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When searching for a place to live, it’s important for students to consider what factors are most important to them.

With the fall months fast approaching, many students are already looking for apartments and preparing to sign a lease. However, many may be completely unfamiliar with the wide-varieties of off-campus housing options. Making the drastic decision of where to live can be extremely challenging when it’s unclear what to look for. 

For most college students with nothing but pennies in their wallets, price is likely a factor of the utmost importance when house-hunting. In Harrisonburg, apartments are on average just over $548. Stonegate, which is one of three of the Hills apartment complexes just off-campus, is one of the cheapest places to live, all things considered. Totaling in at about $487 a month per roommate for a four-bed, four-and-a-half bath, it’s already a great price, but Stonegate also comes with all utilities included and is fully furnished. Stonegate also offers a free parking pass and free usage of a community gym. However, for some students, different and greater amenities might be more important. 

The Retreat is a JMU favorite location to live off campus. Although The Retreat is titled as an “apartment complex,” the units are much more like townhouses — and they’re brand new. The amenities are the real attraction of The Retreat, listed on their website as being “luxurious.” A pool, a tanning center, a fitness room and a disc golf course are only some of many unique aspects The Retreat offers. However, the downside to this complex is the price. Not only can units be as expensive as $652 per roommate, some utilities aren’t even included, some hefty first-time deposits are required and it comes unfurnished.

Maybe for some off-campus students, location is an important feature. The Hills apartments, which consist of Northview, Southview and Stonegate complexes, are all relatively close to campus. Northview is practically visible from campus and only $419 a month, with some utilities not included. Foxhill Townhomes are also a decent walk from campus, with rent around $450 and all amenities included. 

Pricing and distance aside, online reviews and talks with current residents are also important factors in deciding where to live off campus. While the advice of online reviewers is appreciated, it should also be heeded with some caution. This is because customers of any service are more likely to leave negative reviews than positive ones — humans spend more time analyzing and talking about a bad situation than a good one. For example, it’d be more likely that someone would complain in an online review about losing money than about getting a discount and saving money. 

When searching for a place to live, it’s important for students to consider what factors are most important to them. If money is the main contention, hunt for apartments based on low to high pricing. If a student is without a car, searching for complexes where it’d be easy to walk or bike to campus could be beneficial. Whatever the case, trust that with the right amount of research, the perfect place to live will be found. 

Josie Haneklau is a sophomore political science and psychology double major. Contact Josie at hanekljr@dukes.jmu.edu.