The Graduate School hosts a webinar with the Office of Off-campus Housing to help new students find housing options. Current students answer questions and provide tips on finding good housing. Below is a compendium of tips from current students.
- Try to connect with current students in your field. They can offer feedback on neighborhoods and the local housing market. I was too nervous to ask at first, but I’m glad I did.
- Be open minded, flexible, and enterprising. Put in the time to do your research and reach out to people: be it landlords or people in similar situations as you to ask for the specificity of the description of what you are looking for. Ithacans are always ready and willing to help.
Craigslist and Other Sources
- Craigslist is worth a look with great deals, even on one-bedrooms and studios.
- Look for opportunities on social media and talk to people. Look your house up on Google maps. Look at it on street view; explore what is nearby (grocery shops, bus stops, restaurants). Use Reddit to ask questions about neighbors, noise, the atmosphere of the region.
- Craigslist is a valid search engine to find legitimate housing.
- The Cornell Facebook page for housing is more reliable as the students themselves sublet some apartments. They give a much more realistic picture of how the apartment looks compared to websites like Craigslist.
Finding a Good Location
- Think about what you like to do outside of work/school and what you would like to live near/what you want your neighborhood to be like.
- Think hard about how important distance from campus vs price/apt quality is to you, because it will almost certainly be a major consideration when comparing apartments.
- Think carefully about how often you expect to be on campus. For students working in labs, you may need to get onto campus at odd hours. Living closer to campus should definitely be a priority.
- There are hills here. Steep hills. Do not assume you can ride a bike easily to campus. Make sure public transit is available if you need it.
- How close do you want to be to the social lifeline of Ithaca? If you’re looking for ‘nightlife’, consider an apartment near the Commons. If you’re looking for something more peaceful – and cheaper – look at apartments in Fall Creek or in Lansing.
- Living further away from campus can also save money on rent, but it can be difficult because the bus lines don’t run as frequently to these locations, and parking on campus is expensive.
Looking at Apartments
- Try to set up a Skype tour of the residence and/or a Skype interview with the owner or current residence if you are not able to see it in person or the residence is not a new build. You want to make sure you are living in a good environment and with people around whom you are comfortable living.
- Most of the time you get what you pay for, so make sure you know why the rent is so cheap or expensive before making any decisions
- Check out the neighborhood around the residence. Do a Google street-view. Look at the neighborhood websites, Facebook pages, etc. Ask yourself: “Would I be happy and feel comfortable living in this neighborhood?”
- Keep in mind the age of the house; older properties may not be well-insulated.
- Make sure to ask for as many pictures as possible. Sometimes, landlords can make it tricky.
- Start early and look in person if you can.
- Look earlier rather than later. Space fills up fast, so definitely start making moves to secure housing as quickly as you can.
- Negotiate for two-year term to get a better deal.
- Don’t be afraid to dispute a clause in a lease before you sign.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions of current graduate students/other people in Ithaca before signing a lease.
Furnishing Your Apartment
- Look up the Ithaca Reuse store for decent quality economic household goods. Give back when you leave.
- Try to get a furnished apartment so that you don’t have to worry about basic furniture.
- Be critical of not only the place, but also the possible people you will be living with, roommates can make or break a living situation.
- The best living situation is to split an entire house with friends
- Living with roommates will save you a lot of money, especially in Ithaca.