How many of you have searched for student housing? Sometimes the search can get rough. My approval process for finding student housing is almost comparable to my approval process for special relationships and—believe me—I am picky.

Obviously as students, we can only be so picky. We can really only put our money where our mouth is. On the other side of things, we don’t want to live in a ‘hole in the wall’. We hope for a great place that meets the four S’s: it’s close to the school and it’s a place to study, socialize, and sleep.

Believe me, I’ve looked for many apartments that could fit my needs. Before any search, it’s crucial that you define your needs and weed out those “needs” from your “wants”. It’s every college student’s dream to have a mansion filled with their buddies, but let’s be realistic. Everyone has specific personal needs, but let’s talk about some basics.

I’ve found that there are three big things to consider when you’re looking for student housing.

1 // The Search

The market is always changing, so it’s important to get a rough idea of what’s out there. One of the most helpful places to start your search is Rentler.com, where you can browse through hundreds of properties listed that are ready to rent. Every student is different, so use the filters on Rentler to sort by places that offer student contracts, semester-friendly pricing, amenities, and more.

2 // The Location

Whichever school you choose to attend, you’ll find housing in all shapes and sizes nearby. I recently used Rentler to help me find a place next to my university this year. I was able to get a rough estimate of the housing in the area and see potential student housing locations using a few criteria points that were important to me. I know there are exceptions, but hardly anyone enjoys commuting. With that in mind, it was a priority for me to find a location next to the campus. Imagine having a class at 7:30am with a 30–40 minute commute on top of that.

3 // The Cost

Affordability is very important because tuition is not getting cheaper. I feel like every year tuition raises a couple hundred dollars, at least. I know what you are sarcastically thinking, WOOHOO, right? Unfortunately the cost of tuition is probably not going to be getting cheaper anytime soon.

Maybe half of you are already donating plasma on the side to make ends meet. That’s when it’s a good idea to sort by lowest price first when you search and compare different housing options side by side. Then ask yourself some questions: Do I want an apartment? Do I want to rent a house? Do I want to share a room? These are the questions that need definite answers before choosing the right place.

To keep costs lower, having a roommate may be an ideal option. Roommates can help cut the cost of rent in half. Again, your individual “needs” and “wants” will play a huge role in the additional costs—some students might spend a lot of time in the apartment and others might choose the cheapest (free) option and live in the school’s library.

Whatever it may be, every factor will mean something different to each student when choosing a place for the next school year.  The common factor in all these scenarios is that students need a place to live…because at the end of the day, the library has to close eventually.