The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

    For Rent: House-hunting in Chicago

    Looking for off-campus housing for next year? Perhaps you have outgrown dorm life with its RA’s and strict policies. At the same time, you may feel as if you have been thrown to the wolves when seeking apartments.

    The system is tricky and there is only a small window of time in which you must find a suitable apartment in a decent location that fits your budget. The hunting process, as we know, is tedious. Sure, you get the opportunity to meet with your realtor and peruse the apartment. But too bad there is no “sleepover” program that landlords offer, since the flaws only emerge once you have regretfully signed the contract for a year. Follow these steps to land a decent home and make the hunting an exciting conquest rather than a stressful burden.


    Step 1: Beginning the house hunt

    The first step in finding an apartment is knowing when to look. Searching at the right time will maximize your options and give you a higher success rate at finding the right apartment. Follow these guidelines to help you know when to start looking.

    Right away

    If you’re looking to stay here this summer, you’ll likely need a July 1 start date to your lease. If you haven’t already, start looking right away.


    If you want to split your summer at home and in Chicago, an Aug. 1 start date is ideal. Certain apartments have already begun leasing for this date, but you essentially have till the end of June. If you want a head start, begin looking now.

    You got time

    The Sept. 1 lease is ideal if you’re not planning on moving back to Chicago until right before the start of Fall Quarter. You can poke around Craigslist a bit now, but many apartments for rent won’t even be listed yet.


    Step 2: Picking a neighborhood

    Lincoln Park/DePaul Campus:

    This is a neighborhood every student should be familiar with. If you are heavily involved in campus life, it’s the best option for you. If you enjoy hitting up the Ray every day and have lots of friends who still live on-campus, then why not stay?
    Benefits: Campus facilities are easily accessible, and there are many resources available for studying.
    Drawbacks: The apartments in Lincoln Park can be pricey, and the market is competitive. Places go fast.



    This part of town is vibrant, youthful and packed, especially during Cubs season. If you enjoy the party atmosphere and surrounding yourself with college students and young singles, then this might be the place for you.
    Benefits: This area is relatively cheap for rentals, with prices ranging from $500 to $700 typically. There are also plenty of cheap restaurants and bars around.
    Drawbacks: Drunk people. Ladies, if you go out at night, bring a buddy with you or prepare to be harassed.


    Southport/Irving Park:

    This neighborhood isn’t far from Wrigleyville, but the atmosphere is completely different. While there are still bars and restaurants, this neighborhood is quaint and quiet.
    Benefits: This is a comfortable and homey neighborhood.
    Drawbacks: It takes about 45 minutes to commute to the Loop and 20 minutes to Lincoln Park, so you may feel disconnected from campus life.


    The Loop:

    The Loop is suitable for upperclassmen in the business, communication or computing and digital media schools. If you are serious about your career and don’t care too much for the college scene, then the Loop is for you.
    Benefits: The area is vibrant and busy during the day.
    Drawbacks: There isn’t much nightlife, and most establishments close at 5 p.m. Rental rates also tend to be higher down here.


    Step 3: Finding a decent roommate

    One DePaul student’s story The perfect apartment does not equal the perfect living situation, as Andrea Kinnerk, junior, knows. Roommates also make a big contribution, whether good or bad. Kinnerk found her roommate and apartment on Fullerton and Clifton using Craigslist.

    She went in with high hopes, but three months into the lease, she began noticing that clothes were missing from her wardrobe, particularly after she returned from a weekend away. “I was confused by how things were stolen, and began to panic after my third shirt was stolen,” Kinnerk said. After requesting a lock on her bedroom door, Kinnerk was floored when her clothing continued to disappear. One day, when her roommate was not home, Kinnerk turned the lock on her roommates’ door with her own key and discovered that the landlord had installed the same lock on both doors.

    Inside, she found about 20 pieces of her clothing and 25 bottles of her nail polish. Kinnerk took her belongings back but then wasn’t sure what to do. “My first instinct was to call the police,” she said. “If I had done that, they would have arrested her.” Unfortunately, the horror didn’t end there. Kinnerk’s roommate changed the WiFi password and didn’t tell Kinnerk what the new one was. She also started turning on all of the lights to raise the electricity bill, which Kinnerk paid. “I was so scared,” Kinnerk said. “I didn’t know what she was capable of.” Kinnerk stayed in the apartment until the end of the lease, but she didn’t have a comforting place to call “home.”

    She no longer lives there, but she says she learned a valuable life lesson about the risk of living with random roommates and how to cope with difficult living situations. She would not, however, recommend that anyone does what she did. “If you feel any red flag, trust your instincts,” Kinnerk said. “The location was perfect, but no place was worth having to go through that horrible experience.”


    Step 4: Preparing for the grand tour

    You’ve found a reasonable apartment and have set up a date for a quick tour. Not having questions prepared is a huge disservice to you. Here are some questions you should ask before you make any commitments.

    Who is responsible for apartment repairs?
    How can I contact maintenance?
    Can the landlord be reached at any time?
    How does the landlord typically communicate?
    Is a parking space available, and how much does it cost?
    What appliances are included, and how old are they?
    Who else lives in this apartment complex?
    Are pets allowed?
    Are we allowed to paint the walls?
    Is the apartment furnished?
    Have there ever been any sanitary issues, such as bugs?
    How is the lighting?
    What are the consequences if we receive a complaint?
    If we have a complaint, who should we go to?
    What’s the closest bus stop or train station?
    Do we control our own heat?
    Who plows the snow?
    What day is the garbage picked up?