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Housing for College
Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Teens, Preteens, & Young Adults > Housing for College
My daughter is in a 5-year professional program at an Eastern college. Dorm and dining costs are extremely high. Real estate is much more affordable than in the Bay Area. I am considering buying an apartment/condo/townhouse for her to live in.
One option is to get a 2 BR/2bath so she can have an apartment mate. The monthly mortgage payment would be less than what we're paying in dorm fees, and she likes to cook her own meals, which would also save a lot of money. Does anyone have experience doing this? If so, what are the pros and cons and what should I be mindful of? Is it worthwhile budget/tax-wise to own it just for the duration of her studies and then sell? Is it best to buy and keep after she graduates? Will having the apartment affect herscholarships, grants or financial aid? Thank you! Prudent Mom
My daughter will live at home while she attends CAL starting fall. We live in Hercules and she will commute using public transportation. We made this decision because of finances and the outrageous cost of dorms.
I am worried though because some people are telling her she will not make friends (because people from the same dorms hang out) and she will feel cut off from college life in general.
It also feels like it is almost a given that kids ''go away'' to college these days and there is peer pressure to do that even if you live close enough to commute, and maybe it's not cool to live at home.
Is this true? I don' want her to suffer and wonder if I should take out even more loans to make dorm living possible for her.
Any thoughts/experiences appreciated.
My daughter joined the Cal band and it has been great. Also, with your financial situation she should be able to get work-study. Help her to find a job that is fun and where she will meet people. Do not let her sign up for more than 13 units the first semester so she can figure out how to put this all together. There are also study groups arranged by the campus study center (I forget the exact name) and if she is willing to explore that she will find friends in the same classes and so on.
I had one daughter start Cal last fall and have another starting this fall. Though my older daughter lives in the dorms, her FRIENDS are people she met in band and at work.
Please treat her like an adult and give her lots of privacy, that will help. Believe me, I have to make a special effort not to be nosy. Let her come and go and don't intervene unless she breaks house rules, flunks out, or looks like she is getting in to some sort of trouble.
My younger daughter was determined to ''go away'' but after watching her sister, reviewing her options, and coming to terms with the fact that this is the #1 public university and she loves the Bay Area, she seems delighted, finally, to stay. works at Cal
Suggestion: have your child pay for their room. Tell them that's the deal, you want to live on campus, we can afford to pay for food, tuition and books, you pay the rest. I paid for my own college ed., all of it, and I was happy to pay the extra to be on campus. It's not that much after all; my daughter pays about 10k a year for room and board so room is maybe 6 or 7k a year. Well worth it. She can pay it back over a few years.
There's a reason the expression is BIG MAN ON CAMPUS. Who ever heard of BIG MAN OFF CAMPUS? And even if your daughter is not the BMOC type, is a wallflower, then being on campus will be even more important to draw her out from behind mommy's apron and into the real (okay not so real) world of campus life. sean
My daughter--of whom I am also very proud, because she is succeeding in attending college despite multiple learning disabilities--lives at home in Berkeley and is delighted to be able to commute by BART to City College of San Francisco--a community college--which has an excellent photography department--her intended vocation. She is just completing her first semester, has made friends in each of her classes, and is interested in becoming involved in a couple of the 60 or so student clubs as well--and I'm sure there are at least as many such clubs at Cal Berkeley!! This is despite the fact that her boyfriend is not currently a student, and she spends a lot of time with him as well. The point being--that of course your daughter will be able to make friends at school, even if she doesn't live in a dorm, and can ''hang out'' with those who have similar interests-- and if she really wants to be part of such a general ''hangout group,'' when she makes friends with someone who lives in a dorm, she'll probably be able to join with her/his hangout group. By the way, at least one ''old friend'' has also made fun of my daughter for ''living at home'' while going to college, as she has reported to us with contempt--''His mother just buys him anything he wants.''
