Wednesday, 30 May 2012

House hunting in Bologna

Finding a roof over your head is one of the first things you need to do when you arrive.

How do students nail down apartments?

SAIS Bologna works with a housing consultant, Salvatore, who has helped SAISers find apartments for more than three decades. (You may remember he helped my colleague Nelson Graves find a flat when he was a student at SAIS).

One is not required to use Salvatore's service. You can find accommodation on your own. If you decide to go that route, it's easier if you speak some Italian.

Smile and the world smiles with you
Students can start signing up to visit apartments from August 15; you have to be here in person to sign up. Raffaella at the reception will direct you to the sign-up sheet. Then starting on August 16 Salvatore will take students on tours to look at apartments.

August 15 is a major holiday in Italy -- Ferragosto -- and most bolognesi will be out of town. The city will be very quiet that day and most shops will be closed. Some will remain shuttered for longer that week or perhaps for the entire week. But don't worry because you will find places to do your shopping or to eat.

Housing works on a first-come, first-served basis. Be sure you sign up for a housing tour as soon as you arrive. Salvatore normally manages to show students the available rooms within a day or two. Then the ball is in your court.

Once you find the place you like, you'll be required to sign a contract. You will be asked to pay a one-time finder's fee, a deposit and the first month's rent. Be sure you come prepared and that you also bring your passport and visa.

How do students who want to share an apartment find a housemate or housemates?

Some students already know each other, but many don't. Some will meet through the Facebook group that has been formed for the incoming class.

You'd be amazed by the number of life-long friendships that have been formed because people were standing in the line together waiting to view one of Salvatore's apartments.

Here is a video that shows how some of this year's students found accommodation last fall.

The cost of housing is spelled out in our Incoming Student Guidebook. Pretty important reading.

Amina Abdiuahab