In Gainesville, if you’re looking for housing, chances are that you are a UF student; more than 40% of the population is here to attend the University of Florida. Looking for your first Gainesville apartment can be a daunting task– especially if you’ve never lived in an apartment before. By following these helpful tips and beginning your apartment search online, you can save time and find the best fit for you and your particular needs as a UF student.
DETERMINE HOW YOU’LL GET TO UF CLASSES
After spending a year on-campus in dorms like Broward, Hume, Springs or Fletcher, most UF students choose to live off-campus and begin searching for an apartment. And can you blame them? On-campus UF dorms are typically dark, damp and incredibly cramped, with most students sharing a bathroom with 45-60 other students. Unfortunately, UF does not offer on-campus parking near classes to UF students who don’t live in the dorms. So before you begin your apartment search, the first thing to consider is how you will get to your UF classes. Will you walk? Will you bike? Will you ride a bus or seek out a spot in ParkNRide? If you plan on riding the bus from your apartment, you’ll need to leave at least 1 hour before your class begins to ensure that you won’t be late. Remember that most RTS buses drop you off at the Hub (also known as the Reitz Union), and you’ll need to walk from there to your classes. The only other option is to seek out ParkNRide (which is so far from classes that you’ll need to ride a bus from your parking spot to the Hub and then walk from there). Because of the challenges you’ll face getting to your classes, most students seek out apartments near the UF campus, so that they can walk to class.
It can be very difficult to find an apartment near UF, especially if students do not have the help of older friends and family who have been through the process before. Many of the apartment complexes near UF are small and don’t advertise in the local apartment guides or Gainesville Apartment Hunters or similar apartment finder services. Instead, you’ll need to be proactive to find your best fit.
START YOUR APARTMENT SEARCH ONLINE
Smart students who want to find the best and cheapest apartments in Gainesville start their search online. They begin by navigating to sites like Google and typing in general keyword terms like Gainesville apartments and Gainesville apartments near UF. These terms will return a list of apartment complexes close to campus. The first few search results will include apartment finding services and roommate matching services that will list lots of the apartments with easy comparison charts, where you can search by style, size, move-in date and more. These same sites include many photo galleries, floorplans, virtual tours and maps showing where the apartments are located.
By starting their search for the best Gainesville apartments online, students can really cut back on their research time. Many websites also include time-saving tools like “schedule a tour” buttons and even offer online specials.
HOW TO COMPARE GAINESVILLE APARTMENTS
While performing your apartment search online, be sure to take good notes. You’ll want to make note of all of the following amenities in order to help determine which would be the best fit for you:
* Location – how close is it to UF
* How will you get to class – can you walk from the apartment to school
* Square footage – how big is the apartment
* Number of bedrooms – how many roommates will you have
* Roommate Matching Services – does the apartment complex offer roommate matching or will you need to find your own roommates
* Rental Rate per Person – how much will it cost you to live there
* Availability – is the apartment available for the month in which you need to move
TALK TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Before taking a tour, students should talk to their parents, friends and anyone else involved in their decision making process. They should make a list of what is most important to them: budget, location, size of the apartment, how many bedrooms they are looking for, etc. From this list, they will be able to tell if the apartments online match their particular needs. Apartments are a lot like cars; as you increase your budget, you are able to get better amenities. So to find the best apartment, it is important to start off by asking parents what the budget is.
SCHEDULE A TOUR OF THE APARTMENT
After finding a few Gainesville apartments that seem like a good fit, the next step is to schedule a tour. Tours typically take less than 15 minutes, and they are free. Plus touring is the best way to check out the actual apartment (though most apartment complex websites are honest, some are highly inaccurate). You should bring along anyone who is involved in the decision making process: friends, potential roommates, and parents (if they are in town). Always bring your checkbook and photo ID or driver’s license, so that you can put down a security deposit or make a reservation if you find that you like the apartment after your tour.
QUESTIONS TO ASK DURING THE APARTMENT TOUR
1) How many bedrooms does the apartment have, and are the bedrooms big enough for your furniture?
2) How many bathrooms does the apartment have? Will you need to share?
3) How does the parking around the apartment work?
4) How will you get to your UF classes from the apartment? Be forewarned. Most apartment complexes try to make the Gainesville bus system sound great– but RTS is terrible! For apartment near the Mall or off of 20th Ave, plan on leaving your apartment about 1 hour before class begins every day, to ensure that you get there on time. Between walking from the apartment to your bus stop, then waiting for the bus, then taking the bus ride (and all of its stops), then walking from The Hub on UF campus campus to the actual classroom, you are talking about a 45 trip. Plus, if the bus is late or if the bus is full, you will need some extra leeway. Because of this commute issue and because there is no on-campus parking (except for ParkNRide) for UF students who live off campus, most students try to live in houses and apartments close to UF, so that they can walk to class. Apartments that are walking distance to UF classes are a bit more money than those further away, but think about it: you’ll be saving up to 2 hours per day in commute time.