Life on your own — finally. No Office of the Dean of Students telling you where to live and what will be included in the set price of room and board. Unfortunately for many of us, splurging is not a possibility once we are free to find our own housing. On the positive side, making a game out of the lowest rent you can find never gets old. 2. Pets Most of us have wanted to be a pet-owner at some point, but apartment and dorm no-pet rules make this difficult. I mean, who wouldn’t want a pet tiger to take on walks on the Lawn? I don’t know about you, but wildlife on Grounds is getting repetitive. Squirrels and the occasional local puppy just isn’t cutting it anymore. Most people say they don’t have time for pets in college, but frankly, if you’re saying that, then you simply aren’t trying hard enough. In order to ameliorate this issue, you should find an apartment that’s pet-friendly. Unleash your golden retriever and tabby cat, so they can hash it out in the lobby of your complex. 3. Finding housemates When you think about it, a routine and quiet life at home can be nice after a crowded and busy day in classes. So let’s be real — you need to be careful about picking housemates. Imagine if you lived with the craziest people — the kid who punches walls for absolutely no reason or the kid who composes heavy metal with amps loud enough to shatter glass. You might get that variety you’ve been looking for in your roommates — but earth-quaking music and constant wariness walking from your room to the kitchen? All of these elements scream an unideal living situation. 4. Floor plan Most students shared a room their first year or at least heard the complaints of those who did. Are you willing to risk the possibility of issues arising with roommates in tight living spaces again? Probably not. When looking for an apartment, look for bigger spaces that will give you and your housemates some breathing room. Since cooking at home is really important if you no longer have a meal plan, try to find a space with a large kitchen as well. Finally, look for a place with a good living room. A nice weekend movie night on a comfy couch with your friends? Just imagine it. 5. Proximity to classes As a first-year, you get used to the excessive walking. Now that you’re in shape, let’s amp it up a bit. Think outside the bus loop — prime housing lies beyond Northline and Outer Loop. Wake up with the seasoned locals and surgeons and accompany them on their exhilarating morning commutes. Feeling a wake-up call? Your five-mile morning stroll will ensure you’re ready to go for calculus. But if long distances are not your thing, try on-Grounds housing instead. 6. Amenities The AFC was once so easy to access as a first-year and so effective for preventing that troublesome freshman 15. But now, are you going to want to get on an inconvenient 20-minute bus ride just to get to the gym? Probably not. If a gym is too far away, we both know you won’t use it. So look for an apartment complex that comes with a gym. This is a pleasant compromise with your lazy energy. You’ll feel guilty if you don’t utilize this service because, come on — the gym is literally downstairs. 7. Neighbors There is no better way to force yourself to make friends than if your neighbors are complete strangers. Live in a neighborhood of just Charlottesville locals. That way, there is no one who will understand the struggles you are ranting about. It’ll be a refreshing change of pace. As a stressed-out college student, you might want to see a familiar face after a hard week of classes. Then again, you might not. 8. Proximity to the Corner I don’t know about you, but I just don’t see why students flock to the Corner for upperclassmen housing. Sure, it markets itself as “the vibrant intersection of students” and “packed with restaurants, shopping and specialty businesses,” but when you think about it, there’s just no fun in that. Living within walking distance to Grit’s oat milk lattes and Bodo’s egg bagels? This will just tempt you to spend too much money. It’s best to live far enough away from these luxuries to make it seem like a vacation every time you visit the Corner. 9. Greek life Soon sororities and fraternities will open up their housing to their new pledges. Living with your best friends from your pledge class is definitely appealing. Constant friendliness from your sisters or brothers, home-cooked meals and a strong sense of community? Sign me up. 10. Safety Safety is never overrated. After a late night in the library, I don’t think many people think to themselves, “I want to walk home alone at night through a construction site to add a little thrill in my life.” Check if your housemates have similar schedules as you, so you can walk home with them. Oh, and I can’t forget to state the obvious — don’t post your address online!