Off-campus housing is something most students look forward to after spending two years in the dorms, and there is a lot of housing available to students at a range of prices. Apartments are most common at Illinois State University, although some choose to rent houses or townhomes. Most off-campus apartments are managed by one of three main realty companies: Sami, Young America Realty, and First Site Apartments. Unfortunately, almost all students' experiences with realtors in the Bloomington-Normal area have been negative. Realty companies are only interested in getting money from students and do not treat them as true renters. In dealing with leasing agents, students have complained about almost everything from maintenance not doing its job to tenants being charged with ridiculous fees.
Open leasing starts in September, and students are pressured into signing for an apartment almost a whole year in advance. This can be a problem because students may have roommate problems later on in the year or may not end up attending ISU the following fall. Some high-end apartments have gyms and pools included in the monthly fee, while some apartments have utilities included, which can help cut down on costs. It is important to do research when looking for an apartment, and don't be afraid to wait until later in the year to actually sign for one.