If you are a new undergraduate student, you are probably living in a residence hall. Our office staff will bring you directly from the bus station to the residence hall. The dorms are open early to accommodate international students. Please note that there is no bedding provided upon arrival so please bring a minimum of $30-$50 US Dollar cash with you to purchase bedding, basic supplies and food for the first few nights in the dorm. For summer and fall arrivals, you can wait for a couple of months before purchasing a heavier blanket immediately.
The OIP recommends that international students live on campus for at least the first two years (undergraduate students) or one semester (graduate students) because it is the best way to meet American students and adjust to the U.S. Many students opt to live in Brandt Hall because it is open during break periods; however, you may live in another hall and find a friend’s room to stay in during breaks. Make sure you pay attention to the rules about the length of stay in residence halls and requirements for break housing, such as completing forms and picking up new keys BEFORE the deadline. In general it is necessary to move out after your exams are finished. Your RA (resident assistant) will help to explain other rules, and the Office of Residential Life (in Kretzmann Hall, phone 464-5413) will also be happy to help you. You can also check their website for further details: http://www.valpo.edu/reslife/.
You may want to live off-campus for dietary or other reasons; however, if you are under 22, you must file a petition with the Housing Office to do so. Do not sign the off-campus ‘lease’ before you are ‘released’ from on campus by res-life. There are several apartment complexes around campus, and many houses are divided into apartments. When you seek an apartment, make sure it meets your needs and that you can meet your obligations for rent and damages.
Searching for an Apartment
It is best to start by asking your friends if they know of an opening. Many times, other students are looking for roommates or renters. This “word-of-mouth” method is usually best. The Graduate School website maintains a list of apartments for rent: www.valpo.edu/grad/assets/docs/housing.pdf. The Times and The Torch newspapers also carry “classified” listings of places to rent. The phone book has agencies listed under “Apartments” (in the yellow pages), which rent apartments. Finally, you may see “For Rent” signs on houses near campus.
Choosing an Apartment
When you find some good possibilities, call the landlord or rental agency and ask about the location and cost. If you find the rent to be reasonable, set up an appointment to see the apartment. Ask to see the actual apartment, not a “model”. Is the apartment clean and ready for immediate occupancy? Think of some questions you want to ask ahead of time, such as the cost of utilities and length of lease. Do not sign the lease right away-- give yourself some time to think about it.
Questions to Ask
Here are some questions to ask the landlord and yourself:
After asking about the length of the lease, find out when the rent is due and how it is to be paid. Ask about the security deposit (usually it is equal to one month’s rent), and find out what it covers and how much you will get back. Ask what the conditions are if you break the lease, or if your landlord breaks the lease. Remember, once you sign the lease, you are responsible for adhering to its terms, so take your time and get advice on it if needed. DO NOT LEASE apartments for friends, as they may back out and you will be stuck with the lease. Again, do not sign the off-campus ‘lease’ before you are ‘released’ from on campus by res-life.
Insurance and Safety
Your landlord will most likely not have insurance to cover your personal belongings. It is not necessary to have renters insurance, but you may want to buy your own policy if you own expensive things (computer equipment, etc). Short of insurance, it is always a good policy to rent an apartment that is kept in good condition and can be secured with good locks. Use common sense in not overloading circuits with too many electrical appliances, turning them off when not in use, and remember to lock your door whenever you leave. It is useful to know your escape route in case of fire, and to keep a list of emergency numbers next to the phone. Prices range from $100-$150 for a year, depending on deductible, which over 12 months, is about $8-$12 a month.
Keep your apartment in good shape, and report any broken features to your manager right away. Try to keep it clean. Any change in tenants should be reported to the landlord, such as when you change roommates or sub-lease the apartment to someone else. Short-term visitors are okay. Be respectful of your neighbor’s rights to quiet, cleanliness, etc. Your American neighbors may not understand some of the things you do or may feel uncomfortable in approaching you. If you are patient and courteous, most problems between neighbors can be easily solved.