There are hundreds of apartment complexes in and around Houston. There are many things to consider when deciding on an apartment, including:
- Location: Check out the driving time to the University as well as the actual distance; it may be faster to drive from an apartment off a major highway than one where you must use side streets.
- Security: Does it have a fence? Is there gated access (by code or by card)? Is there a guard or alarm system? Do you feel safe there at night?
- Utilities: Most apartment rents do not include electricity. Electricity is usually billed separately and will come directly from the electric company, with whom you will need to set up an account. Many also charge separately for water, sewer, and garbage collection. Water, sewer, and garbage may be included with the rent as an additional, variable charge. While there will be telephone connections in the apartment, telephone service will also be billed separately from the telephone company. Long-distance service is a separate charge, which may be a part of the regular telephone bill or maybe a separate bill from the long-distance provider. (most students don’t have landlines anymore).
- Television: Most apartments have connections to an antenna, with which you will be able to receive the major TV networks and some local channels (about ten channels). Some apartments offer free basic cable TV, which provides access to a number of other TV channels. Premium channels (HBO, Showtime, etc.) will be extra. Another option is a satellite dish, which allows access to different channels in greater numbers. Many complexes have special rules concerning satellite dishes (or may forbid them altogether), so you will need to check with your complex concerning this option.
- Internet Access: Currently, most apartment complexes do not have high-speed Internet access, although this feature is becoming more common, especially in newer complexes. You can make arrangements for Internet access through a variety of servers through either dial-up service or cable access. Some apartment complexes (usually newer complexes) offer dedicated phone lines for computer internet access, but for most, you will need to arrange for the installation of a separate line, if this is what you want. You will need to check with your landlord to see if they have any rules concerning the addition of extra phone lines.
- Location within the complex: Some apartment complexes charge less for apartments that are considered to be in less desirable locations in the complex. For example, some complexes charge less for apartments that are next to the parking lot because of the noise, or more for a first-floor apartment because of the convenience. You may wish to ask if any of the apartments are discounted because of the location within the complex.
- Amenities: There are many “extras” available at some complexes. You first need to decide if the option matters to you and then find a place that fulfills your needs. For example, is there a washer/dryer in the unit; if not, are washer/dryer connections available, or is there a laundry on the premises? Do they take pets (and does that matter to you)? Is there a fireplace? Is there a gym on the property?