of ’22 and Class of ’28 residence halls will be demolished next year, and the Alice Cook House, as part of the West Campus Residential Initiative will be finished and ready for students.

Archived article by Kate Cooper