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Living, learning, community: Apartment Hunting 101

For many college students, navigating the uncharted waters of off-campus apartment hunting can be a tricky and overwhelming task. That’s why Northeastern University is guiding students along the way.

Now in its fourth year, Off Campus Student Services is hosting a series of workshops tailored to help students feel comfortable and informed throughout this process.

During one afternoon workshop last month, students were presented a checklist of critical topics to examine — including determining a budget, and thoroughly reviewing a typical lease. Later, the students posed questions on the pros and cons of going through brokers, as well as how to make sure a rental apartment is up to code.

“We go over the basics — terminology, finding a good realtor, renters’ rights, what a lease looks like and how to select an appropriate neighborhood,” said Gail Olyha, associate dean and director of Off Campus Student Services. “We help students navigate an apartment search in the very competitive Boston market.”

Among them were Kate Paulhus, Stephanie Shelton and Alexandra Beaumariage — all third-year students interested in living together off-campus. On why she attended, Beaumariage was direct. “I don’t want to get in over my head,” she said.

Paulhus said the workshop opened her eyes to a host of issues she’d never even considered, such as looking for properly installed smoke alarms. “I definitely recommend this for people looking for off-campus housing,” she said.

The series — themed “Apartment Search ’11: Look Before You Leap”— continues throughout February, with similar “Apartment Hunting 101” workshops scheduled for tomorrow, Feb. 10, and onFeb. 22. An Apartment Fair on Feb. 16 will also link students with local realtors invited by the university.

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