The spring months in the year preceding optometry school are when everything starts to fall into place. By this time, you know where you’ll be going to school, have sorted out your financial aid paperwork, have been in contact with some of your future classmates, and have decided on your future roommates. The next big step is finding a place to live in your new city. The timing of when to look for an apartment will vary by city. Many of my classmates at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry and I began looking for apartments in April. However, not everyone started looking this early. Even now, in June, I still know of several classmates just starting to look for a place to live. Be aware that some of the more popular apartment complexes may fill up early!
Questions to ask yourself before you go apartment hunting:
The first thing my roommates and I did before we went apartment hunting was to make a list of what we wanted in an apartment. We were very conscious of staying within our price range. Our top priority was to find an apartment complex close to school. We knew this area would be safe and that there would be many other students living in the area. We talked to upperclassmen to find out what apartment complexes they recommended (and didn’t recommend) in the area close to PCO. I’d highly recommend talking to current students at your school when beginning your apartment hunt!
- What price range are we considering? Remember to factor in the cost of utilities (water, heat, air conditioning, cable, internet, etc.)!
- What is our absolute maximum budget?
- How far from school are we willing to live?
- How far from clinic are we willing to live?
Type of housing
- Do we want to live in an apartment complex or a house?
Things to check when you tour an apartment:
My roommates and I also had a list of things to check for in the apartments we toured. For us, cleanliness, safety, and accessible parking areas were our main concerns. Ideally, it’s nice to tour the actual unit that you are renting. But, if you’re considering an apartment complex where upperclassmen at your school are currently living, you could ask to tour their apartment. Current tenants will probably be more honest about any issues with the apartment complex than the landlord would be.
- Does the apartment appear clean and well kept?
- Is the paint on the walls peeling?
- Are the carpets stained?
- Are the appliances in working order?
- Is there a lot of outside noise (cars, trains, people, etc.)?
- Do the other tenants in the building seem quiet?
- Is the complex under security surveillance?
- Are the area and building well lit?
- Are there smoke detectors in the units?
- Are there accessible fire extinguishers?
- Are there any leaky faucets?
- How is the water pressure?
- Is there evidence of insects or rodents in the apartment?
- Are there washers and dryers in the units or is there a common laundry area?
- Is there a cost each time you use the washers and dryers?
- Is the parking area accessible?
- Is there an additional fee for a parking permit?
- Are there any amenities available to tenants (workout equipment, pool, tennis courts, etc.)?
- Is there any additional fee for these amenities?
Once you have decided on your apartment, the next step is signing the lease and setting up your move-in date.
My favorite part of the apartment hunt was meeting my roommates in person! We’re all looking forward to moving into our new place and starting optometry school in August. It was also nice to see PCO in the springtime. The flowering trees were just starting to bloom at the time of my visit. This entire year, especially April, May, and June, have flown by. I can’t believe I am just a few months away from starting optometry school.
If you haven’t already, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the “Eyeing the Future” series. Look for my next article on the summer months in the year preceding optometry school very soon. I’ll be sharing my experiences of getting ready to move into my new apartment and other last minute optometry school preparations.