As a freshman, I thought it would be wise to spend my first year living in the dorms on campus. Despite my less than pleasant experiences, it was beneficial. I learned the layout of the school, figured out what the parking was like (without dealing with it myself) and generally grew more accustomed with the place I had chosen to spend the next four years of my life. However, I had no desire to make my stay in the dorms permanent. It was cramped, less than ideal and in no way close to what I wanted out of my first time living on my own.
Like many other students in my situation, I started looking into somewhere to stay for the coming fall. There’s this really crazy phenomenon in Tallahassee where apartments will start offering leases for the fall in November. Which means, viably, if you want a nice place to stay, you should start looking in October. At that point, I had only been in town a few months, and had no understanding as to why I would want to sign more papers to move into a place where I would be sharing slightly more space with people I probably wasn’t going to end up liking.
In my case, I ended up deciding to room with my best friend from my hometown. We knew that living together was going to be better for us both, and that we were close enough to do so, but also mature enough to know that living together wouldn’t ruin our friendship. She, unlike me, had lived off campus her freshman year. Having suffered through the apartment lifestyle, we both decided it wasn’t something we wanted to do.
Tallahassee is an amazing area. You have three huge college campuses within 20 miles of each other, and a state capital, all rolled together. But you also have residential areas, high schools, daycares—all kinds of places that make a town a town. More than just a college town, Tallahassee is the home of many people. And for us, that was what we wanted. If we were going to be spending at least three more years in Tallahassee, wouldn’t we want a permanent place to stay? A place to make our own, to decorate and design, without having to worry about a security deposit for ruining some furniture, or moving out again to find a new place?
We were looking for a home. A house. Apartments seem like the correct option in college. It’s what everyone does. But it wasn’t what we wanted. We didn’t want to spend an individual $900 a month for rent, only to have the same size space as a dorm room, just with our own bathrooms and a kitchen. We didn’t want to save money by adding in two or three more people that we didn’t know. That idea wasn’t appealing. We had heard horror stories of management issues, rowdy neighbors, flooding issues—the list goes on. The lack of personality in an apartment, combined with the turnover rate and astronomically high rent for nothing was revolting.
We got really lucky with our house, and I won’t deny that. We did a lot of waiting, continuous watching and praying, stalking listings and hoping that something right would work out. House hunting is not easy, definitely not as easy as apartment shopping. But being able to have an extra room, without an extra person, or a huge backyard and no pet restrictions was something that was worth it to us.
Apartments are for some people. Signing a lease on a house is another. When you decide, be it your freshman, sophomore, junior or senior year to live off campus, simply consider all your options. An apartment can be a start, and you may love it. But only a house can be a home. And home? Home is where the heart is.