Common Abbreviations & Descriptive Terms (these terms are often explained in apartment and housing online sites)
The following abbreviations and descriptive terms are commonly used in “For Rent” and “For Sale” ads in newspapers and magazines:
- AC/H = Air-conditioning and Heat
- BR or BDR = Bedroom
- BA or BTH = Bathroom
- ½ BA or BTH = Bathroom with no shower or bathtub.
- Util. = Utilities include gas, electric, and water.
- TH = Townhouse.
- W/D = Washer/dryer; W/D conn. = Washer/Dryer connections (washer and dryer can be used in the apartment).
- Dep. = Deposit. (This is an extra months’ rent or less. This is a security deposit to make sure you pay for any damage done while you live in the apartment. If you leave the apartment the way you find it, after your lease is finished, you should be refunded the money.)
- First/Last = First and/or Last months’ rent is required as part of the deposit.
- “3/2/2” = 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 car garage. In a house or apartment ad, when you see two or three numbers separated by slashes, the first number always indicates the number of bedrooms; the second number is the number of bathrooms; and the third number (if there is one) indicates how many cars will fit into the garage.
- Sq. ft. = Square Feet. The size of apartments and houses is usually given in square feet. One (1) square foot equals 0.09 square meters; 1 square meter equals 10.76 square feet. There are several websites available that will convert square feet to square meters, such as science made simple.
What to Consider
In general, there are many things to consider when choosing a place to live in Houston. Among the factors you may wish to consider are:
- Closeness to the University: In Houston, “closeness” is not only measured in physical distance, but in the time it takes to travel that distance. It may take less time to drive from a place that is located near a highway than one that is closer in physical distance, but where travel must occur on city streets. On the other hand, the cost of gas may be a factor, negating actual travel time. Also, some highways (e.g., Beltway 8, Westpark Toll Road, etc.) are toll roads, so you will need to factor in that cost as well. If you are going to depend on public transportation, is the housing close to bus routes? It is a good idea to travel to and from the University to the proposed housing unit during the time you think you will be most likely be commuting to see what the traffic is like.
- Cost of the Housing: Prices vary greatly according to the proximity to the center of town or other desirable locations, the neighborhood in which the housing is located, the condition of the housing, the amenities offered, etc. Generally speaking, housing “inside the loop” (within the borders of Loop 610), near the Galleria, and near the Medical Center will be higher priced than other housing, and the farther from the center of town, the cheaper housing gets.
- Neighborhood Characteristics: Although neighborhoods in Houston tend to flow into one another and there are people from every country in the world here, there are enclaves where people of different ethnic backgrounds tend to congregate. In these areas, it may be possible to find resources such as you might find back home, such as halal meat stores, Oriental grocery stores, sari shops, places of worship, etc. Also, different areas may feel safer than other areas. It is a good idea to visit a proposed housing unit at different times of the day and night to see if you feel comfortable there.
- Resources for Children: If you are bringing your children with you, you may wish to consider the type and proximity of schools available, the availability and location of daycare, the availability and location of playgrounds, etc. Attendance to public schools is based on the area in which you live, and their quality varies. Private schools usually do not have geographic requirements, but you must decide how you will get the child to school and how that fits into your commute. Some apartment complexes and/or neighborhoods have playgrounds, pools, tennis courts, basketball courts, etc. available; others do not.
- Length of Stay: The type of housing you seek may depend on how long you plan to be here. If you only plan to stay a few days or one or two weeks, you will probably want to stay in a motel or hotel. If you are staying for a few weeks or few months, you may wish to consider a corporate apartment or suite. Most regular apartments have one-year leases, but some offer six- or nine-month leases. A few apartments will offer month-to-month leases, but you will probably have to pay extra for it. You probably will not want to consider buying a house, condominium or townhouse unless you will be here at least more than one year.