The Grace Space: How to Find Housing in Capitol Hill

As we approach the end of the 2013 to 2014 school year, many seniors are already finished, enjoying the sunshine, going to shows, reading that new book, etc. For the other three class-standings, this time of year is less focused on summer and more so on housing.

I have had a little bit of experience in searching for Capitol Hill housing—most of it being humorous and unrewarding—and this year is no different. This time around, I feel as though I have gained even more knowledge of the absurd search for reasonably priced and located college housing. Below, I have listed a few well-known tips and tricks, as well as some new ones, to help you all make sure you can create a home for yourselves come September. Good luck everyone!

1) First, make a game plan
If you haven’t already, you need to make sure that you have a reasonable plan. Do you have roommates that you can seriously count on? Have you all agreed on a price range (and included your financial benefactors, your parents) in this agreement? What date are you all hoping to move in?

If you can’t figure out and agree on all of this information primarily, I hate to say it, but you may need to rethink your initial plan. Remember: you want to be happy and healthy in your new home, not end up with someone who is always asking you to spot them on rent or has their heart set on living in a hovel full of trash.

2) Check all the websites
If you aren’t planning on living on campus for next year—and I’m pretty sure that time has already passed—get to stepping on housing websites. Start with Facebook and Craigslist; this is where the majority of college students choose to post about their soon-to-be-free housing, and, since we are typically on these sites (mainly Facebook) you may even snatch up housing as soon as it becomes available.

I would also check the following housing sites, which focus more on the Capitol Hill area rather than specifically college-student housing: capitolhillhousing.org, zillow.com and seattlerentals.com. Even if your landlord doesn’t typically work with college students, at least you have the opportunity to have a place next year!

3) Make a list of what you expect in your apartment
Seriously, this would have been so helpful for me in finding housing for my junior year. This list should be more than simply “close to campus” or “cute.” You really need to include what you think you will need or what you think should be offered in your future housing. This includes: do you want laundry on site? Are you all right with not having a dishwasher? Do you need common space? Do you want more than one bathroom?

Talk with your soon-to-be roommates about making a list that satisfies all of you. If you are expecting more—a.k.a. brand new appliances, a garden, etc.—you also need to talk again about price. Remember, you don’t need a dishwasher or a garden, especially if that means that your price is going up by $100.

4) Talk with the former tenants if possible
Again, this would have been a great idea for my current housing had I thought of it. Even if your landlord seems nice and helpful and the place seems alright, no one is going to tell you the real deal with your housing until you speak to the tenants. Ask them your general questions, regarding what rent costs and how the apartment/house/condo has been for them, as well as the tough questions (if you have any). Is the landlord really as nice as they appear? Have you ever had any problems with your immune system from living here? How has the location worked for you in terms of getting to campus or the grocery store?

Remember, the former tenants may most likely be students from Seattle University as well, so you will probably have friends in common and hence get more accurate and honest answers. You would much rather find out the truth of the housing now rather than find out the crappiness of your apartment within the first few months.

5) Don’t fret too much
I know, I know, this last sentiment may be a bit cliché, but trust me, you don’t want to fret too much about housing. Sure, you have a list and idea of what you want, but things change. Plus, the housing you may set your mind on may go to another group.
Thus, don’t freak out. There are tons of housing opportunities in Capitol Hill, International District and Central District, so you will find a place to live somewhere. Change is all a part of life; learn that now rather than later.

Good luck everyone!

Grace Stetson

Currently in her third year at The Spectator, Grace Stetson is a junior at Seattle University majoring in English and Film Studies and minoring in Spanish. She hopes to use her experience from the paper in the journalism world after college, preferably with a Master's from Medill School of Journalism. Aside from all this writing business, Grace enjoys traveling, chai tea and adorable puppies.


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