Essential Questions To Ask When Touring Student Housing Properties

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Feb 28, 2024

Imagine moving into your first student apartment. You’re excited about the independence and a fresh start, but also a little overwhelmed. Choosing the right housing plays a crucial role in shaping your entire college experience, impacting everything from your academic success to your social life and well-being. Choosing poorly can lead to constant roommate conflicts, inconvenient commutes, or even a feeling of isolation that can hinder your college years.

In fact, the Center on Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH) 2021 annual review highlights housing insecurity as a significant risk factor for mental health challenges in college students. This stress often stems from feeling pressured to make quick decisions with limited information. However, by being proactive and asking the right questions during housing tours, you can confidently navigate the process and find a place that truly feels like home.

This article equips you with essential questions to ask when touring student housing facilities. By delving deeper into each question and understanding the implications of the answers, you’ll be empowered to make an informed decision and step into your college experience with confidence.

Tips for Preparation

A successful student housing tour begins long before you step inside the building. Proper preparation empowers you to find out more and gather the most valuable information to streamline your decision-making process.

  • Research meticulously

The internet is your best friend during this process. Don’t just rely on flashy photos. Delve into official campus housing websites for floor plans, amenities lists, and contract details. Seek honest student reviews and testimonials on independent sites or forums to get a true sense of the resident experience beyond the polished marketing material.

  • Prioritize your needs

Before scheduling any tours, identify your top priorities. Do you absolutely need a private bathroom, ample study space, or proximity to the library? Understanding your non-negotiables will prevent you from being swayed by impressive amenities that don’t fit your primary needs.

  • Schedule strategically

If possible, schedule tours during peak hours to assess the normal noise levels, foot traffic, and general atmosphere. Avoid visiting when the property might be unnaturally quiet, such as early mornings or during academic breaks.

  • Equip yourself

Bring a notebook, pen, and your phone. Take detailed notes for comparison, and don’t hesitate to capture pictures of important features or specific details for later review. Your list of pre-prepared questions should guide your tour, but stay open to additional inquiries that arise during your visit.

By approaching your tours with preparation and focus, you’ll maximize your time and extract the most relevant information for a confident decision.

Essential Questions

When considering student housing options, it’s important to prepare a detailed set of questions that cover the key characteristics of your potential living space. These inquiries will help you make an informed decision, ensuring that your chosen accommodation aligns with your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Let’s break down these essential questions into four main categories: cost and payment, lease and living, property and amenities, and additional considerations.

  1. Cost and Payment

Rent: Begin your inquiry by understanding the monthly rent charges. Knowing how this amount compares with other student housing options nearby is crucial, as it offers a benchmark for evaluating the value you will be paying. Furthermore, this assessment can also guide your budget planning, ensuring that your housing choice aligns with your financial constraints and goals. 

Deposit: Understanding the security deposit requirements is equally important. Clarify the amount and the conditions under which it will be fully or partially refunded. Ask for examples of common deductions to gauge what’s considered normal wear and tear versus damage. 

Utilities: It’s vital to verify if critical utilities such as water, electricity, heating, and internet service are covered in the monthly rent. Should these costs be separate, it’s wise to ask for an estimated monthly expense, drawing on the usage patterns of past tenants. Additionally, inquire about the billing process and any seasonal variations in utility costs to further refine your financial planning. 

Additional Fees: It’s prudent to ask about any extra charges that might emerge later, beyond the basic rent. Potential costs could encompass parking access, use of laundry facilities, and waste disposal services. Gaining clarity on these fees at the outset will help in avoiding unforeseen financial strains. Delving into the details of these additional expenses can also assist in comparing the overall value and affordability of different housing options. 

  1. Lease and Living

Lease Length: Many properties provide adaptable leasing options, including semester-length agreements or opportunities for shorter tenures. Evaluating how the terms of the lease align with your academic calendar and vacation periods is important. This examination ensures that your housing commitment complements your educational journey and personal needs without causing unnecessary complications or constraints. 

Subletting Policy: Understanding the property’s stance on subletting is crucial if you anticipate the need to lease your space temporarily. Familiarize yourself with the specific procedures, potential costs, and any limitations that govern subletting arrangements. Clarifying these details can safeguard against policy violations and related complications, contributing to a more secure and flexible housing experience. 

Quiet Hours: For individuals who prioritize tranquility for study or leisure, knowing the property’s quiet hours policy is fundamental. Inquire about the specific times these rules apply and the level of enforcement to ensure the environment aligns with your needs for concentration and rest. This will also help you gauge the community’s overall atmosphere, aiding in your decision to choose a living space that supports your academic and personal well-being. 

Guest Policy: It’s important to clear up the regulations concerning visitors, focusing on aspects such as the permissible number of guests, how long they can stay, and the policy on overnight accommodation. Set realistic expectations for when you want to host friends and family, ensuring your plans align with property rules. You want to prevent any misunderstandings or conflicts with management or neighbors, fostering a harmonious community environment. 

Maintenance: Ascertain the division of responsibility for upkeep and fixes, whether it falls to the landlord, management company, or tenants. Familiarize yourself with the protocol for flagging problems and understand the expected turnaround for resolutions. This sets proper guidelines on the level of support you might receive and foresee the living conditions you can expect.

  1. Property and Amenities

Room Size and Storage: Ask about the size of the available rooms and compare them to standard student housing options. Adequate storage space is also crucial, so inquire about closet space and any additional storage facilities. 

Furniture: Inquire about the furnishings included in your living space and shared areas to understand the setup fully. Evaluating the quality and state of these pieces is crucial for comfort and functionality. Additionally, it’s beneficial to explore the guidelines regarding modifications or additions to your space, ensuring any personal touches you plan are within the property’s policies. 

Laundry Facilities: Confirm the availability of laundry facilities on-site, including any associated costs. If laundry services are not available within the property, ask about nearby alternatives. 

Internet: Since reliable internet is non-negotiable for students, inquire about the speed and reliability based on feedback from past residents. Also, ask about any usage restrictions that might apply. 

Safety and Security: Prioritizing safety is key, so don’t hesitate to ask detailed questions about the security setup. Find out what kind of measures are in place, from surveillance cameras to controlled entry points, and whether there are security staff on duty. It’s also smart to get a clear picture of the emergency response plans. Knowing how the property handles unexpected situations gives you peace of mind and ensures you’re well-prepared for any scenario. 

  1. Additional Considerations

Parking: If you own a vehicle, parking availability is a key consideration. Find out if there are additional charges for parking spaces and explore nearby alternatives if on-site parking is limited. 

Pet Policy: If you’re a pet owner, it’s really important to get the lowdown on the property’s pet policy. Make sure to ask about any breed restrictions or limits on how many furry friends you can have in your space. Also, it’s a good idea to check if there are any additional charges for pets. It’s all about making sure both you and your pet feel welcome. 

Community and Surroundings: Finally, get a feel for the community vibe and the neighborhood’s overall atmosphere. The presence of common areas, proximity to essential services, and potential noise levels can significantly impact your living experience. 

These detailed questions will help you gain a comprehensive understanding of what to expect from your student housing option. Remember, the more specific and informed your questions are, the better equipped you’ll be to make a decision that suits your preferences, lifestyle, and budget.


Finding the perfect student housing aligns with more than just a place to sleep. It becomes a stepping stone to academic success, social connection, and overall well-being throughout your college journey. Remember, a well-prepared and strategic approach to searching for student housing goes beyond a checklist—it unlocks a sense of confidence, control, and ultimately, an environment that feels like your true home away from home.

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