EDITORIAL: Ignore the mad dash to sign a lease

Students should not let the pressure to find an apartment get in the way of choosing compatible roommates

Op-Lambeth-EKlein

The application to live in Lambeth Field Apartments does not open until Dec. 1

Emma Klein | Cavalier Daily

Every year, students clamor to find housing as early as September and October. In the competitive Charlottesville housing market, there’s an underlying pressure to find and sign a lease as soon as possible. However, in this scramble to sign leases, it’s easy to prioritize securing housing early over choosing compatible roommates. We encourage students, especially first-years, to pump the brakes when it comes to securing leases. Your roommates will impact your college years much more than the places you live.

This advice might seem frustrating given the constraints on the housing search. It is already difficult to secure affordable housing, a concern for many students as rents continue to rise. This anxiety is only compounded for students with particular disabilities, who may need ramp accessibility for wheelchairs or animal-friendly housing for service animals. 

Yet, regardless of where you choose to live, your overall experience will be significantly affected by your roommates. As young people, we often take advantage of how we live in a time of our peak health. Data suggests that roommates have a profound impact on any student’s physical and emotional wellbeing. There is considerable evidence to indicate that your proximity to roommates who binge drink can influence your chance of exhibiting similar drinking habits. Other habits, such as dieting or exercising, held by one roommate can influence the whole apartment. On the whole, the values and habits your roommates hold will affect you, influencing the nature of your home for the entire year.

For first-years, you’ve been living at the University for approximately one month. While the bonds you’ve forged with your roommates or suitemates may range on a spectrum, it’s often too soon to tell who will make the right apartment-mates for the next year. There’s a significant difference between choosing friends and choosing living partners. The expectations for friendships vary wildly from those of future roommates — great friends might not make great roommates and vice-versa. 

With that said, we understand that taking the time to think carefully about roommates does not eliminate the pressure to secure a lease. Anxieties may push people to sign quickly around Grounds, but the opportunity to sign leases does not evaporate after October — for on-Grounds housing, general applications become available in December. As for off-Grounds housing, leases still exist after early autumn. While the mad dash to sign leases seems rampant among University students, it does not need to remain that way. Taking the time to make an informed choice about your living arrangements — especially your roommates — matters.

While you attend the University, you’re going to hear a lot about mental health and wellness. When it comes to your living situation and your roommates, it’s vital that you cultivate a home where you feel comfortable and safe for an entire year. Your home connects to your health. The moment it fails, you immediately feel it in the impact in every aspect of your life — from your private life to your schoolwork. Choose the people who will help you live your healthiest life and the ones you would want to help you when you’re not. Roommates seem at times both transient and ultra-important. They will be there — or not there — when you need them most. 

Due to the significant impact roommates will have on their personal well-being, students should take the time to think carefully about their future living arrangements before signing a lease. When it comes time to pick people to cultivate your home for next year, meditate on who will help you succeed during your college years.

The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board is composed of the executive editor, the editor in chief and three at-large members of the paper. The board can be reached at eb@cavalierdaily.com.

related stories