Aloha, Hoosiers, and welcome to the virtual nerve center for your Bloomington, Indiana apartment-finding scavenger hunt! Situated on the scenic, rolling hills of southern Indiana and home of the legendary Indiana University, B-Town is one of the American Heartland’s most eclectic and energetic communities. Looking to score a primo pad in Bloomington? Then stick with us, ladies and gents, because the perfect apartment for you is just a few clicks away… Read Guide >
Not all of Bloomington’s attractions, however, are geared towards students, yuppies, and punk-folkies whose wardrobes consist largely of Ghost Mice tee-shirts. The city also features Indy’s widest inland lake, numerous beaches, parks, trails, and golf courses, a sprawling National Forest, a pair of wineries, and a bounty of fishing, biking, spelunking, kayaking, and hiking destinations. It’s a cornucopia of fun for all ages!
The Lay of the Land
Bloomington can be classified into two general areas: the 2-3 mile radius surrounding the campus/downtown area where the city’s students, faculty, and young urbanites tend to live, and the outlying rural areas, inhabited largely by longtime residents, families, and retirees. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you fall into the former category. After all, if you travel more than a handful of miles in any direction from the city’s inner core, you’ll find yourself surrounded by dairy farms, John Deere combine harvesters, and nary an apartment in sight. Finding room and board as a hired hand, however, is possible, but probably entails heavy lifting/shoveling/sweating. But maybe you’re into that.
Numerous neighborhoods in Bloomington, including the historic Near Westside area, Prospect Hill, Bryan Park, and Elm Heights are located within easy walking/biking distance of downtown and campus. These areas offer an array of living quarters ranging from basic studios for $600-$700 to spacious multi-BR units approaching a grand. If you’ve got a hefty bankroll and want to live among the hustle, bustle, and charm of the city’s urban core, check out one of the coveted luxury lofts and apartments downtown.
Tips and Tricks for Apartment Scavengers
A few things to keep in mind when scouring the listings for the perfect apartment:
Because the town is occupied largely by transient renters, there is a definite “renting season” in Bloomington. Most leases commence in August (when the fall semester begins) and last for a full year, and most landlords require tenants to renew their leases for the upcoming year by March. In other words, you should begin your apartment hunt no later than March, because apartments tend to fill up quickly once the start of the academic year is in sight.
If you show up in town during a non-peak time of the renting year, be prepared to either settle for a second-best apartment or spend some time on one of those tedious waiting lists. During the school year many apartments, especially the modestly-priced ($700 or less) crash pads near campus, are at full capacity and are unable to accept newbies until the summer break.
Renting requirements aren’t too strict in Bloomington, but you’ll still need proof of income and a positive renting/credit history to score a place of your own. Students with no renting history, no income, and no bank account (hey, at least you’ve got yourself a cupboard full of Ramen noodles!) will obviously need a co-signer (aka “parent”) to sign the dotted line for them.
Be sure to give your new place a solid inspection before moving in. More than 60 percent of residents are temporary rather than permanent fixtures in B-Town, and apartments turn over constantly. Take the time to make sure the previous tenants didn’t leave any unwanted surprises behind them, like stains or blemishes on the walls, ceilings, or floors, faulty appliances, or a three-piece folk punk band playing Minutemen cover songs in the bedroom.
Bumming around Bloomington
It’s quite possible for students, faculty, and staff living near campus to survive in Bloomington without a vehicle of their own, but we don’t recommend it. Most city streets include bike paths and are largely walker-friendly, but keep in mind that winters in the Midwest can be brutal with temperatures from November through March frequently dropping below freezing, and you might not enjoy pedaling through the streets in six inches of snow. The city does offer a serviceable bus system, but routes run only 1-2 times an hour, making the need for your own set of wheels that much greater. Fortunately, traffic is minimal and even the gridlock surrounding campus is child’s play compared to big-city traffic jams.
And now it’s time for the fun part (no, not watching highlights of the many times the Hoosiers’ basketball squad has stomped rival Purdue over the years) – finding you some dynamite dwellings in Southern Indiana’s most cherished city! So welcome to B-Town and happy hunting!
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