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When to Start Looking For Student Apartments as an OSU Student

By Bella

As an OSU student myself, I understand that searching for student housing at Ohio State can feel very overwhelming. Balancing academics, work, and social life can make prioritizing the apartment search challenging.

At Rambler Columbus, our leasing team has assisted many students in finding student apartments near OSU, and have advised many students and parents on when to begin the process. 

Read Next: 7 Best Student Apartments in Columbus, Ohio Near OSU

Housing timelines can vary for everyone, particularly in the dynamic Columbus market. In this article, we will guide you through the essential information to identify the timeline that is best for you.

Girl looking back and smiling as she is walking on the ohio state campus We will cover:

When Should I Start Looking for Student Apartments near OSU?

What is the typical student housing timeline in Columbus?

The timing of leasing an apartment at OSU can vary depending on your priorities, but most students want to secure a lease for the upcoming school year during the prior Fall semester.

For instance, if you’re a freshman at OSU, you’ll probably sign a lease for your sophomore year a few months after starting school in the fall of your freshman year.

The majority of newer off-campus apartments in Columbus near The Ohio State University start leasing in the spring or summer of the year preceding the next leasing period. So, leasing for 2025-2026 typically begins in the spring of 2024.

April of the previous year usually marks the earliest opportunity to sign a lease, with November or December seeing a surge in units being sold out. Demand-heavy newer apartments, particularly those near OSU campus, tend to fill up faster than expected by students.

Rising upperclassmen often sign leases even earlier than the typical Fall semester timeline. Some secure leases as early as April of the previous year, coinciding with the opening of leasing for many apartment buildings, ensuring they secure prime units. That’s right –  a current sophomore might be signing a lease in their Spring semester for housing they’ll live in during their senior year!

While it might seem excessive, upperclassmen do this due to firsthand experience of the chaotic fall leasing season. Signing in the spring enables students to lock in the best rates and highly coveted units.

For a clearer grasp of why students commit to early leasing, it’s crucial to outline the pricing structure. Also, we’ll discuss the advantages of early leasing and the correlation between the lease signing time and its impact on monthly payments.

Can signing earlier save me money?

​​If you’re an Ohio State student, you’ve probably encountered advertisements from student housing complexes using phrases like “our lowest rates” or “almost sold out, lease now!” While these statements might seem cliché, they do hold some truth.

In newer developments close to OSU, most complexes offer their most competitive rates if you sign early in the leasing schedule.

Typically, these apartment complexes categorize individual bedroom spaces into tiers, each tier with varying rates. The initial leases are offered at first-tier rates, which feature the lowest prices. Once the first tier is filled, subsequent spots in the second tier are leased at slightly higher rates. This sequence continues until the entire building is completely leased.

As each tier of apartments gets leased, the monthly rent per bed for student housing tends to rise, typically increasing by $10 to $20. However, some properties might see a more substantial jump in bed prices between tiers, so it’s important to investigate a property’s tier structure.

Opting to secure a lease for your apartment as early as possible often guarantees the most favorable price, considering the tier system. Yet, there’s a catch.

Leasing at the very last minute, particularly during the months just before the move-in period (typically summer), might land you a first-tier deal.

This occurs because apartment complexes rush to lease the remaining beds before move-in dates. To fill these last vacancies, they frequently offer deals and discounts until all rooms are occupied, avoiding any unleased units. Ultimately, receiving some rent is preferred to having units sit unoccupied.

Yet, securing lower rates isn’t assured, and during this time crunch, your choices will significantly dwindle. Students who lease early enjoy a wide selection of floor plans and units, while those leasing towards the end of the period will be left with only a handful of remaining apartments to choose from.

Read Next: Student vs. Traditional Apartments at OSU: Which is Right for Me?

Leasing early also gives you a better chance of securing block housing. Block housing is when you and a large group of friends lease at multiple units near or next to each other on the same floor. For example, if you and 15 of your friends sign for a “block,” you won’t all be in the same unit, but divided up over multiple units on the same floor so you’re no more than a few feet away from each other. Block housing is most common at new developments. To learn more about block housing, be sure to read our article, Everything You Need to Know About Block Housing at Rambler. 

Another important consideration is that occasionally, apartment complexes with a limited number of beds (less than 100 units or 500 beds) or a variety of floor plans might choose to not implement the tier system entirely. In such cases, all units of a similar type would be leased at a uniform rate, with the exception of premium options. These premium units might have larger windows, balcony spaces, additional square footage, and more. However, these offerings can differ from one apartment complex to another, so it’s advisable to ask before finalizing your lease!

Read Next: 15 Questions to Ask While Touring a Student Property in Columbus, Ohio

Taking all of this into consideration, the best deals on student housing near OSU are typically available very early or very late in the leasing timeline.

two girls walking in the german village near osu

Should I Lease Early? 

By now, you might wonder: do the perks of leasing early justify the hype? Columbus offers numerous apartment choices for students… is the urgency to lease so far ahead actually valid?

Ultimately, signing early grants you the widest array of options at the most favorable price point. However, we acknowledge that committing as early as 18 months in advance might not suit everyone. Perhaps you’re uncertain about your future roommates or contemplating studying abroad. Whatever the reason, our suggestion stands: once you’re prepared, sign the lease as soon as you can.

In the end, leasing an apartment at the very last minute remains an option – the only true deadline is the move-in date, since there is an ample supply of housing near OSU’s campus available. However, the crucial question is whether you’ll be comfortable in the remaining apartment options by August.

The vacancies in August often represent rooms that previous students didn’t find appealing, and there’s a reason behind this lack of desirability. Typically, these rooms are the least accommodating for students; they may be small or belong to apartment complexes with poor reviews and distant locations from campus.

When there’s an opportunity to secure a lease for an equally affordable yet far better apartment, people are naturally inclined to sign early, sparking the hype around leasing season.

Overall, there are several benefits to signing a lease early at an student housing apartment near OSU, including: 

  • Competitive pricing 
  • Greater choice of apartment 
  • Greater floorplan choice
  • Newer, more luxury amenities 
  • Greater flexibility in roommate choice

Read Next: 5 Benefits of Signing an Individual Lease in Columbus

By now, you’ve probably determined an approximate time when you might consider signing your lease based on the factors mentioned earlier.

We suggest allowing yourself an extra month or so before your intended date to kick off your search. For instance, if you aim to be on the earlier side of the leasing schedule (around August of the previous year), consider starting your search for potential roommates in June or July. Begin touring properties as soon as you’ve outlined the apartment features you desire. Even if you find yourself nearing the later stages of the leasing schedule, it’s advisable to allocate at least a month to assess various locations, apartments, and potential roommates.

Read next: How to Find a College Roommate at Ohio State

Discovering the ideal apartment to match your lifestyle in Columbus might require some time. Starting your search early is a wise approach to broaden your choices.

Now that you have an understanding of when to start looking for housing, you’re probably thinking about how much to budget to live in Columbus. Check out our article How Much Does it Cost to Live near The Ohio State University?

We hope this article serves as a starting point for your exploration of student apartments in Columbus, OH. For more details about Rambler Columbus, feel free to explore our amenities and floor plans or reach out to our leasing team. They’re eager to assist with any questions regarding housing!


Bella is the Leasing & Marketing Team Leader at Rambler Columbus. She graduated from Northern Kentucky University. She is a lover of concerts and iced matcha lattes from Daydreamer!

April 04, 2024


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