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5 Tips For Finding Off-Campus Housing at CU Boulder

5 Tips For Finding Off-Campus Housing at CU Boulder


At CU Boulder making the move from the dorms to off-campus housing is both an exciting and overwhelming time. There are so many different options to consider including: when to start searching, where to live in Boulder, who to rent from, what kind of house/apartment to live in, and who to live with. It’s a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly as it will affect your next year of school immensely. Follow these tips for finding the perfect off-campus housing situation for your next year at CU Boulder!

1. Start Searching for Housing ASAP

One of the most important parts of securing yourself a great living situation off-campus is to start looking early! There are usually two different kinds of rental agreements that landlords give out: monthly or yearly. Most will choose yearly so that they don’t have to deal with the scramble of filling their vacant units when students move out. So many places will come onto the market around the same time because it becomes a cycle of students moving out and new students moving in in a small amount of time. The grace period can be very short so if you see a place you like — don’t hesitate! Give that landlord a call and see if it’s available and when you can go check it out. Sometimes you’ll be able to find good places the longer you wait because like said it all depends when the previous tenant’s contract runs out. But don’t put it off because you think it will just show up one day. You need to be proactive in order to find a place with affordable rent and that works well for you, and your roommates if you have them. Start looking early so you don’t find yourself living in a bad housing situation!


2. Where To Live in Boulder? – University Hill

Boulder is a big city and the CU Boulder campus is basically right in the middle of it. Thus, there are many options for where to live off-campus, of course depending on your situation. If you have your own car then there are many more options for you as you can drive to campus — although, this can be tough when the snow really hits and the roads are dangerous to drive on. All students are given bus cards though so the option of the bus, or the buff bus which is free for students as well, is open to you as well if necessary. The most popular location for students to live off-campus is University Hill, the Hill, located to the West of CU Boulder campus. It houses the majority of the fraternity/sorority houses as well as many students. For popularity alone, it runs on the pricier side in terms of rent without a guaranteed nicer house or apartment. However, with such a short distance the commute to campus and back is quick and can be fun to possibly see your friends or stop by one of the great food places on the Hill right next to Broadway. There’s a mix of houses and apartments that can suit your needs as a college student but one thing to always remember is the Hill does not just house students. Many Boulder residents such as older adults and families live on University Hill and commonly don’t take kindly to loud and obnoxious student neighbors. Try to ask either the landlord showing you the place or the previous tenants, if possible, who the neighbors are and how they respond to students. Of course, if you’re a quiet, well-mannered student who doesn’t like playing music loudly or anything of the sort then you don’t need to worry. But the rest of us obnoxious Buffs who enjoy playing some loud music every once in a while need to be cautious of our neighbors so as to not get a noise complaint called on us. Besides the Hill, Boulder also has various rental properties surrounding the campus, however, you won’t find quite the same college neighbor experience. To the south-east of CU Boulder campus is the Bear Creek Apartments which is also a popular place for older students to move into after their time in the dorms. No matter where you live you’ll have a great time you just need to be cautious of your neighbors, the commute to campus, and how much you are willing to spend on rent every month.     

3. Rent from Private Owners

Surrounding CU Boulder are many possible living situations from entire houses to apartments. The number of choices can be a bit daunting so make sure to take your time doing the proper research and discussion among you and your roommates before making any final decision. Ralphie’s List can be a good resource to start from or even the Off-Campus Housing Resource offered by CU Boulder. Basically, when choosing who to rent from for the year there are a few choices. There are big realty companies such as Four Star on the Hill and there are private property owners who rent out their home. There are pros and cons to both that should be considered. Big realty companies are usually going to be an easier experience with quick showings and lease signings. However, you’d also be at risk of leasing higher rented properties with sometimes slow responding representatives and you’ll likely be subject to losing a fair share of your initial security deposit so they can “repair” your leased unit — as in new paint, new carpet, new stove and anything else they feel like replacing. The other option is finding a private property owner and signing a rental agreement with them. The benefits of this are that you can sometimes find a lower-priced unit and likely won’t be losing a majority of your security deposit to “repairs.” It’s not impossible, but it’s less likely as the rental agreement you sign with a private owner is usually more simple (like 20 pages simpler) than a rental agreement with a big property management company. Private owners are usually much more responsive to repairs or concerns about the property and as long as you’re honest and quick to bring their attention to it then they won’t be charging you for problems that you weren’t the cause of. At the end of the day, the most important piece of advice is that you read through your rental agreement thoroughly! Ask your parents or siblings for advice if certain things seem fishy. Don’t be pushed around because you’re “just a student.” You deserve a fair and good living situation just as much as anyone else!

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4. Try to Rent Entire Houses over Apartments

CU Boulder has few different options for kinds of living situations to look for off-campus. Depending on how many roommates you’re looking to have: there can be full house rentals, units inside houses, and apartments. It all comes down to how many roommates you plan on having as well as your limit for paying rent. Apartments and units inside big houses will usually give you a cheaper price for rent, however, you may be sharing a room or in a smaller place in general. Entire houses can be a great situation for having your own room and big common living room to hang out but keeping your privacy. However, it will be pricier and more difficult to find but you’ll be much happier than cramped into a small apartment or sharing a room.

5. Choose Roommates Carefully

The final piece of advice for choosing off-campus housing at CU Boulder is to choose carefully who you live with. Living with someone will truly show you what kind of person they are. Sometimes friends just aren’t meant to live together because they just differ too much in these regards. If you’re a clean person who hates things messy and dirty then obviously you don’t want to live with someone who is the opposite. Someone who rarely does dishes or picks up after themself and generally leaves rooms much messier and dirtier than they found them. Constantly arguing over “my personal right to be dirty” and “being dirty affects everyone around you” can cause big rifts in friendships. If possible, avoid putting yourself in these situations so you don’t have to live in a stressful and conflict-filled house. But also don’t forget that living with someone is a compromise. Some of you have never really lived with someone besides your family, or your freshman year roommate, and are unsure of how the dynamic is supposed to work. Essentially it comes down to working together, being open to doing your part in cleaning the place, and not getting upset when someone wants you to help out. Choose roommates you can work with to keep the place clean but also can spend nights and weekends hanging out and enjoying each other’s company. 


Have any additional tips for finding off-campus housing at CU Boulder or other colleges? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured image from @cuboulderliving