It’s that time of year where university students are starting to register for their courses and planning their upcoming school year. Many of these students will also need a place to live for the fall since living at home isn’t an option due to high travel times to and from school. Accommodation for students can easily be found on campus but at this time of year, residences are booked up solid. There is a waiting list of course but it doesn’t move much until the end of August or the beginning of September. I know some people manage to get a room at this time, but that is because they had no backup plan and got lucky. If you are on the waiting list I would try to find a plan B rather than relying on getting bumped up on the waiting list.
Residence Or Off Campus Living
At some institutions it’s mandatory to live on campus for your first year, but for most Canadian universities this isn’t the case. Instead you’re left with the option of choosing one over the other. I always looked forward to moving into residence because I thought it would be like summer camp, except it would last all year and it would be with more people. I knew only a handful of people in my class who were going to the same university as me and I knew I didn’t want to live with them; I wanted to do my own thing anyway. I also didn’t want to worry about bill payments and cooking my first year since it would have been a lot of extra work for me to do on top of my studies. It helps to make the decision early though, as it ensures you get in where you want to, residence or off campus.
Finding Accommodations Off Campus
Finding housing around campus can be tough and when you do find something it’s small and expensive. The trick is to look far enough from campus to bring the price down but close enough for an easy bus route. The bulk of students move out in the beginning of May so it might be a good idea to take over someone’s lease and sublet it out so you can have it for September. Many people start looking in July and August and are out of luck since everyone else is looking at the same time. It can be cheaper if you live with other people; however the more people you live with, the better chance it is you’ll be crowded and get angry with each other. You can search sites like kijiji to find random roommates to live with, but I wouldn’t trust it too much because you never know who you might end up with. I would ask friends if they know of anyone looking for a roommate to find someone decent. That way, your mutual friendship can help reinforce the roommate relationship because you don’t want to make things unpleasant for the friend who hooked you up in the first place. I would keep this strategy to friends of friends only who are your age. If you move in with someone’s family it could get awkward in a hurry, plus you always feel as if you’re imposing on them. With people your own age and no family, it’s easier to come and go as you please and treat the place like part of your own.
Finding Student Accommodations On Campus
By checking with your university or college website you will find the section on campus life and can apply there. BOOK EARLY, I’m talking a year ahead of time. At the University of Manitoba they don’t have enough beds for their campus size, so the demand is very high. Other universities don’t have the demand we do, but it never hurts to apply early so you know where you stand. On campus living can be cheaper or more expensive depending on your lifestyle. When calculating this be sure to factor in your time, because everyone seems to forget to when they say residence is more expensive. If you factor the time it takes to cook and get to and from campus it will add up to a few hours each day. Those hours can be spent doing something productive like studying or reading ahead for your next class. I lived in campus my entire academic career, while I never used those extra hours to study , I used them to network and socialize. In the end I benefited from my time in residence, just in a different way than a productive student would.
Readers: How did you decide where to live?