Should students rent a house?

Tips and tricks to find off-campus housing


Photo: Kelly Hueckman / The Advance-Titan– Students should consider what they need from their house, roommate, and landlord to get the most out of their lease.

William Brush, Columnist

With the fall season approaching rapidly, UW Oshkosh students seeking to live off campus will have to step up to the plate and sign a lease for the next school year. 

Admittedly, sifting through the multitude of houses and apartments surrounding the UWO campus to find the right one might seem like a daunting task.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be. 

As a veteran tenant of houses in the UWO area, here are the fundamentals of finding the right off-campus housing for you. 

You won’t get everything you want

When looking around for a house to rent, it might seem essential to have a home right by campus, with a two-car garage, a newly remodeled kitchen, spacious bedrooms and a comfortable living room.

Unfortunately, the price tag of your grandiose dream house will be through the roof, and I’m guessing most UWO students won’t exactly have enough financial stability to afford such luxury. 

When researching for your new home, start with the essentials. How many bedrooms do you need? How many bathrooms? Are there any utilities included in the rent? How far away from campus are you willing to go? Are the walls thick enough so you won’t hear your roommates watching a movie at 3 a.m. when you’re trying to get some sleep before your 8 a.m. class?

Once you create a list of necessities, add a few things you might like but aren’t essential. This could include a garage or a spacious backyard. 

It’s important to keep this in mind: this house isn’t a forever home.

It’s not going to be perfect, and you certainly won’t find anything within your budget if you have a list of essentials a mile long. Keep the list short and simple. 

Finding the right roommates: the three-question test

Let’s face the facts: many of us would prefer to live alone. Alas, due to financial constraints, most students will have to live with roommates when renting a house. 

When finding the correct roommate, there are many factors you may want to consider. When assessing potential roommates, I recommend considering these three questions. 

First, is this person considerate of others? 

This question generalizes more specific criteria you might want in a candidate. For example, if an applicant is considerate of others, they will be more likely to be willing to clean up around the house or keep the noise down after 11 p.m. 

Second, do I like this person? 

In other words, can I interact with this person daily without wanting to strangle them? If a roommate annoys you every time you talk to them, it’s going to be a long school year for you. 

Third, is this person financially stable? 

Being able to pay rent and utilities on time is a requirement of all tenants. If a roommate has financial trouble, it can create problems with your landlord and put a strain on the relationship between everyone in the household. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to have fantastic roommates throughout multiple houses in Oshkosh. Follow the three-question evaluation and it’ll set you on the right path to finding an optimal roommate. 

Not all landlords are equal

A landlord can either make or break your off-campus housing experience at UWO. 

Desirable qualities of a landlord might include: quality communication skills, quick response time to fix broken appliances and general disrepair, good integrity and the ability to accept multiple forms of payment for rent.

However, how are tenants supposed to assess a landlord before they sign a lease?

From personal experience, the best way to gain insight into a prospective landlord is to ask UWO students who have experience as tenants. Perhaps bring it up in a conversation before or after class, or maybe during a meal in Reeve Union. 

In addition, online reviews can provide discernment about landlords and the property management companies they work for. 

From recent personal experience, I can tell you that having an unreliable and lazy landlord is more of a headache than most realize. Finding a satisfactory landlord should be a prerequisite for all UWO students seeking off-campus accommodation. 

Finally, never sell yourself short when signing a lease.

Compromise is a must when it comes to finding a home on a budget, but it doesn’t mean you should be unhappy with the house you’ve selected or the roommates you’ve chosen.

Besides, you can always resort to campus housing if needed. I’m sure UWO would love to take your money. 

For more information about off-campus housing at UWO, visit