A step-by-step guide on renting a house off-campus

October has finally rolled around and sophomore and junior students are signing leases for homes for next year. Weird? This is just the UVM way.  

Starting in late September, sophomores and juniors begin to house-hunt all over Burlington for their new abode for the upcoming year.

This could be a stressful and nerve wracking process for students going through it for the first time, so here’s a step-by-step guide, leading up to and signing for a place to live in Burlington.


  1. Talk to your parents and start early


 Burlington landlord Ginny Kolbenson echoed this tip and said, “typically, units go on the market mid-September for June of the following year.”

“If your group is committed, and you see what you want, do not wait.  It probably will not be there the next day… units go very quickly,” Kolbenson said.

“First-time renters should really have the conversation with their parents before starting their search,” she said.

“UVM is notorious for kicking third and fourth year students off [campus]… parents are not always aware of this; make sure mom and dad are aware you plan to live off-campus and are on board before starting the search.”

Students like junior Sierra Matika, have one suggestion for students beginning to look for housing: “start early.”

Matika said the one thing she wishes she had done differently was starting earlier.


  1. Know what you want in a home and in a landlord


Kolbenson is just one of many landlords in Burlington and manages about 85 apartments throughout town. She suggests knowing everything you want before starting, from budgets to flooring.

“No two apartments in Burlington are the same” Kolbenson said. “Know what you want in an apartment … and know that sometimes you may have to settle.”

Most of the time you move off-campus, you will not have an organization to go to if you are having issues with where you are living or the people you are living with.

It is important to have a landlord who is professional, “nice and willing to work with you and respond quickly and appropriately to any concerns during the leasing process,” Matika said.

“Our landlord didn’t pressure us to take the apartment and was incredibly informative, honest and responsive [during] the whole process,” senior Antonia Nichols said.

“She didn’t tell us her places were problem-free; she was honest about their flaws which helped us understand her honesty” she said.


  1. Know who you are living with


This may sound self-explanatory, but there are a lot more factors that go into knowing who you are living with than you initially think.

“If renting with friends, make sure you know the people you plan to move in with,” Kolbenson said.

“Do you trust that they will not back out at the last minute, or even after the lease is signed? Do you all have the same thoughts in mind for what you want in an apartment or house?  Can you live with these people for an entire year?”

Different living conditions are a big factor that should be considered in student’s housemate searching process.

“Living with your friends is wonderful, but some friends you live with well, and others maybe you won’t live well with,” Nichols said.

“The friends you live with are closer on a whole different level than friends you just see every day, so choose wisely,” sophomore Maddi Burliss said.

“For other students I would advise thinking about what your priorities are living with a bunch of people, whether it be cleanliness, space, hosting parties [or]quietness,” Burliss said.


  1. Research, research, research

“I was nervous at first about the housing process but also definitely excited to pick where I was going to live because it’s a lot of freedom and choice,” Matika said.

“One of my friends just started sending me links to different houses and it took off from there.

Now I’m mostly just looking at different houses online and contacting owners,” she said.


  1. Relax and go with the flow, it will all work out in the end


The one thing experienced house hunters agree on is how unnecessary worrying and stressing as much as they did their first time was.

“I wouldn’t have worried so much the first time around,” Nichols said. “Don’t get too stressed about any of it because it’s not worth it; you’ll find a place to live.”


  1. Enjoy all of the new experiences and responsibilities


Even though living off-campus is the first real taste of living in the real world and dealing with real-life adult things, there are a lot of exciting parts about living off-campus for the first time.

“The best part of living off-campus is having a semi-adult life with my friends,” Nichols said. “I love having a home that’s mine and we have created for ourselves.”

Simple things that are easily accessible on campus, like food, aren’t as simple when living downtown.

“I think the best and worst part is cooking for yourself,” Matika said. “I love to cook and try to cook new things but it’s totally time consuming.”