Before committing to Fairfield over a year ago, I knew that senior-year beach houses were prominent here. Fairfield’s proximity to the beach is one of the selling points I heard about and saw during my tour here, as well as heard through informational sessions and even my own research on the school. It was even the final push from my parents to come here—did I want to go to school close to Canada in the snow or did I want to live by the beach my senior year?
Beyond knowing that seniors lived at these houses, I knew practically nothing about the process. I knew they were in demand, so you couldn’t wait until your senior year to get one. But other than that, I was left in the dust.
If I’m being honest, I spent much of my first year thinking that the beach houses were provided through Fairfield. So, I had to put my name on a list to show that I was interested in getting a place. I had been to the beach a few times early in the year where there were these beautiful houses along the water and I thought those were the only options too. Most of my friends thought the same thing. We would have continued to believe there was some sort of magical “list” if we didn’t know some seniors who explained the real process to us.
It’s important to know that Fairfield isn’t involved in the process. Your group is responsible for finding a real estate agent, looking for houses, touring said places and more. Also, many available homes are sold by the end of your first year. Once my group realized this, finding an agent and looking for some houses was a mad dash. I never thought, as an 18-year-old, I would be awake until midnight with a real estate agent taking notes on down payments and leases, but I had to learn quickly.
Some people’s parents are more involved in the process than others, but I think it’s important to know that you will have to find several real estate agents, no matter if you or your parents are talking to them. I say several because not every agent will have a giant list of houses available. One agent my group spoke to only had two homes available, which weren’t even in our budget, bringing me to my next point.
I mistakenly assumed that all the beach houses were a similar price to the room and board at Fairfield. This may seem ridiculous, but we have to keep in mind that I couldn’t have known any different. As I said, all I knew was that beach houses existed. The first few houses I saw weren’t bad on pricing, and when I did the math, they actually did cost what a room at Fairfield is listed for regularly. That being said, they weren’t beach houses. My parents came down to visit toward the end of the year and wanted to see some of the places I looked at.
The first words my dad said to me were, “These are off-campus houses, not beach houses. I thought the school preached the availability of all of these beach houses?” I didn’t realize it at first, but he had a point. The houses I was looking at were a hike from the beach and honestly could have just been considered off-campus housing, but that lost some of its effects.
He was right—Fairfield was all about the beach houses. My group looked at some homes along the beach after, and we quickly stopped when we saw the insane prices that were not only out of our budget but seemed ridiculous to pay when we were already paying for a college education. My group is still looking for houses out there, though it’s still quite a struggle to find a house that could be considered a beach house in an average price range.
Ultimately, the whole process seems to come down to each group. Some people have higher budgets than my group, and that’s fine. Some people might have known the entire process of getting a beach house from the moment they committed to Fairfield. Some groups may be more willing to accommodate the number of bedrooms in the house. My group’s non-negotiable was that everyone wanted their own room, so we had to scratch out houses that say they have three beds but sleep four or five.
I’m not trying to stop anyone from looking at a beach house—I’m still looking for one! I just wish Fairfield was more transparent about the process, especially considering that living on the beach is one of the more prominent attractions of Fairfield. Going into the process without knowing anything made it a lot more stressful than it needed to be. The school doesn’t even need to hold our hands through it all, but just provide a little more detail about what the process entails. It would make a world of difference if the proper steps were shared from the beginning, such as if they mentioned early on in the application and admittance process that the school isn’t involved in getting a house and giving resources for navigating off-campus beach housing.