Housing is always a top concern when moving to a new place. There are a number of realtors who focus on student housing in Bloomington, so set aside some time to do online research.
The most cost-effective strategy might be to try to find roommates and rent a larger apartment or house together. The Anthropology Graduate Student Association Facebook page is a great way to connect with others, even before you move to town. If you would prefer to live by yourself or are moving with your family, there are a number of websites that will be of help to you.
Bloomington is a fairly safe town and there are no areas that should unilaterally be avoided. However, if you like a quiet space to live and study you might avoid renting an apartment across from the stadium or behind the fraternity and sorority houses on 3rd Street. If you are willing to make the commute, looking just outside the Bloomington city limits may provide a cheaper option with more space.
Look for housing sooner rather than later. You will be able to find a place to live if you leave the task until the end August, but you will also end up paying more for the wait. Location and proximity to campus factor into price, so see what is available—and once you decide, sign the paperwork. If you are planning an early visit to Bloomington, walk around to see what is available, pick up a newspaper, check online, talk to locals, and look for free seasonal booklets concerning rentals.
Student Legal Services is free if you are a full time student at Indiana University and have paid your fees. They offer several services concerning housing: “ SLS will review your lease before you sign, help you with maintenance concerns as your lease proceeds, and represent you in court if your landlord sues you or if you need a court’s help when your landlord gets attached to your damage deposit.” The state of Indiana is known for having laws that do little to protect renters—so be sure to read your lease carefully.