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Writer Joanna Sommer says to consider the living arrangements before hopping on the best deal.

Within the next few months, local apartment and townhouse complexes will begin offering cheaper rent if students sign within a certain amount of time. Though the deals are tempting and can save people money, it doesn’t provide potential residents much time to pick where to live or who live with. The deals may be heavily advertised, but there will always be other options for reasonably priced off-campus housing throughout the year. It’s OK to not sign for them as soon as they’re announced. 

It may be more beneficial to wait until later in the year before signing, depending on one’s current living situation. Throughout college, everyone is constantly being introduced to new people. Oftentimes, the first people freshmen interact with are their roommates, suitemates and hallmates. For some, their freshman year roommates end up being their next door neighbors for the entirety of their time spent at JMU. A powerful bond is formed, and those who have that know they wouldn’t want to live with anyone else.

For others, this isn’t always the situation. The reality is, things happen. Friends fight, students transfer, and once a lease is signed, it’s difficult to break. Signing a lease so early in the school year means that if something goes wrong, the living situation could become messy. Between having to be responsible for filling empty rooms, making up for the lost rent or having bad blood between roommates, the risks run high when signing a lease early.

There’s nothing wrong with one’s first-year roommates not being their roommates for the next few years. As students, we’re constantly getting involved in different ways on campus. Whether it’s through clubs, Greek life, work or other on-campus opportunities, everyone finds their one true pair some way. If one signs a lease as early as possible, they eliminate the option of living with someone they may have a stronger connection to.

Even if someone has found the people they’re closest to, it doesn’t mean they’ll be the best suited roommate for them. There’s a difference between living with a close group of friends and living with people because they’re a compatible living partner. It’s important to know the living habits of each roommate. Do they prefer the thermostat to be set to a certain temperature? Are they messy or organized? How late do they stay up each night? These are important factors to consider, because although roommates don’t always get along, there’s a difference between a few altercations and having a miserable year because of constant disputes.

When hunting for the best place to live, it’s also important to set aside what places are considered “popular” and do what’s best for all of the roommates. Just because some complexes are deemed superior to others doesn’t make them the only option. It’s beneficial for the entire party to do research on several units instead of jumping on the first one that’s favored because each place has its own rules and guidelines. If one roommate is looking to have a pet, do research and find where the best pet-friendly options are. Location, distance from campus, visitor accommodations and parking passes are all factors that can significantly determine if somewhere is worth living. 

Consider the living arrangements before hopping on the best deal. Some may know in their heart that they have their roommates and are ready to find their new home, but others may want to wait and see if they make new friends or find roommates who have similar living accommodations as them. This is ultimately a safer and smarter decision because there’s more thought and consideration that goes into it instead of jumping at the first advertised deals.

Joanna Sommer is a sophomore media arts and design major. Contact her at sommerjj@dukes.jmu.edu.