Searching For Off-Campus Housing In Milwaukee

Searching For Off-Campus Housing In Milwaukee

Renting an apartment or other off-campus housing can be an intimidating process, especially if it’s your first time. Luckily, Milwaukee is a renter’s market that has plenty of housing available year-round, and there are resources to help your student get through the process smoothly.

If your student is still thinking about looking for a place to live off-campus, here’s a run-down of the basic steps and questions to share with them to help get started on a search.

  1. When do you want to move into an apartment?
    The Neighborhood Housing Office recommend searching for an apartment about 2-3 months before you plan on moving in. For example, if you want to move in August 1, you’ll want to search for a place and sign a lease somewhere in the April through May range for the maximum selection options and competitive pricing. Whichever month you want or need to move in, rest assured that there’s housing available all 12 months of the year in all neighborhoods.
  2. What’s your budget?
    Before you get ready to sign a lease, consider that you’re probably going to have to put down first month’s rent and a security deposit right away. A security deposit is money that will cover damages done to the apartment–if you take care of your apartment, you will get all or most of this money back when you move out. A security deposit usually is the same cost as rent. So before you get ready to move out, you’ll want to make sure you have money saved up to pay this when you move in; for example, if an apartment’s monthly rent is $900, the security deposit will also likely be $900–this means that you will need to be ready to pay $1800 when you move in.
  3. Will you be living alone, or with roommates?
    Living with roommates is one way to bring expenses down, but there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to selecting people to live with. Your best friends might be compatible with you as friends, but they might not be compatible with you as a roommate. Qualities that can indicate whether or not people would work well living together include sleeping schedules (think: night owls versus morning birds), cleanliness preferences, similar budgets, and similar wants and needs in an apartment. Keep in mind that in the City of Milwaukee, you may not have more than three unrelated tenants per unit (siblings, first cousins, married partner, or children count as related in this context).
  4. Consider the following:
    – Will you need parking for a car?
    – Do you have a pet and need to limit your search for a pet friendly apartment?
    – Would a duplex/Polish flat or an apartment building better suit your needs?
    – If the apartment does not have a laundry facility, is it near a laundromat?
    – What amenities are important to you, and which ones can you live without? (Ex. yard, dishwasher, air conditioning, etc.)
    – What neighborhood do you want to live in?
  5. Do your research on the landlord and apartment.
    After finding a place your interested in, check out the landlord ratings on our website–all landlords that list on our website are in our database. If you cannot find information on the landlord there, you can also check out CCAP and plug in the landlord’s name to see their court records and Milwaukee’s DNS to get information on the specific property and a landlord’s history of violations.
  6. Set up a showing to see the apartment.
    When you find apartments you like online, give the landlord a call or e-mail to see the apartment in-person. Bring along your prospective roommates, or bring a friend or family member with you to check it out. When you go, take pictures and take note of the condition of the apartment. Is it clean? Do the faucets work? Do the outlets work? Be on the look out for things that might become issues down the road. The landlord may ask you to apply, and it is common to pay an application fee so the landlord can process your background check. Do not feel pressured if you are unsure about the place; there are many places in Milwaukee to choose from.

Article provided by Jaimie Anderson of UWM’s Neighborhood Housing Office