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With pockets of Temple students residing throughout Philadelphia’s many neighborhoods, it seems there’s no wrong way to live off campus. Should they decide to leave the confines of the residence halls or remain until they’re chased out at the end of sophomore year, there are many ways for students to find a roof over their heads.
Staying close to campus
Students who want the apartment experience, but don’t want to venture too far, have plenty of options.
Simply having one’s own bedroom in some of the close-to-campus apartments like the Edge or Oxford Village can cost in excess of $600, and that’s before additional costs of living enter the equation. Despite an easy walk to places on Main Campus like the IBC Recreation Center from his Oxford Village unit, junior Greg Lynch is looking farther away for a cheaper alternative.
“That’s really the only [negative] thing [about living at Oxford Village],” the marketing major said. “I’ve been looking at a buddy’s place where it’s $100 cheaper, and I would have my own room.”
Stepping farther back
In the case of finding off-campus housing, the difference of a few blocks can mean the difference of a few hundred dollars. According to Craigslist postings, students could find less expensive alternatives in areas like Willington Street and Carlisle Street, where renters could find housing with their own bedrooms, with monthly rent ranging from $500 to $600.
Such is the case with the “lacrosse house” near Carlisle and Diamond streets, which, despite being privately owned, has been consistently occupied by members of the university’s lacrosse team.
“It’s been passed down to us from older teammates, so that’s how I got in my living situation,” senior communications major Alex Shapiro said.
As a nonscholarship student athlete, Shapiro, along with some of her teammates, has to find her own housing and pay for it out-of-pocket. In these types of housing units, students are close to campus but must deal with landlords, and some of their neighbors may not be students.
For Shapiro, the apartment’s location and her ability to have teammates as roommates justify the cost of rent, she said.
“It’s kind of nice to have us all live in the same area, and it’s good to just get out of the dorms and live on your own,” Shapiro said. “Because I’m on a team, it’s more convenient, but even if I wasn’t, I would still want to be closer to campus. It’s just easier.”
Renting in the city
Michael Smith is a professor in the College of Education who rents property in Northern Liberties to students and nonstudents. Smith said students who live near campus pay primarily for the location, citing his own daughter – who turned down free housing in one of his properties to live in an apartment closer to campus – as an example.
“The place that she’s in is nicely appointed and newly done, but it’s a third of the size of one of my apartments that I get the same amount of rent for,” Smith said. “People are paying a premium to be able to walk to campus. There’s no doubt about it.”
“I see the building that my daughter is in and what they’re getting [in rent payments], which is more than what I’m getting for having a nicer building,” he added.
For comparison, Smith rents a three-bedroom apartment to students at $400 per month, a similar place close to campus could be $100 to $200 more, according to listings for similar properties on Craigslist.
The long commute
While some students try to find the best places to live in the city, students like Dale Schlegel, who travels from his home in Bensalem, Pa., commute.
“I didn’t want to pay the cost to live here. The drive is only 40 minutes, and a train ride is about a half hour, so living around campus was too pricey,” the senior risk management major said. “There are times where I wanted to live anywhere but home, but it’s free. It’s a roof over your head and home-cooked meals every night.”
Instead of paying for housing the last four years, most of what Schlegel has paid for involves public transportation, parking and gas. He pays $250 for a semester pass from SEPTA, and when he’s not parking in the Dirt Lot, he can spend anywhere from $6 to $12 daily in parking. Driving in rush hour can also be a drag, he said.
“Three days a week, I’m here at 8 in the morning, so I have to set my alarm for 5:30 and be out the door by 6:15, and then I have to leave earlier if it’s raining,” Schlegel said. “The drive can be rough, but you can get there in under an hour.”
For some, commuting is not an option but a necessity. In the case of senior studio art major Ben Feathers, he commutes because he does not wish to relocate his wife and daughter to North Philly. But Feathers said he wishes he had the convenience of living on campus sometimes.
“Most days it would be easier to live on campus, but my life situation keeps me from doing it,” the 23-year-old said. “I always envy the kids who live right on campus, yet they can’t seem to get all their work done and everything, even though they don’t have to commute.”
Brian Dzenis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.