Finding a Home in Humboldt
It’s about that time again. In just a few weeks, students will arrive on campus, ready to dig in to their first classes of the semester. But before students can settle in to their study schedules, they’ve got to settle in to their housing.
Whether your student is continuing at Humboldt and is ready to flex his or her independence or a new, incoming student who prefers a place with a yard, off-campus housing might be the best option for you. But it’s an option that comes with its fair share of questions, too.
While HSU’s housing website has plenty of useful information about on- and off-campus housing, finding the right off-campus housing really comes down to a matter of personal preference.
What suits your student’s needs? How much can you or your student afford? Does your student have a car? Does your student like to cook or do they want other options like a Mini meal plan on campus? Those are just a few of the questions parents and students should consider when looking into off-campus housing, says Patty O’Rourke-Andrews, Associate Director of Housing.
“One of the biggest differences between on- and off-campus living is that on campus...you have so many staff around to help....”
Having helped her daughter move several times, first into on- then off-campus housing, O’Rourke-Andrews has personal expertise on the subject as well.
“Parents have to be involved and I would make a partnership with your student,” she says. Since it can be difficult for a student to secure off-campus housing without a cosigner, parents and family are often brought into the rental agreement. In this situation, it’s important for your student to understand your partnership and how their actions can affect you both.
But there are other questions that come with that, especially if your student is living with roommates. Does everyone have to do a credit check? Is each roommate responsible for his or her own portion of the rent, or is it combined? As a cosigner, who are you really responsible for: your student or everyone in the house? The best way to address those questions is to talk to the property manager or landlord directly.
“One of the biggest differences between on- and off-campus living is that on campus, when you get placed with a roommate, you have so many staff around to help you mediate,” O’Rourke-Andrews says. “If you’re off campus, you have to deal with a lot of that stuff on your own.”
Because your off-campus student won’t have the same access to Housing staff, it’s important to help them prepare to communicate effectively with his or her potential roommates. And be prepared to take a step back, too. If you get an emotional call from your student detailing the most recent fall out with the roomie, give your student a chance to cool down and try to resolve it on her or his own before you jump into action. Of course, if you feel your student is in a real crisis, go with your gut.
“My advice for students would be to get to know someone before you sign a lease with them,” she says. “If you don’t know them already, meet them in a neutral place like a coffee shop, have a conversation and find out what they like and what they are like.”
If your student is getting ready to room with someone who’s already a good friend, encourage them to talk about their cleaning, sleeping and other living habits to see if they could share a space without straining their friendship.
If your student does choose to live off campus, for whatever reason, here are some other parents and families who’ve been there, too.
Lori Dimbat’s daughter wasn’t able to secure a room on campus last year for her freshman year. So Lori turned to the local rental market to find the right place and the right property management group for her student.
“We ended up getting her an apartment through Strombeck Properties,” Dimbat says. “She has a studio with a full kitchen and a bathroom a 1/2-mile from campus. She is very happy there.”
K.D. is another parent whose daughter found her home away from home off campus. K.D. gleaned a few insights from the experience, too.
“Check Craigslist and there are other apartment companies mentioned on this network,” K.D. says. “Our daughter was using Arcata Property Management. They may have some info, too.”
Distance doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker, either.
With the JackPass program, HSU students can take free, unlimited bus rides from Scotia in the south, up to Trinidad in the north, with citywide service throughout Eureka and Arcata. Some properties around town also offer free shuttle service to and from campus.
And if you prefer to live on campus, HSU Housing is still encouraging people to register for an on-campus spot.
Parent Julie Merz found that sticking it out through the waitlist process was the right decision for her and her student.
“Although there was a panic among wait-listed kids (those who signed up beyond the deadlines mainly!), in the end there were empty rooms in the dorms,” she says.
Check out our Housing website for more information about housing both on and off campus, including virtual tours of campus housing options, a list of local housing resources and listings and reference materials on renter’s rights.