April 9, 2004

Tired of dorms, students begin apartment search

With the onset of spring quarter, students in the College are turning their thoughts to living arrangements for the next academic year, acting rapidly to find apartments.

People began scrambling for apartments around Tuesday, April 6, when K&G released a list of apartments available for rent for the coming academic year. With 400 apartments leased annually, K&G is considered the dominant realtor for students in the University.

"Things seem to be going pretty fast," said John McGarry, a manager at K&G. He added that there is no particular neighborhood or area of Hyde Park where rent is more expensive. He said that availability, proximity to campus, and quality of facilities were several characteristics that determine how high a monthly rent may be.

The most expensive apartment rented by K&G features seven bedrooms and three baths, near 55th and Hyde Park Boulevard, at $2,400 per month. The least expensive is a one-room studio at 55th and Everett, which leases for $525 per month.

These figures are not representative of what the tenants pay. Seven people in the first apartment often pay less than one occupying a studio. McGarry pointed out that larger places tend to be better deals, since the percentage of seven people looking to live together is relatively small, and thus demand is not as high.

Students who live off campus in four-bedroom apartments noted that they often divide rent as a function of bedroom size, so that the student living in the smallest bedroom pays the least. Going rates for a K&G four-bedroom apartment at 54th and Woodlawn is $1,550 per month, while K&G leases its slightly larger four-bedroom apartments on 55th and Hyde Park at $1,725 per month. Some of the nicest, most spacious apartments in Hyde Park are located at 57th and Blackstone, have four bedrooms and two baths, and lease for $1900 per month.

Students opting to stay in University housing over moving to apartments rarely save money. The minimum rate for housing for an academic year is $4,695, which is charged for doubles in virtually all of the dorms. Per month, the rate comes out to $521.

The most expensive dorm options include the Blackstone apartments, the Stony Island suites, and some doubles with kitchens in the Shoreland, which cost $6,258 for the academic year, or $695 per month. In contrast, the average monthly rent per person for the apartments on 57th and Blackstone comes out to $475. Also, dorm contracts require students to purchase a meal plan, at the least $1,893 dollars per year, or an additional $210 per month.

Still, there is more than economics involved in the decision to move from University housing to apartments. Second-year in the College Brittin Romero said the move off campus is a coming of age. "I feel like moving into an apartment somewhat marks the transition all college students go through, which involves the taking on of responsibility," she said.

Romero added that her decision was also influenced by her plans to study abroad during fall quarter. If she did not have an apartment, Romero would have been placed at random by the Office of University Housing.

Not all students feel that moving out of University housing is a necessary transition. Fourth-year in the College John Dresden has lived in Broadview since his first year. "Broadview has all the plusses of both a dorm and an apartment," said Dresden, noting the single rooms and private bathrooms, and the close-knit community of students.

While it is a dorm, Broadview's relatively far location from campus adds to its appeal, according to Dresden. "It's always a good feeling, especially on the weekends, to feel removed from the stresses of campus."

For first-years in the College, there is some good news. All freshman rooms are the same rateĀ—$5,157 per person for the academic year, with an additional $230 for orientation. Returning students can pay as little as $4,695 for the academic year, and have the option of switching to a less expensive meal plan. Students who switch from the freshman meal plan to the moderate one save $1,296 for the academic year, while those who switch to the minimal plan save $2,115.