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How to get off-campus housing quickly

Return to in-person learning in fall quarter means more returning students in need of housing

A Hammer Properties NW sign located on North Garden Street in Bellingham, Wash. Hammer Properties NW is one of the many property management companies college students use to find housing in Bellingham. // Courtesy of Adam Rapaz

With Western Washington University students expected to return to campus in the fall, the opportunity to enroll in in-person classes after months of courses almost entirely on Zoom will finally be available. However, with students’ return comes the need for student housing. 

For students not planning to live on campus this fall, off-campus housing becomes a necessity for students planning to live in Bellingham while attending classes. Although with fall quarter rapidly approaching, many students will find that time is running out to secure a place within the next few months. 

No need to worry, though, as there are many options available for students to find the right place to live and with plenty of time to do so.

Joe Tedrow, real estate broker and property manager at Hammer Properties NW, said that in a situation where time is not an issue, it is best that students begin the off-campus housing search process in the springtime. Tedrow said a majority of Hammer Properties’ rentals are occupied by college students.

“Springtime is best to secure housing for a fall move-in date,” Tedrow said. 

According to Western's off-campus living site, it is best to start looking for places six to nine months before your planned move-in date. The site added it is the best time to look because spring and fall are times when people tend to be moving out the most; therefore more places become available to lease. 

However, if that’s not possible, there is still a chance to secure a place to live without too much difficulty.

One option available to help find housing on short notice is roommate-seeking Facebook groups. 

Cody Hutton, an incoming third-year political science student at Western, is in a non-Western affiliated Facebook group titled “Bellingham Student Housing.” In this group, students can look for off-campus housing by posting ads of themselves to help find a place to live. 

“This housing group has been somewhat helpful, providing some leads and options, but it also is quite popular so good housing opportunities come and go quickly,” Hutton said. 

Despite its faults, some students have found success in finding roommates through Facebook groups.

Abbey Spivey, a third-year Western student, found success in the student Facebook group for housing, as she found one of her current roommates through it. 

Additionally, Spivey said there are other ways to find roommates to live with, such as asking through mutual friends or forming a group with other people who are also looking for housing. 

Another way to find housing is by taking advantage of off-campus housing events, which can be found on Western’s off-campus living website. The off-campus living office hosts events such as “roommate speed-dating,” where people can meet other students looking for roommates in a fun, fast-paced environment via Zoom. 

Another event hosted by the off-campus living office, titled “Off Campus Living Info for first year students” is an informational session on how to stay connected and involved, despite not living on campus. 

When searching for housing, being mindful of landlords and property management companies is also important. 

How to get off-campus housing (2).HEIC

Landlords Erik and Monica Bell have recently learned the ins and outs of house hunting in Bellingham. // Courtesy of Erik Bell


Erik Bell and his wife, Monica Bell, have been landlords of a single-family home in West Seattle for six years and counting. This experience prepared them to become landlords to college students for the past year in Bellingham, specifically in the South Hill neighborhood.

Erik Bell said the answer to an efficient housing search lies in setting specific priorities beforehand and searching for a house that fits all of those properties effectively.

“Talk to your parents or older friends and family and folks familiar with the local market to see what their take is on how realistic your priorities are,” Erik Bell said. “Oftentimes their rental and living experience can help you avoid making rookie mistakes that may lock you into a living situation that really isn't well suited for your wants or happiness.”

If you want to check out available apartments and homes for lease, go to Western’s off-campus housing marketplace


Nina Claflin

 Nina Claflin is a third-year student at WWU studying public relations. She is writing for campus beat, specifically in student news & issues. She enjoys biking, fitness, hiking and reading novels in her spare time. She is also a twin (even though they look NOTHING alike!) She is excited to be on the staff for The Front this summer, and she can’t wait to come into touch with the journalism and campus community! If you wish to contact her, her email is Nina.TheFront@gmail.com. 


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