Living in the dormitories during your freshman year is a right of passage for any college student. They can be cramped, dirty, and loud. Generally, you have to share a room with a complete stranger. Most people consider it an incredible experience that they never want to have again. If one opts out of the dormitories, then it becomes necessary to find off-campus housing. Here are three tips to help you find a good location.

Check With Fraternities and Sororities

This option is not for everybody. If you are somewhat social and don’t mind the occasional party, Greek housing can be a great option. Most Greek buildings have a large number of rooms available for their members to live in. If not all the rooms are filled, some organizations will rent them out to non-Greek members. Since the utility costs are subsidized with the annual dues paid by members, rent is generally very cheap. A study compiled by several of the largest Greek organizations suggests that Greek rental rates are roughly 30% lower than those in the surrounding area. In some cases, rent even includes daily meals served in the fraternity’s cafeteria.

Use Social Media

Renting a new place is always something of a gamble. It may look great initially, but you could always experience issues down the road. Problems can arise from the structure itself, the appliances, or even the landlord. The best way to avoid these potential pitfalls is to get recommendations from people you trust. Send out messages through social media to inform your friends that you are looking for new housing. Your friends might know of an apartment that is opening up before it is even on the market. They can warn you away from certain locations and recommend specific landlords. With the average rent in the U.S. over $900, it is important to choose wisely.

Ask Your School

When moving off-campus, it may seem counterintuitive to seek advice from your university. The fact of the matter is that colleges are one of the best resources for finding reliable, off-campus housing. Schools will often compile listings of rentals that have been recommended by other students. If students experience issues with repairs, rent hikes, or landlords, the school will drop the listing from their collection. Many landlords prefer to advertise their listing solely through the university, rather than in online classifieds. In short, the university acts as a real estate agent for the students, but with no financial interest in the situation.

In conclusion, finding your first off-campus apartment is just as much a right of passage as living in the dorms for your freshman year. While the task may seem initially daunting, there are a lot of resources available to students. Other than traditional, online classifieds, students can utilize their social media connections, the school itself, and even the Greek community. Using these lesser known resources can lead to housing at a great bargain.