I can’t believe I’ve been a junior for over half the year already, and I haven’t yet talked about that ominous transition – living off campus. Hopkins guarantees housing only for your first two years (though if you get there early enough, and you really want to, you can live in the dorms), and so after two blissful years in AMR II, and then Charles Commons, it was time to move off campus.

I saddled up with two friends from my sorority – a popular place to find upperclassmen roommates – and we began the apartment hunt around October or November of our sophomore year. We were pretty early in relation to most of the class, but it definitely allowed us to get the best possible options for our housing. We had a little trouble as a group of three people – one, two, and four bedrooms are definitely the most common (just like in on-campus housing), but we eventually found our fabulous building.

The roomies and me!

We got a ton of our information from the Off Campus Housing Page on the JHU website – it had super helpful comparison charts for some of the more popular apartment options around campus, which included info like the average walking time to campus, cost, utilities, and amenities. There was also a fantastic tool to input your needs (number of roommates, maximum rent), to narrow down which buildings you should look into.

Here’s our apartment building!

We definitely got lucky in finding our place – it’s right across the street from campus, a block down from the Baltimore Museum of Art, and just a 5-minute walk to the library. What was most important to my mom was, of course, safety. Our apartment is actually closer to campus than Homewood Apartments, a sophomore dorm, so we were well within the security patrol (as most apartments are, anyway). We are a little slim on amenities (no rooftop terrace like the Academy, for example), but for the three of us, it is perfect, and really feels like a home.

In terms of furnishing our place, the Free & For Sale Page was the best possible thing to get our beds, couches, dining tables and chairs, and everything else for cheap. It was a bit of a puzzle figuring out how to get the couch into the building, but that’s what college is about, right? Figuring stuff out without your parents holding your hand. I even scored a fantastic Ikea dresser for like $20 and a desk for $10. Sure, we had to put in a bit of work to outfit our fantastic abode, but now, in the middle of the year, our living room couch is one of my favorite places.

Finding all our apartment furniture for cheap made me feel like I was truly living the Art of the Deal.

On the other hand, some of my close friends have actually stayed in the dorms during their junior and senior years! I talked to my friend from Model UN, Syed, about his experience staying in Homewood Apartments this and last year, when he was a junior and now a senior. Syed studied abroad in Tokyo (wow!) during his sophomore year, and he said, “it would have been very hard to coordinate apartment tours/arranging a lease with someone for the upcoming Junior year because I was in Tokyo. I decided to not go through all of that work, and just let housing know that I wanted Homewood. I stayed in Homewood when I returned during Junior year, and was impressed by how well-maintained and newly renovated it was – better than many people’s off-campus apartments. So, when it came time for senior year – I just said that I wanted to stay in Homewood, but getting a bigger room with a separate kitchen and living room, and housing made it happen, and I’m a happy camper.”

Here’s Homewood Apartments!

Syed isn’t the majority of upperclassmen, but for him, it was perfect. He didn’t have to worry about furnishing his apartment, and since he stayed on campus last summer, Homewood’s 12-month leases were perfect for him. That’s one of my favorite things about Hopkins – if you want something, and you ask for it, there’s usually a way to make it happen. I busted my butt for cheap furniture and love my apartment off campus, but Syed took it easy in finding housing while abroad, and also loves his place on campus. Housing is such an integral part of your college experience – you might as well find the place that makes your time there really feel like a home.