The First Year Housing Frenzy Begins

As September winds down, many newly minted Wahoos are already scrambling to make housing plans for next year.

“The whole process is really intense,” said first year Tommy Snead. “I’m just starting to get acclimated to UVa and I already have to think about getting an apartment.”

While students do not have to commit to on-grounds housing until January, many off-grounds apartments require students to sign leases as early as September.

Photo courtesy UVa Housing & Residence Life
Photo courtesy UVa Housing & Residence Life

One such place is Camden Plaza, whose rent renewal deadline takes place at the end of this month. If renters do not opt to renew their leases, new tenants are accepted on a first come, first serve basis. According to first year Wynne Barsanti, this has caused students to actually camp outside the leasing building overnight.

“The first thing that they told me on my apartment tour was that some students are willing to do whatever it takes to get these rooms,” said Barsanti. “The sad part is that camping overnight almost seems worth it to me.”

“Hearing stories like [Camden] makes people without plans feel like they’re behind the curve,” added Snead.

UVa administration is aware of the plight of first years. In an e-mail sent to parents and students, Dean Allen Groves did his best to assuage housing fears.

“External marketing efforts and word-of-mouth among students have created a false sense of urgency to sign a lease for off-Grounds housing,” the opening paragraph read. “In truth, there is no shortage of available apartments in the Charlottesville area.”

The rest of the email detailed what students should look for in apartments and outlined the benefits of on-grounds housing. In addition, the UVa Housing & Residence Life Department offered housing seminars to inform students of their options.

Countess Hughes, Assistant Director of Assignments for the department, offered this advice: “Make sure you know exactly what you are signing before you sign a legally binding lease that obligates you until 2018.” She added that Student Legal Services at UVa is available to review leases.

Even those students who have some ideas about where to live next year are scrambling to find roommates.

“It is harder than finding a first-year roommate,” Barsanti said. “We have to be able to make lots of decisions together, which is something that we do not really have to do in dorm life.”

For those who are thinking about living with their best friends, Hughes said that the most important factor is communication ability.

“Regardless of the person, students need to make sure that there is clear communication regarding expectations, like paying bills, hosting guests, cleaning, sharing of items.”

While many first years find the housing process stressful, upperclassmen remind them that there is plenty of room to live in Charlottesville for everyone.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here