The issue of finding housing at Tulane is one that many prospective and current sophomores, juniors, and seniors unfortunately know all too well. Some students begin stressing over this issue as early as second semester freshman year, eager to escape shared bathrooms and the cramped dormitory life. As it so happens, my suitemates and I are currently stuck in the neverending housing debacle. The countless failed house tourings and one too many ghosted text messages has left us truly defeated. However, we are not alone. There are handfuls of students who are currently sitting in this same position, looking for an answer to the grueling question at hand: why is it so difficult to find housing off campus at Tulane?
Of course there is the initial issue of preference when it comes to actually house searching. Preference amongst Tulane students really varies based on the person or group of people living together, because everyone has different priorities when it comes to off-campus living.
The first aspect to consider of course is location. For many students like myself, the thought of running to A-quad for morning classes from any further than a few blocks away sounds like a nightmare in of itself. Being far from campus is a dealbreaker for many looking for housing, not only to avoid making the dreaded trek to classes, but also for safety measures in the Uptown area as well. Broadway street and its surrounding streets are evidently the most popular locations for off-campus living. However, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, seeing that living on the same block (or only a few blocks away) from the fraternities, glorified bars like the Boot and the Palms, and the most social locations near campus is another priority for many. On the topic of Tulane’s social scene and safety issues, many students also prioritize location because they do not necessarily feel safe stumbling several blocks home from a night out. Ordering ubers is definitely costly, so while students aim to find homes they can feasibly walk back to at night, safety is definitely a concern for Tulanians and many parents.
Preference is also linked with house style, seeing that some students would prefer to be in Uptown’s freshly renovated apartments, whereas others are perfectly content with cramming into historic, older homes with rickety patios and beads hanging from every windowsill. Going further, the budget is obviously a big one. With rent prices that only continue to rise with each passing year, it’s getting harder and harder for students to lock down manageable living situations from a financial standpoint. From someone who is attempting to sign a lease with five other girls, this issue of budget is only heightened with large groups of people because every person is uniquely inclined to spend a different amount.
Aside from struggling to weigh different priorities when it comes to actually choosing a house, locking down the deal is a whole separate story. Many of the “prime” houses close to or near campus are being scouted by various groups at the same time, and placing deals on these places often turns messy. Close off-campus locations are commonly controlled by landlords who rent out to Tulane students, and these accommodations then become passed down by friends or within Greek organizations. You will hear countless horror stories about the landlord to student pipeline, and I would argue that this may be the #1 reason that so many students remain stuck in the leasing process.
For many students, this is their first time ever dealing with “adulting” types of issues, such as getting in contact with landlords, signing leases, and paying rent. It seems that many young landlords in the area take advantage of this, whether it be by drastically raising prices, claiming students will “not find another house to accommodate their number of residents,” or generally “promising” certain properties to five different groups of students at the same time. Landlords are notorious for telling prospective renters that homes are “theirs,” yet when students email or reach out after a tour (sometimes not even 24 hours after seeing the property), they are usually met with an empty response or a disappointing letdown. My suitemates and I have been just a step away from signing a lease three times now, only to be shot down on the very day of signing! It is certainly frustrating, but sadly this reality is not uncommon.
From my experience in the search thus far, patience is really a virtue. I am still without a living situation for next year, but I have not lost hope yet. My one tip would be to really get on top of things early, but also not too early to an extent where you are at risk to be scammed. I know of many second semester freshmen who were so adminant on signing leases in the April of their first year, and ended up paying ridiculously high prices compared to the rent students are agreeing to pay this fall.
If I’m being honest, I am not sure there is one right way to go about off-campus house searching at Tulane, but here are some tips I’ve collected from members of my Greek organization so far: be on the lookout for handfuls of homes that are put on the market periodically, start contacting landlords as soon as you see these new drops, continue reaching out to landlords even if it feels repetitive (because they oftentimes won’t follow up with you!), and do not let yourself pay drastically more for a property than it is worth.
I surely hope that this issue improves so that students can expedite and even enjoy the house touring process a little bit! Locating the place where you will live with your closest friends during your final college years should be exciting and something to look forward to. I hope that I’ll report back in the coming months with a success story on locking down my off-campus living situation, but for now I must continue to navigate the cycle.