by: Jo Montgomery
Chicago is a major U.S. city that feels like home whether you live there or are just visiting. It’s hard to put your finger on it, but from the moment you arrive, you seem to fit right in. That’s because this bold and exciting city embodies true Midwestern hospitality. Along with an awesome vibe, Chicago is home to the first name in improv and comedy, The Second City. It’s also home to the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the top five museums in the world; a variety of championship sports teams; five Tony Award-winning theaters. And that’s the short list!
Dozens of celebrated colleges and universities also call the Chicago area home – like The University of Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Lake Forest College. Education is one of the driving industries in Chicago and the city is mighty proud of it.
If you’re a student or faculty member of a local college or university, and you’re tired of on-campus housing, you have choices – a wonderfully varied selection of Chicago apartment communities. Apartment living offers comforts and conveniences on-campus housing just can’t, like more privacy, superior amenities, and fewer restrictions. Could it be time to trade your dorm room key for an apartment key?
Why apartment living in Chicago beats on-campus housing
No one will argue that privacy is scarce on a university campus. It’s also something an apartment can afford you. Even if you choose to have a roommate in an apartment, you’ll most likely have your own room. With that room comes a door that you can shut to give yourself some much-needed alone time.
Contrary to what you may think, apartments can be cheaper than dorms. The reason is that dorms require you to pay for room and board. The fee can include additional costs like food, laundry services, utilities, and more. In an apartment, you only pay for what you use.
Dorms offer bare-boned amenities if any at all. Most apartments offer many features and amenities that you just won’t find in a dorm. And in addition to the basics, many apartments offer amenities like swimming pools, fitness centers, community areas, and more.
On-campus housing is usually overseen by a Resident Advisor and comes with a host of specific rules you have to adhere to. Although these rules are in place to keep you safe, they can be restrictive and, well, annoying. Apartments don’t impose those types of limitations on your lifestyle.
You choose who you live with
With your own apartment, you get to choose your roommate. That means no more random room assignments. You can live with people you choose to live with, and actually enjoy being around.
What to Look for in an apartment near Chicago colleges and universities
Start by looking at proximity to campus, transportation options and amenities. It goes without saying that you want to find an apartment close to school or work. And part of the beauty of living in Chicago is that it has an impressive public transportation system – you don’t even need a car if you’d rather skip the hassle.
Windsor Communities has 3 luxury apartments conveniently located throughout Chicago. They’re close to public transportation and offer convenient access to shopping, restaurants, and parks. Most of our communities are pet-friendly and feature fully equipped gyms and a pool. Many offer amenities like rooftop lounges, bike storage, and electric vehicle charging stations. And we’ve taken it one step further, making many of our newer buildings green.
Things to consider when looking for an apartment in Chicago
Start looking early
In cities chock full of higher education institutions, rentals go fast. If you’re looking for an apartment to move into in September, start looking right after your school’s graduation the previous spring. This is when many apartments will open up due to the mass exodus of graduating seniors. If you’re looking for an apartment to move into at the beginning of the spring semester, start your search in the fall.
Get to know the neighborhood
A perfect way to kick off your search is by driving or walking around the neighborhood – and nearby neighborhoods. You’ll quickly get a feel for which ones you would be comfortable living in and which ones you should avoid.
Stick to your budget
As uncomfortable as it may be, it is absolutely essential to establish a budget before you start your search. And as tempting as it may be to stretch that budget and get the apartment with more square footage, it will only bring you headaches in the long run.
Create a checklist
Spend some time thinking about what you want and need in an apartment. There’s a difference. What are your absolute “must have’s” that you’re not willing to compromise on? For example, you might need a certain number of bedrooms, while you might want a walk-in closet. See the difference? Go ahead and actually create the list so that you can refer to it as you look at apartments and see how many boxes each apartment checks off.
It’s also a good idea to make a list of questions to ask potential landlords – questions like “Are utilities included in the rent?”, “Are pets allowed?”, and “How much is the down payment?”
Look at the whole community
You’ll be looking most closely at the individual apartment you’re touring, but don’t forget to take the time to look at the entire apartment community as a whole. Be aware of how the community is maintained inside and out. Is the wallpaper peeling or is there a musty odor? Are the shrubs and lawn being maintained? Chances are if the community is not well cared for, neither are the residents. Don’t let a cute apartment cause you to overlook important warning signs.
Read Resident Reviews
Talk to residents and potential neighbors when you’re touring the community. They will, usually, tell it like it is. And that’s just what you want. To get more information, search online for reviews. Residents at Windsor Communities post their reviews on the Windsor website.
Be ready to put down a deposit, fill out an application or sign a lease
It’s a good rule of thumb to always bring your checkbook. If the market is competitive and you find a place you love, you should be prepared to put down a deposit.
Also, have the necessary information handy to fill out an application or sign a lease, including:
• Social Security number
• Previous rental history
• Pay stub or bank records to show proof of income
• Your credit score (If you don’t have a credit score yet, you may need a cosigner.)
• Personal references