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Finding An Apartment and Roommate While Out of State


a.s.
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Hello! Apologies if this has been asked before, I didn't see a thread with this specific question. I was wondering how people go about looking for an apartment and roommate while living out of state? I am assuming it is best to go a month or to ahead and look in person, but I've only ever lived in on-campus housing so I have no idea. I will be moving to Philadelphia if that helps. Any tips are appreciated.

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@a.s. I have a lot of apps on my iPhone for looking for apartments:

  • Trulia Rentals
  • HotPads
  • Zillow Rentals
  • Rent.com
  • Zumper
  • apartment list (Apartments & Houses for Rent)
  • Realtor.com
  • Apartments.com Rentals
  • PadMapper

Sometimes schools have a website where they help students find off-campus housing and/or roommates. You will want to find out if your school has that. Good luck!

Edited by Moods
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This is a great question to ask current graduate students either over a visit or email. They can (usually) give you a good idea of neighborhoods/complexes you can afford on your stipend and if anyone in the department is subletting/looking for a roommate/knows of openings at their place.

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9 hours ago, historygeek said:

I'm in the same boat (including moving to Philadelphia)! Following. 

As a recent Villanova alum (which is where I gather you're going, based on your signature), I recommend reaching out to Home Properties of Bryn Mawr, an apartment complex nearby the school.  So many Villanova students live there (mostly seniors, who are forced to live off-campus) that the University runs a shuttle there between the hours of 8 am and 9 pm.  While I'm not sure they have a list of people looking for roommates, they should be able to point you in the right direction; one of the administrators in particular is extraordinarily helpful, although I forget her name.

It's a bit pricy compared to most places of the country, but the Main Line is going to be expensive no matter what, and it is close to the Norristown High Speed Line.

 

If you have any questions about the area, feel free to PM me!  Not only did I go to Nova, I was also a History major as well!

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10 minutes ago, ImperatorGryphon said:

As a recent Villanova alum (which is where I gather you're going, based on your signature), I recommend reaching out to Home Properties of Bryn Mawr, an apartment complex nearby the school.  So many Villanova students live there (mostly seniors, who are forced to live off-campus) that the University runs a shuttle there between the hours of 8 am and 9 pm.  While I'm not sure they have a list of people looking for roommates, they should be able to point you in the right direction; one of the administrators in particular is extraordinarily helpful, although I forget her name.

It's a bit pricy compared to most places of the country, but the Main Line is going to be expensive no matter what, and it is close to the Norristown High Speed Line.

 

If you have any questions about the area, feel free to PM me!  Not only did I go to Nova, I was also a History major as well!

That's awesome! Small 'site! :) I had vaguely heard of Bryn Mawr, so that's awesome information. I have seen that the Main Line area is pretty expensive and that the city proper is a bit more reasonable, but I'm hoping that I can get a decent deal with a roommate. 

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I found my apartment through the online classifieds of a local paper, so that may be an option that fewer people would think of nowadays in the age of apps, which may lower the competition. Also, I know there can be lots of scams, but I got a previous apartment through craigslist. 

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I've found a group where people sublease and they said they usually Skype/FaceTime to see the apartment. This is cheaper because I don't have to travel to view and again to move in but I'm a bit nervous about getting a place that seems ok over FaceTime/photos but isn't so great in person. Anyone pick a place without seeing it in person first?

@historygeek I was given a list of areas to check out if you're interested. Most are a bit out of my price range but it's still helpful. 

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Unless you absolutely cannot see the place in person, I would strongly recommend never signing any sort of lease or contract without physically seeing a place. I've gone apartment hunting numerous times, and the pictures are not always what they seem. Also, the surrounding area of the apartment is important to. You don't want to get to the place and realize "close to mass transit" means a 30 minute walk or that the apartment is in an unsafe area that skeeves you out, or the roommate is a little off, etc. 

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On 2/25/2019 at 8:54 PM, historygeek said:

That's awesome! Small 'site! :) I had vaguely heard of Bryn Mawr, so that's awesome information. I have seen that the Main Line area is pretty expensive and that the city proper is a bit more reasonable, but I'm hoping that I can get a decent deal with a roommate. 

I went to Bryn Mawr and my friends and I lived off campus for a while. We’ve had lots of luck in the past finding smallish but nice apartments above businesses on Lancaster Ave. You can get away from undergrads, and get a decent 1 bedroom for under $1200. Probably more affordable with a roommate, but the proper apartment buildings in the area are so saturated with undergrads (or the ones with older people are too pricey for grad students), that you’ll probably want to get a bit away from that. 

And the SEPTA train is pretty accessible from most of the mainline cities, so wouldn’t be crazy to find a place in Ardmore or another town a few train stops down from campus and commute. Totally doable. 

Edit: also, low-key, Bryn Mawr college owns entire apartments in some of the buildings by campus and rent them out only to TriCo students (probs at an up charge), so I’d avoid those buildings if I were you, like Mermont.

Edited by swarthmawr
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On 2/27/2019 at 6:04 PM, PsyDGrad90 said:

Unless you absolutely cannot see the place in person, I would strongly recommend never signing any sort of lease or contract without physically seeing a place. I've gone apartment hunting numerous times, and the pictures are not always what they seem. Also, the surrounding area of the apartment is important to. You don't want to get to the place and realize "close to mass transit" means a 30 minute walk or that the apartment is in an unsafe area that skeeves you out, or the roommate is a little off, etc. 

This is a really good point. It sounds like it would be worth spending the money on travel and a hotel to check it out rather than hoping something I find online works out. Easier than having to move a few months later because of any of those issues. Thanks!

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