Students face difficulty transitioning from student to conventional housing

Sandeep Bhakta

Moving into a dorm may take a center stage in the college housing experience, but the transition to apartments comes with its own set of complexities and experiences.

For many students, the topic of housing in Austin is accompanied by feelings of stress. This can be amplified when students decide to leave the secure cradle of student apartment housing and opt for more conventional living. The former typically leases several months in advance, while the latter may have a window of only 60 days to sign a lease.

Kelly Poore, assistant property manager at University Village, helps manage a complex that focuses on student housing. She said the complex leases as early as October for the following summer.

“We prelease, and (conventional complexes) can lease out 60 days in advance,” Poore said. “We are (leasing) so far in advance … because we have a direct move-in day and a direct move-out day. That’s where we have flexibility with (availability).”

Poore said at conventional complexes, even after a 12-month lease expires, the contract can stay current and change to a month-to-month lease if a tenant gives 60 days of notice.

“At individual leasing, you sign a contract for 12 months and you don’t get a month-to-month option afterwards,” Poore said. “Even though we do require notice to vacate, if you don’t renew you have to move out.”

Chelsie Martinelli, the interim property manager of conventional complex RARE Apartments, said the transition is unique for college students because it’s a learning experience. She said when moving into a conventional complex, she was surprised to have no washer and dryer.

“I didn’t even think about asking my first complex, ‘Hey are washers and dryers included?’” Martinelli said. “It was one of those moments where I thought, ‘OK, I’m becoming an adult.’”

Biology senior Valarie Ruiz said she has decided to move from a student to conventional apartment next year to jump-start her entry into adulthood.

“Now that I’m becoming an adult, I need to buy furniture and get my life together,” Ruiz said. “Having the option of a fully furnished place doesn’t really make me wanna kick-start getting into my future.”

Chemistry junior Cecilia Bui is also in the process of leaving a student complex for a more conventional one. She said seeing many of her friends already finalize a place to live months in advance has been difficult.

“I feel a little alienated from the process because the nature of student housing is to get it figured out as soon as possible, and I haven’t,” Bui said.

Marketing junior Maddy Delaney, who has undergone this transition, said it’s inherently more costly to switch from complexes that lease differently. “The pressure in West Campus is that you have to lease this early if you want a spot,” Delaney said. “I just didn’t feel comfortable waiting. I didn’t want a time where my other lease was going to be up and I didn’t have my next housing yet.”

Bui said this experience is particularly unique for her and other college students.

“I’m still dependent on my parents,” Bui said. “I’ve never lived on my own, so it’s weird to live in a place that’s technically your space but still within your family’s circle.”