Staff Writer Samantha Seiff asked fellow Bwoggers for the scoop on off-campus housing resources. Together they came up with this non-comprehensive list for all you house-hunting honeys.

For many Columbia University students, getting ready for school this post-pandemic fall means leaving the comfy (if not infantilizing) hometown nest. After spending a year at home myself, I must admit that the prospect of living off-campus is enticingly adult. 

Domiciliary independence so close we can taste it, my future roommate and I have been searching high and low—and east and west of Broadway—for an apartment to call home for the next year. But the search has not been easy. Neither of us has been particularly connected to the Columbia community throughout the pandemic, and as such lack the perspective and Facebook-savviness to get much more creative in our housing search. 

I figure that our housing struggle is not unique, so I reached out to fellow Bwoggers to get the low-down on housing resources available to Columbia students. What follows is by no means a comprehensive list, but should offer a glimpse into the world of off-campus housing resources—or at least the resources that Bwoggers thought worth checking out! 

  1. “Columbia OCHA”
    1. What it is: A Columbia-run site of listings for rentals and sublets. Some are Columbia-owned units and others are individual listings.
    2. Pros: Lots of options for distance, neighborhood, building amenities, pricing, etc., and you can sign up for alerts.
    3. Cons: Limited to what Columbia wants to have on the site.
  2. “Columbia University Off-Campus Housing”
    1. What it is: A public Facebook group dedicated to conversations about Columbia off-campus housing (as indicated by the group name).
    2. Pros: There are tons of students on the page openly seeking roommates for the upcoming semester—if you are in the market for a roommate but do not have strong ties to the Columbia community, this seems like a great potential starting place. Lots of students advertise their apartments on this page to prospective subletters; I’ve even seen apartment furniture pop up on this page for sale at discounted prices.
    3. Cons: This page is unmoderated, and as such gets a lot of spam content—students should be careful not to interact with catfish-y/scammy profiles and ads.
  3. “CASA”: Columbia Area Scholars Apartments/Rentals
    1. What it is: A cohort of four apartment buildings, all within a couple blocks of Columbia, managed like a small family business.
    2. Pros: The landlord who oversees the four properties is incredibly communicative and lists which apartment units are available on his website; buildings are all close to campus, but are still off-campus.
    3. Cons: These apartments are all in high demand, and as such can be difficult to nab with the wave of students seeking off-campus housing coming into the fall semester.
  4. “Buy Sell Trade”
    1. What it is: Student-run Facebook groups to buy/sell/trade clothing, furniture, and more.
    2. Pros: Cheaper than shopping retail and people offer really cool stuff.
    3. Cons: The clothing sizes in the Barnard group range on the small side (but maybe that will change?).
  5. “Streeteasy”
    1. What it is: A website and an app that lets you search for apartments for sale or rent in the NYC/NJ area. Think Zillow, but specializing in the NYC rental market. 
    2. Pros: Easy to filter for price, location, bedrooms/bathrooms, and very specific amenities (like elevator, laundry in building, etc.)
    3. Cons: I feel like it’s hit or miss with which listings allow for a guarantor. As a student, you’ll most likely need a guarantor (someone who signs onto the lease with you), and it can be frustrating if you think you’ve found the perfect unit only to speak with the broker and discover they don’t allow guarantors. 

While I’m sure there are many more housing resources out there, these are the five pages and services considered most ubiquitous and helpful by Bwoggers. We hope you find them useful too. Happy house-hunting! 

Featured image courtesy of Columbia Summer