Scrolling through the McMaster housing groups on Facebook, posts proclaiming a house’s proximity to campus, low rent or length of bus ride to neighbourhood amenities are abundant. These are but a few of the selling points landlords and tenants scrambling to find another person to fill out the house use to promote their homes, but there are more important factors than the newness of the stove.
You will be spending a lot of time in your student house, so it’s important to find one that suits your needs. Understandably, students are looking to keep the cost of living low. But there’s more to a house than four walls and that kind of lumpy bed and second-hand dresser your parents have been storing in the basement.
Renting a room or house that is inexpensive and convenient seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to consider a number of other factors too. Do you like living close enough to campus to see Thode, MDCL or the Wilson building? Are you happy to share one kitchen with upwards of five people? Will that horrid shade of beige the whole house is painted slowly grate on you over the course of the long winter?
While convenience feels like the right answer, it’s also worth considering your student rental as an investment in your own future and happiness. It’s okay if it takes time to figure out what that means for you. For me, that means having a 15-minute bus ride between my home and campus and living in an apartment, while a bit more expensive than the standard rental in Westdale or Ainslie Wood, I actually enjoy spending time in. The short commute to school and the relatively slight increase in price has resulted in a boost to my happiness during the school year.
I understand that this is a point of privilege; I am able to work two jobs during the school year meaning I can set aside living expense money every week and month. I also acknowledge that living farther away from campus can be more of a stressor for some people.
I’m not using my own experience as the “correct” one to have. What I’m saying is that you should care about the place you call home during your university years.
When it comes to your housing situation, it’s okay to really consider what you want. If you want to be picky, be picky.
Believe me, there is not much worse than trying to spend time in a dark, grimy student rental. At the end of the day, the investment either in commuting time or rent is probably worth it.
Appliances and 30-second walks to campus do not make a house a home; your happiness does.