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Housing options to live alone in grad school

  1. Dec 27, 2015 #1
    I know that this post is going to get me labelled as a whiny baby, and I've embraced this. Throughout my ~4 years of undergrad, I've had a solid stream of roommates; I've lived in houses, dorms, apartments, with anywhere between 1 and 5 roommates. Most of them were fine: clean, nice, respectful, quiet. But I simply can't take it, and the best day of my life thus far was when I moved into my own itty-bitty studio apartment by myself. Even when I lived with my girlfriend (after being together for 6 years), I couldn't stand it. I've come to the conclusion that it isn't the roommate or living situation, it's just that I cannot live with other people.

    When looking into grad school housing options, this is non-negotiable. Those of you who will tell me to get a roommate might as well click the big "X" on the upper right, because this isn't the thread for you.

    I'm hoping that all is not lost when it comes to graduate school housing options. Certainly I've applied to many schools in the Midwest so that I can afford to live alone. And I know that living somewhere like Rochester, NY or College Park, MD would cause my budget to be stretched thin, but it's still possible. Seriously, some of the ~$800 places are complete trash heaps... but they'd be my trash heaps! But other places I've looked at (Boulder, Berkeley), living alone under $1000 is just impossible.

    I've applied to external fellowships but I will probably need to accept an offer and start looking for housing before I hear back (mid-April) so that I can actually, you know, find a place, so I won't have that nice comfy financial cushion of knowing that I have a fellowship.

    Seriously, how do people live alone in grad school? I know commuting is an option, but at places with such horrid winters (I'm looking at you, Rochester...), I don't know how valid this option really is. Plus, with the amount of time I'll be spending at whatever university, having to travel 1+ hours each way will be hugely taxing. Still, if I can live by myself, it's worth it.

    I ask you people because surely there is someone out there that has gone through graduate school with social anxiety like I have (though not so much social anxiety as me just being a wuss that can't live with others). Advice?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 27, 2015 #2
    I am also looking forward to hearing others' opinions because, like you, I would rather live in a cardboard box in the middle of the city than live in a nice apartment that I share with someone else.

    But seriously, when you get accepted somewhere and visit, ask the grad students there! I was an REU student somewhere you mentioned, and I also was afraid to apply there because I didn't know if I could afford to live alone. But after doing some searching and asking grad students when I was there, there are some sites that aren't really all that well advertised for housing searches (I PM'd you details, keeping the uni name out for privacy) - I assume other universities have the same thing. Also, look for informal Facebook pages comprised of students at those universities - try searching "*University Name* Class of 2018" or something, and you'll get a group of students. Just post in there asking where you might find housing, and someone will point you in the right direction.

    I don't know how you've been searching, but I've found that sites like Apartments.com, Apartmentlist.com, etc. are not really all that updated and leave out a lot of options. You're better off searching through individual property management companies.
  4. Dec 28, 2015 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    It's not like such housing doesn't exist. The problem is that it (like many things) is more expensive than you would like. This is only a financial problem. Treating this as such, you have a number of options. Restrict your school choices to places where the stipend is large compared to the cost of housing (e.g. Cornell, Duke) Commute. Take out loans. Adjust your budget - cut back on entertainment and other expenses. Work part time. Some mix.

    These all have downsides - a part time job will likely extend your time in school. Student loans need to be paid back. The school with the best deal may not be your firts choice. You're an adult - you need to navigate these choices on your own.

    One thing to keep in mind is that cheap housing is often cheap for a reason. Apartments just west of the University of Chicago rent for 1/2 to 2/3 what they do just north of the University. That neighborhood also have twice the violent crime rate.
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