Students hoping to come to Tahlequah a few days before classes start at Northeastern State University Aug. 21, and find an apartment at that time, may have few choices.

Many of the more desirable rental units near the campus already have been leased, but the number of available living spaces dwindles as the start of school approaches.

However, single students and families wanting to live in campus housing still have the chance to do so, said John Wichser, NSU director of Auxiliary Services.

Wichser is familiar with the territory: He was director of campus housing before taking his current position.

“We have no problems accommodating somebody up to the first week of classes,” he said.

Like most college communities, Tahlequah has a variety of housing options available - rooms, studios, apartments (in apartment complexes, garage apartments, or a section of a house), duplexes, fourplexes, mobile homes, houses. Many older houses near the campus have been carved up into small apartments for students who need a location where they can walk to class and to shop.

Students with pets have a harder time finding a place to rent. Some renters won’t allow smokers, and others require references. The amount of deposit varies, according to the landlord and the price of the unit. Some come with all bills paid, while renters must be prepared to pay all the utilities in others.

For those wanting off-campus housing, if they haven’t already found a place they probably should be hunting.

“It is tightening up. We are very tight already,” said Nelda Murphy, of Red Eagle Property Leasing. “We are probably 97 percent occupied. We are getting, every day, probably 20 students coming through, at least.”

About 50 percent of Red Eagle properties have student tenants, while the rest are working singles and families.

Ray Goode, of Goode Properties, has about the same ratio of student tenants. He’s also almost out of available rental space.

“I have one duplex side left,” he said. “I’ve got one duplex that I’m still building.”

Goode is receiving numerous calls about his property from students about to come to town.

“I’ve had them calling for three months,” he said. “Mine go quickly. They stay full all year-round.”

All of his duplexes and apartments are new, and most within walking distance of campus - an important consideration for students who lack transportation.

His non-student tenants include NSU and public school teachers, and a military recruiter.

He advises students who want to change their living arrangements to look for a new apartment a month or two before their lease is up. Murphy agreed.

“We have apartments, houses, mobile homes, duplexes. We have them all,” she said. “When they come in, we just tell them what they have. Sometimes it’s exactly what they’re looking for when they see it. Some people come in and rent right away, some we have to work with for a couple of months.”

Tim Dickey, a NSU junior majoring in theater, is staying in the house he has occupied with his family for some time.

“I have a wife and two children. She’s already graduated. We rent a house off-campus,” he said.

The three-bedroom house costs them $500 per month.

That’s in the mid-range for rentals. Classified ads in Sunday’s edition of the Daily Press listed houses running between $175 and $800, apartments from $235 and up, and mobile homes from $275 and up.

Dickey considers his house rent reasonable.

“It’s walking distance and I walk to most of my classes,” he said.

He and his wife didn’t have much difficulty finding the house.

“It wasn’t hard. You’ve just got to know when to hit the market,” he said. “Closer to campus, the houses get smaller, and they’re harder to get.”

Dickey said people with children may have to look longer, because some landlords discourage families. He also thinks rentals are more expensive close to campus. But that isn’t necessarily so, Murphy said.

For example, a two-bedroom unit close to campus rents for the same fee as other two-bedroom units she manages.

For freshmen, living off-campus isn’t an option. But Jaclyn Hicks, of Hugo, attending this week’s “Freshman Connection” event on campus, doesn’t mind that freshmen are required to live at the university. “If we had a choice, I would still live on campus,” she said. “I live about three hours away, and I wanted to live on campus to meet people.”

She considered her options early, and in May chose to move into the newly-completed Seminary Suites. She’ll share her suite with three other girls. She hasn’t seen her new digs yet, but expects to like it.

At NSU, single students can choose to live in a traditional residence hall for $900 per semester, or in the new Seminary Suites for $1,790 per semester.

“Those are private room suites. They come in two- and four-bedroom units,” Wichser said.

Housing for married students, or single parent families, ranges from $333 to $590 per month, depending on the complex and the number of bedrooms.

Those units have kitchen facilities, while residence hall students can purchase a meal plan that allows them to eat at any university-operated dining area.

The university has 88 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments an

d 1,800 beds for single students. “We have some single parents who live here with their children,” Wichser said.

The family apartments and single rooms have 90 percent or higher occupancy.

Wichser said one new service students will see this fall is free washers and dryers in the residence halls, ending students’ frustrations when they run out of quarters and have no clean clothing for the next day.

And parents, take note: “There’s no reason for the kids to bring their dirty laundry home any more,” he said.

Murphy said whether her prospective tenants are students or other people from the community, one rule remains predictable. “The nicer homes go fast,” she said.

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