Today’s article was written by Antonio Chirumbolo, a SUNY 2013′ student and an OptometryStudents.com dedicated writer and team member. This is Part 1 of 2 yet it pertains mostly to SUNY students yet the principles can be applied at ANY Optometry school.
You have made your final decision on where to spend the next four years of your life. And then it hits you.
“Where am I going to live?”
Finding housing for Optometry can be exciting, stressful, and frustrating all at the same time. Housing is something that we all undoubtedly think about, far in advance. This is both good and bad. Although this article will be tailored for SUNY and finding housing in New York, I will undoubtedly share some tips and advice that can be universally applied to finding housing no matter what Optometry School you are attending.
You want to consider these essentials:
Live alone or with roommates, and if so, who and how many?
This is highly a matter of preference. When it comes down to money however, it is no doubt more beneficial to have a roommate or two. Having roommates to share costs will certainly be better economically for you. There is always the fear of finding a roommate you do not get along with, creating a miserable living experience. This is why it is imperative that you spend ample time searching for the perfect roommates(s). I personally suggest you find a roommate who if not a classmate, attends school of some kind. It is quite difficult to live with someone who has nothing but free time after 5pm every day when your night of studying is only beginning at that time. Get to know your classmates, utilize any services, such as housing questionnaires that your school may organize to find the perfect roommates(s) who you know will match up well with you.
Where to live?
It is essential to consider location, proximity to the subway/public transportation, and of course, costs. Before deciding on a place to live, you need to determine how much you are willing to spend. If you only want to spend 650$ a month, you should not waste any of your time looking in Manhattan (although, there are some 6 x 8 spaces available for that much). Set your spending limits and then proceed from there. Most people cannot afford to live walking distance to school, at least not in NYC. Many people who live in Manhattan still commute anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes to school. There are places in Queens that offer a 20 minute commute for much less, so it is important to consider if the idea of merely living in Manhattan is really worth the price of admission. Regardless, if you are going to be commuting to school each day, it is a good idea to live close to the subway. This can drastically cut down on commute time. If you need to walk 15 minutes to the subway each day, your commute can be quite miserable, especially in the rain and snow.
Sure, it may be cheaper to live in areas that are considered unsafe, but do you really want to have any overwhelming anxiety walking home from the subway at night, or even during the day? Choose location wisely.
It is considerably cheaper in NYC to live outside of Manhattan and into the surrounding boroughs such as Queens. At the same time, you do not want to live so far out, that it takes you over an hour to get to school. Yes, some people do indeed choose this option, but in most cases, it is because they are living at home with their families. In the grand scheme of things, an hour commute to school cannot only be miserable, but can really reduce time management. Time management is key in Optometry School. You do not want to waste hours and hours standing on the subway each day just because you got a great deal on housing. Some students are able to study on the metro; however, this is much more difficult if you are not able to have a seat to sit in which is usually the case. A commute anywhere up to 35 minutes but no more than 35 minutes is highly encouraged.
Just an FYI: 30 day unlimited metro passes in NYC are $89/month.
What kind of apartments?
“You get what you pay for” is relevant in this circumstance. If you want a bedroom that is 14’ by 14’ with a spacious balcony overlooking the city on the 18th floor of a high rise, well then be prepared to pay for it. Rent in NYC can range anywhere from 700$ a month to over 3000$ and up. It is all a matter of your economic capacity.
These are a few things to consider:
Grocery stores: It is very easy in NYC to find a grocery store that delivers groceries to your house for free or a small fee. Regardless, it is a good idea to find an apartment close to a grocery store. The last thing you want to do is have to carry grocery bags several blocks home, or even worse, bring your groceries onto the metro.
Laundry: Make sure you live close to a Laundromat, or better yet, ensure your building has machines you can use. Yes, many people do not have laundry machines in their buildings, but in my own humble opinion, I cannot stress enough how convenient it is to toss your clothes into a laundry machine and leave. It will save you time and even money if your landlord charges reasonable fees. You can expect anywhere from $1.50 to $2.00 per wash and likewise to dry.
Utilities: Most apartments, at least apartments outside of Manhattan, usually include utilities such as gas, heat, and water in the rent, with the tenant being responsible for electric. It is ideal for your rent to include as many utilities as possible. If the tenant is responsible for all utilities, your rent can be significantly higher than expected. For example, my roommate and I pay on average $40.00 per month ($20 each) for electric. In the summer months, we use air conditioning and our monthly bill averages around $100. (On a side note, we do not have television, so if you are powering a TV, your electric bill will likely be higher.) This is the only utility that we are responsible for.
A few things to look for:
Make sure you are aware if your heat is fueled by water, electricity or gas. It is imperative to have your heat fueled by a utility that is covered by the landlord. Otherwise, you could be facing a hefty bill in the winter months.
Whether you are responsible for water costs or not, it is good practice to report any water leaks to your landlord so the problem can be fixed appropriately. Not only may it save you money if you are responsible for water usage, but it is also common courtesy for the benefit of the landlord as well as good for the environment.
Antonio’s next article will discuss exactly HOW to find housing in NYC and will break down step by step what Antonio and his classmates did to find great housing!