The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday March 24th

Town Talk

Why finding off-campus housing is basically the Hunger Games

For all of you who have ceaselessly searched for somewhere to live off campus next year, I sympathize with you. For those of you who have yet to start the search, “may the odds be ever in your favor.”

I am a sophomore, and for the past couple of weeks I have been faced with the challenge of finding somewhere to live off campus. If you think you lose sleep over schoolwork, you wouldn’t imagine how much sleep you can lose over finding a house.

Through the process of looking for the perfect house that is not too far from campus, decent-looking and reasonably priced, I came to realize the striking similarities this venture has with the Hunger Games. 

Here’s how:

First of all, just as if you were going to compete in the Hunger Games, you need a strategy. Especially if you are going up against the Catos and Cloves of housing. You have got to be ready to snag that house before anyone else gets to it. So how and the heck do you form a strategy of this kind? I’m glad you asked. Here’s my answer. You don’t. You just walk into it blindly, bring what skills you’ve got to the table and go for it.

I felt a lot like Katniss during the moment when she is lifted into the arena. A sense of panic came over me. It was as if I was going into a game I had no idea how to play. The only mindset I had was that I was going to have to outsmart and beat harmless people around me. Because in my mind, the only way I am going to survive the next two years of college is by beating out the other people trying to get what I need: a house. (Let’s be real. What I really need is my own kitchen and a free place to park.)

This process is a bloodbath. Never has the phrase "house HUNTING" been more real to me. Everyone and their mother, literally their mother (my suitemate had her mom looking for houses too), is trying to find off-campus housing in all of the same places. (Cough. Cough. McCauley Street.) There are only so many houses around that are a comfortable walking distance to campus, and everyone knows it. It is a battle and someone is going to have to lose.

I came ready. You could be going up against some serious competition. Some housing companies operate on the basis of first come first serve. In this case, be on the lookout at all times for when properties become available so you can be the first to set a viewing date. Other companies go strictly by which group seems the most fit for the property. In that case, it is game on! Come prepared! Before the Games, come up with some good questions to ask the property broker. Look put together. They don’t want slobs living in their house. (If you are a slob, hide it). At the end of the day, you have to be the most appealing to the owner.

Though the fight is tough, the hardest part is not being able to protect the people closest to you. Despite how hard Katniss tried, she could not always be there to cover Rue’s blindside. In the end there is only one winner. Some people are going to have to lose. Houses have limited space, and inevitably someone is going to have to get cut, and that hurts. Not only for the people who don’t make it the cut, but also for the people who feel responsible for doing the cutting. I guess all you can do is let those people know how much you care about them and how sorry you are that it didn’t work out. Maybe if you’re Katniss, you can pay them tribute by putting flowers in their hair.

In the end, you realize you are not alone. Despite the fact the Games basically blew up in your face, your housing group is there to either go down with you or rise above with you. They are there to pick up the pieces after you watched so many people go down around you. It’s all or nothing when it comes to your housing group. I mean that’s why you picked to live with them, right?

There is no easy way to deal with finding housing in Chapel Hill. You always have to be on your A-game to land the house of your dreams. Some people are going to get hurt; maybe it's you. Just know, when it comes to housing, you have to look out for your own interests. I mean this is life or death, remember?

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