Looking for a place to live off-campus your   senior senior year  can be totally overwhelming. All of a sudden, you have to think about things like utilities and asbestos and whether you REALLY want to pay for cable (note: you don’t). Once you do find a place that fits your basic needs, it’s tempting to just slap your signature on a lease agreement and be done with it. However, there are a variety of other factors to consider—things that might seem inconsequential now but will frustrate you later.

First, the basics. You may think you’ll be able to cope with living 15-20 minutes from campus, but try telling yourself it was a good idea when you’re dashing out the door with 10 minutes to get to class…and then that ONE awful traffic light adds three minutes to your commute. Distance matters, even                  if living close to campus seems like an unnecessary luxury.

It’s also important to factor in the neighborhood around you. If you like going on late-night food runs, are there options nearby to satisfy your munchies? The POD is no longer available. Alternatively, if you need peace and quiet when you’re trying to sleep, you might opt for a quieter neighborhood instead of that cheap-yet-noisy apartment complex.

One of my biggest regrets about my housing choice was the apartment complex’s no-pets rule. You might think pets are non-essential. Well, you know what? If you’re an animal lover like me and just really want a fluffy friend to greet you at home, you are going to want a pet. And if you choose a place that bans pets, you are going to want to sneak a pet into your home. And then you will pay fines. Moral of the story: if you think you MIGHT want a pet, plan for it.

I’ve truly come to realize that the most important hidden factors of house hunting involve the home environment. Kitchen space can be especially problematic. If you plan on living with several roommates, are there enough cabinets for food AND dishes? What about counter space for the (inevitable) collection of wine bottles you’ll accrue? Will the fridge serve your needs? Considering this now will help you keep the peace next year.