Told you that you wouldn’t have to wait a month for the next post! For the next installation of How to Find Your Dream Home – IEDP Edition, I got some help from some of my cohort, and we’re sharing our own experiences finding a place to live.

Me – Five-bedroom house in West Philly; used Craigslist

I found an open room in a house with other Penn students through Craigslist. Although I wasn’t able to visit Philly before committing to the place, I Skyped with the current roommates and asked for lots of pictures to help me make my decision. My roommates are all great, and it was nice to move in to a house that was already furnished. Also, living in a house usually means a good amount of space and cheap rent!

Susan – Studio (with two furry roommates!) in West Philly; used a housing company

Susan has a dog and cat, so she started looking for housing early to find a place that was pet-friendly. Before visiting apartments, she checked out different housing companies that specialize in student housing, using Yelp reviews to find a reputable company. She went this route because a lot of these companies have leases that match with school semesters. Susan came in late April to check out housing and found out that a lot of the apartments she had intended to tour had already been rented, so she ended up signing a lease the day she saw the apartment. Perk of a studio: being able to host multiple brunches for the cohort, without having to worry about roommates.

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I’ve heard that posting pictures of animals often increases readership, so I’m using Susan’s pets as a ploy…Meet Patito Feo and Romeo Santos.

Lisha and Sharanya – Three-bedroom apartment in West Philly; used Penn’s off-campus housing website

Lisha, Sharanya, and their third roommate found each other through Penn’s off-campus housing website. This site allows you to connect with other Penn students who are looking for housing, as well as allows Penn students to advertise rooms in already rented apartments. Lisha recommends that you fill out your profile with as much detail as possible, to make sure you find people that are compatible. In addition, she suggests that if you’re looking for roommates and an apartment, find your roommates first and then start looking at apartments, to ensure that everyone’s on the same page.

Cici – Two-bedroom apartment on campus

Cici’s best friend from college was also coming to Penn (lucky her!) so they were looking for an apartment together. For security and convenience, they decided to live in Sansom Place, the graduate student dorms. They share a two-bedroom apartment with a small living room, kitchen and a bathroom. Residential advisors in Sansom Place organize frequent social events, which makes getting to know other grad students easier. Sansom Place is a VERY quick walk to GSE, the units come furnished, and the leases are aligned with the academic calendar. However, not all units have kitchens, so keep that in mind if that’s important to you.

Here are a few more general tips:

  • If you can’t see an apartment in person before signing a lease, ask for a video as a helpful way to gauge the space.
  • In addition to Sansom Place, some of the other large, new apartment complexes in University City offer furnished apartments. In general, be prepared to pay more for a furnished apartment. However, you can also try using the “furnished” filter on Craigslist and might find some cheaper options.
  • Consider applying to be a Graduate Associate. This is similar to a resident advisor. You get rent-free, furnished housingand a meal plan with a few meals a week, in exchange for supporting your residents, participating in orientation activities, etc.

I hope this information was helpful for those of you who will be joining us in the fall, and I always love to hear from you guys, so please get in touch if you have more questions!