Universities and colleges in Chicago are banking on the resumption of in-person classes after adopting a remote learning model for many students in the fall of 2020. The move to virtual learning was aimed at controlling the spread of Coronavirus on campuses. Now, universities and colleges that temporarily paused in-person learning have had time to catch up with new cleaning protocols, increased safety measures and training for university staff. With classrooms, labs and athletic facilities reopening in limited capacity for several colleges and universities in Chicago in early 2021, some students will be searching for off campus housing.
What Is Off Campus Housing in Chicago? How Does it Differ from Student Dorms in Chicago?
Dealing with a property management company or an independent landlord is a different arrangement than renting student housing that’s controlled by the school. Property managers and landlords may have different application and screening processes (although they must all abide by all federal, state and local fair housing laws) than university housing. Paying rent to an independent landlord is different than bundling the housing and tuition costs to the school. Another important thing to remember about off campus housing is that landlords are used to dealing with a 12-month lease agreement. University housing is tailored around the academic calendar, so a lease term of three or four months isn't uncommon in that setting; if student renters need short term rentals for only a duration of the year, that's a very specific search. But some landlords may be willing to negotiate the lease terms down from a full year. It never hurts to ask.
What about dorm rooms in Chicago universities? The pandemic has complicated the traditional dorm living model for many schools in Chicago. In nearby Evanston, Northwestern University plans to reopen dorm residences to all first- and second-year undergraduate students in the winter of 2021. Dorms will be available to a select number of freshman students at Loyola University in the Rogers Park neighborhood at the beginning of the spring 2021 semester. Other university campuses are also accepting a limited number of students in dorms to promote greater social distancing and minimize shared spaces like bathrooms and common areas. DePaul University shifted to mainly online courses for the fall of 2020 and plans to admit a limited number of students back into dorms for winter quarter. The University of Chicago reopened its housing facilities in a limited capacity for the fall quarter of 2020. All students moving back onto campus in the coming months should be prepared to quarantine for two weeks after arrival.
How to Find Off Campus Apartments Near Chicago Universities
Because there are fewer on-campus housing arrangements thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students may be entering into their first apartment lease agreement. That’s exciting! But it may also seem a little intimidating. Here are a few tips to make the search for off campus apartments less stressful for first-time renters.
Consider Your Course Schedule While You Search
Students who need to be in campus buildings more frequently may want to rent a place closer to campus so they spend less time commuting. Many independent landlords and property management companies will advertise their apartments for lease with a phrase like “walk to campus” or “close to campus” in the apartment description. In addition to budget and bedroom count, students can search for this phrase while browsing for apartments near campuses in Chicago.
Looking for Roommates? Start Networking
Many renters who currently share a dwelling connected with roommates via their social circle. Asking among friends is a reliable method for finding an amiable roommate, but this isn’t the only method for finding roommates.
Students who are looking for rooms for rent in off campus housing can turn to their wider social networks to try and connect with other renters who are seeking similar living arrangements online. Posting a question like, “Anyone looking for off campus housing next semester and looking for a roommate?” to a moderated group or private page associated with the university can help sort out the roommate connection. There’s a degree of familiarity and trust that comes with asking classmates in the same cohort or attending the same school that students might prefer; then again, there are success stories among the renters who trusted third parties to connect them with other people seeking housing. Co-living suites are a popular way to minimize the legwork of finding roommates while still keeping rental costs down.
Prepare for the Move Like a Seasoned Renter
All the tips for absolutely crushing your next move in Chicago apartments can be found right here. The tl;dr of it is: Plan ahead with your next move and pack up well in advance. Burning time (and potentially money if you’ve contracted a moving company) during the move only drags out a process that’s quite doleful already. Make a plan, stick to it and the move will seem like a minor trifle instead of a major headache.