I have fond memories of my own ''away at college'' experience, especially from my junior and senior years. But college, housing and food were a lot less expensive then (tuition was $2200 my senior year at an Ivy league school), and I graduated (in 1971) without a penny of debt despite needing to pay tuition with a combination of 5 scholarships, plus working junior and senior years when my parents stopped paying for food and rent because they didn't like my political activities. This left me with the freedom to choose the lower-paying work I really wanted to do without having to pay back loans to a bank or to feel obliged to pay back my parents (who wouldn't have had the money to lend anyway). This is a greater gift you can give to your daughter than to respond to the insecurities of some of the friends who are ''advising'' her. Joan
The reality is that a lot of college students live at home, have families, and work. Your daughter is fortunate enough to be going to Cal and living at home. She can join clubs, get involved in study groups, talk to students in class, etc. and make a lot of friends. Will she be able to have friends over at 1 am on a week day night to party with, probably not. But then again, she'll probably be sleeping or studying at that hour anyway. She can always go to the dorms to hang out with other students if she wants. Anon
They made their best friends in:
-- Relatively small classes (for instance the freshman seminars, less common languages, and D-Cal courses that are student run, such as folk dancing)
-- Student clubs (there are a zillion from political, to community service, to music, to creative anachronism)--they signed up for more than they could do and tried them out dropping the ones they didn't click with
-- Club and intramural sports (official school teams are very time consuming)
They went through rush but decided that greek life was not for them, but many students find that to be an affinity group they like,
So, I would encourage your student to dive in and enjoy-- there's way more than any student will ever be able to do there! Another Cal parent
I never lived in the dorms when I went to college. The first year I lived at home and commuted. I made friends in class and hung out with them plenty after school to do projects, fun, etc. I transferred far away my second year and moved in with my boyfriend (who wasn't at school). I also made plenty of friends in class and just being on campus. I also had a job off-campus and had friends from there. I went to one dorm party my first year and thought, ''wow, this is really weird, glad I don't live here.'' It just seemed wild and out of control and somehow surreal. Who really needs all that experience partying? Who says that has to be part of the college experience? As we know there can be very dire effects from all that beer-chugging (the guy who was just killed at a frat party in Berkeley is one!).
I think if you and your daughter decide to some house rules then let her do her thing, she will feel more independent. Maybe at some point she will meet people she will want to share an apartment with (though in the BA that is so expensive). As far as making friends, it's hard not to if a person is even somewhat friendly. I like the idea of clubs, and other shared activities as a way of making friends.
I'm sure she will be fine living at home. not a dorm liver
To college parents still subscribed: our UCSB freshman daughter recently secured a lease for off-campus housing in Isla Vista - the details are vague, the roommates are mostly unidentified and the number of people on the lease seems to be excessive for a 3-bedroom duplex, of which my daughter has her own room. Yet, the deed is done, and the deposit paid, though I suspect that the single rooms subsidize the overcrowded, possibly illegal arrangement. And we are responsible for a 12-month lease, though she won't be occupying the room for the summer. I am assured by daughter and a couple of other contacts that this is perfectly normal. Any opinions from Santa Barbara parents? The lease agreement has some pretty strong language and I'm concerned about liability, particularly when daughter is not there to protect her (our) investment. Great to see parents on the tree who have graduated BHS, lots of stuff still of interest. Thanks! Cathy
If you want to check into whether or not the place is over capacity, check with the city's rental board.
To be honest, it sounds like you're very concerned about your daughter's potential mistake in securing good housing. If it turns out to be a costly mistake, perhaps you can let her take responsibility for it? It may seem like a large cost now, but she has to learn these lessons sooner or later, better to learn it on a $5k (or whatever) lease than on a million dollar home later, right? raising kids who can read the legalese in a lease
First, it is standard to get a 12-month lease, even if no one is living in the place over the summer. Maybe your daughter and her friends could sublet? The sublet really only works though if one or two summer residents are also school-year residents: you do need someone who cares about the state of the house there to keep order. If none of the school-year residents will be around over the summer, don't sublet.
As for the liability, is the strong language protecting only the landlord? Or does it spell out what the renters and landlord are each responsible for? If this landlord owns a lot of properties that s/he rents to students, s/he has probably seen a lot of pretty horrific property damage, and is trying to guard against that. Wear and tear a little beyond normal (we're talking about students, after all) is probably going to be acceptable. It is quite unlikely that any of the security deposit will be returned, but also quite unlikely that your daughter & her friends will be held responsible for any expenses above & beyond the amount covered by the security deposit.
A couple additional thoughts, both positive and negative about the arrangement. It sounds like a pretty normal rental situation for a college student, which is to say that it probably seems great to your daughter, but is below a standard of living you might like to see her have. Has she been living in a dorm room? If so, then what seems overcrowded to you might seem palatial to her, especially if she has her own room! There are also a lot of good life skills to be learned in a rental property that you can't get in a dorm, particularly financial: paying bills, buying toilet paper [it doesn't just appear on its own! amazing!], agreeing on whether or not the house can afford cable TV, etc.
I hate to end this on a negative, but your daughter's vague answers to some of the details sound a little fishy to me. If she doesn't know (and therefore you don't know) who exactly is living in this duplex, she should figure it out immediately and tell you. Or tell you WHY they don't yet know who is living there. As you get closer to the start date of the lease without knowing the other renters, the chances that you & your daughter are in for a nasty surprise (increased rent or undesirable housemate, for instance) increases.
This could be a good thing for her, but I also think you're on the right track by checking the details a little more closely. a supporter of off-campus housing
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