The hunt for off-campus housing begins

The hunt for off-campus housing begins

Photo Credits: Kaitlyn Pang / Aggie

Students share their process of searching for housing next year

Among the many milestones of university life is searching for roommates and off-campus housing for the following school year after students’ first year at UC Davis. Winter Quarter marks the time in which many students sign lease agreements, but unlike previous years, this year students have to scramble to secure housing plans during a pandemic. 

While UC Davis provides tips for finding off-campus housing and avoiding scams, students are ultimately responsible for finding their next home. 

Nicole Lazovsky, a first-year cognitive science major who chose to live at home and forego dorm life due to the pandemic, has yet to live in Davis during her academic career. She is making preparations, however, to live in an apartment in Davis next year, beginning a new chapter of student life near campus and among fellow students.

Upon determining who her housemates would be, Lazovsky began the hunt for her new place of residence on the internet. She used Google Maps to search for apartment complexes and researched them further after acquiring the name. Additionally, she organized everything with a spreadsheet comparing different factors of each apartment such as floor plans and prices.

Lazovsky said that following the retrieval of this important information, she and her housemates compared the apartments, considering factors they prioritized such as an in-unit washer and dryer and amenities. 

“I usually write a note if I could see bad or good reviews about management since that was something that I thought could be concerning,” Lazovsky said. “Once I had that spreadsheet down, we had calls together to decide which places we liked best, which usually was a combination of price and location for us.”

Lazovsky said that due to the pandemic, all three housemates opted to have their own rooms, and strived to find an apartment with a large common space area. Lazovsky is confident in her decision to move to Davis next year and looks forward to fostering her online friendships in person. 

“Throughout this year, even though I wasn’t at Davis in person, I joined organizations, [and] I got to meet people,” Lazovsky said. “I developed the sense that if I was going to live [in] Davis, even if school would stay online, I would have people I could hang out with and spend time with. [This] would make the experience of learning more meaningful to me, even if I was still studying from [an apartment].”

Carolin Hallock, a second-year environmental science major, began living in an apartment during winter quarter in the hopes of creating a better learning environment for herself. Hallock looks to continue living in Davis next year and is in the process of finding a new apartment. 

She began with a search on the internet for one-bedroom apartments in Davis and found further information on the designated websites. She aimed to find as much visual information about the apartment as possible, while also investigating factors like amenities and cost. When necessary, Hallock took the initiative to call and inquire about specific details like parking spots. 

Hallock explained that apartments vary in the type of tours that they offer—whether in-person or virtual—and the amount of visibility she gains from these have proven vital in her decision-making process. 

“Some have been doing self-guided tours, which I really like because I can just physically go to the complex, but I’m not in close proximity to anyone,” Hallock said. “I think that’s been super useful because if I’m going to be physically working somewhere and paying for that, I do want to see what it is.”

Hallock has gathered the information necessary to narrow down her list to the final few apartments, but remains hesitant about signing a lease.

“I just want to make sure it’s a decent place that I enjoy being in, so I don’t have to go through another year of hunting for a new place,” Hallock said. 

Sabrina Zahid, a third-year economics major, transferred to UC Davis this year and has yet to live in Davis. Although Zahid signed a lease near the beginning of the school year, she ultimately decided to continue living at home and sublease her apartment. 

“Everything was so uncertain at the start of fall quarter, so I decided to play it safe and live at home,” Zahid said via email. “Sometimes I regret it and wish I moved out because it would’ve been nice to be in a new environment.”

While this year has been similar to her life before transferring, Zahid is determined to finish off her college career situated in Davis next year. Besides making the most of her senior year, Zahid said she is looking forward to in-person college experiences and general apartment life. 

“I’m 100% going to move out next year,” Zahid said via email. “It’ll be my final year in college—I’ll be a fourth-year—and I really want to experience living on my own.”

Despite her enthusiasm about living in Davis next year, Zahid has not begun the search for housing yet. With the accessibility of  Facebook housing groups, Zahid believes she will be able to find a place to live. 

“I know I should get started, but I feel like I don’t need to rush it,” Zahid said via email. “Davis has a lot of options for housing, so I’m confident I’ll find something that works out.”

She anticipates beginning a serious search in a few weeks and hopes to be fully comfortable with the apartment before signing a lease, despite the limitations of the pandemic. 

“I don’t think that the pandemic has affected my housing search too much in terms of finding housemates,” Zahid said via email. “However, I think I’m going to have to rely more on pictures of housing because going in person to see the place is probably going to be harder to do. I hope I’ll get to see my apartment […] in person before I agree to commit.”

Written by: Nora Farahdel — features@theaggie.org