Headaches, not warm welcomes when house hunting in Rohnert Park

Looking for housing off-campus in Rohnert Park can be one of the hardest things students will do during their time at Sonoma State University. 

The surrounding area is not what some would call “a college town.” It’s more like a small town filled with cranky old people and families with small children, oh and also a bunch of wild college students. Of course, not all students are wild and not all of the old people are cranky. But it certainly feels that way when its time to look for housing.

 The first battle of finding off-campus housing is finding places that are available. There are multiple apartment complexes and various rental houses throughout Rohnert Park, as well as Cotati and Petaluma. However, the people who live in them are mostly here to stay. 

That means it requires some serious internet scouring to find those that are available when the exact time comes. If the house hunt search begins too early, then all of the currently available places will be gone when the time comes. 

So, even though it seems stressful and that the search should begin as early as possible so do not freak out months in advance.

 I needed to move into a place on Jan. 1. This meant that by the end of October, I was already looking for houses. 

What did I find? Through November, every place told me that it would be off the market by then and that I needed to check back in December to see what would be available. 

Property owners do not like it when their houses sit empty. This means that they’re trying to fill the space as soon as possible. So the further away your move in date, the more likely they are to go with someone else. The second battle of off-campus housing is price. The rental prices in the city of Rohnert Park are extremely high. 

Currently, two-bedroom houses are renting for about $2000-$2200 a month, and three bedroom houses are renting for about $2300-$2600. 

Apartments seem to range from about $1500-$2000 depending on location and number of rooms. These are some pretty high prices to pay to live in a town that does not even want students living in it. Most of the areas in Rohnert Park are safe and the buildings are in good condition. 

However, Rohnert Park is no Chino Hills and the prices of the rental homes reflect that. Chino Hills was ranked in Money Magazine’s “Best Places to Live” in 2012. 

Will Rohnert Park ever be ranked? Probably not. So needless to say, students are paying for overpriced off-campus housing because they simply have no other options.

 The city knows that students will pay what ever is asked of them because they have nowhere else to go. The third battle of finding off-campus housing is the scams. Do not fall for the scams. Most scams can be found on Craigslist– so students should beware if that’s the site they are using. 

To avoid scamming, students should drive by the property and see if there is a sign for the property management company in the lawn to make sure they match the company they talked to online. 

A good rule of thumb to go by while searching online for housing is “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” The best way to avoid these scams is to go through a property management company. There are a ton of different companies in Rohnert Park alone. 

Zillow can be a great starting place, but try and find the house you like on Zillow on a property management site. The last battle of off-campus housing is co-signers. This refers to having parents put their name on the lease and then listing their child as the tenant. 

This is important because most college students do not have credit, or if they do, it’s not substantial and they do not have stable long-term incomes that show they will be a reliable tenant. 

By putting a parent down on the lease, it makes the student appear to be a safer tenant. However, many houses in Rohnert Park do not allow for co-signers because they are trying to avoid renting their homes to a group of college students. 

Remember to ask about co-signers before getting too invested in the place. Even though it’s a struggle and a war to find housing, the victory is oh so sweet. 

Moving into off-campus housing is one of the best feelings. 

No more CSAs, no more “quiet hours” (real-life quiet hours is an entirely different beast), and you can finally nail things into the walls. Hello shelves.