JULIE PAIGE: Congratulations, and welcome to our Cornell community and our first Off-Campus Living Webinar that's held for graduate students to Cornell. We are live today on Friday, April 15th, 8:00 to 9:00 Am Eastern Daylight Time. At any time, feel free to submit questions that you may have. Please include your email address. We might not get to all the questions today, but our goal is for our office to be able to answer your questions in the coming days.
My name is Julie Paige, and I'm director of Off-Campus and Cooperative Living. I am joined today by graduate students representing different fields and living in different neighborhoods, popular neighborhoods, where graduate students reside. I'm also joined by my colleague, Denise Thompson, who's manager of Off-Campus Living. And you will hear from her regarding the services of our office later in this session.
The goal of this webinar is for you to hear directly from graduate students at Cornell and their experience in off-campus living. Through CornellCast, we also have for you video PowerPoint presentations to provide you with tools for a successful off-campus living experience and a successful search experience. My colleague, Denise Thompson, will share more about those presentations later in this session.
During the first 30 minutes of this webinar, each graduate student will have the opportunity to share with you their own experiences of how they found their apartment and their housing in Ithaca and talk a little bit about the neighborhood in which they live. You will then hear from Denise, who will again share with you the services of our office.
For the last 25 minutes, we will answer the questions that you submitted. As a reminder, please include your email address with your questions so we will be able to get back to you. If you've already submitted questions and you did not include our email address, you may re-send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and someone from our office will respond to you.
I'm now going to turn it over to our graduate students, who will tell you their name, where they're from, their field or their department, and how they found their current housing at Cornell, but more importantly, their first housing at Cornell. And then they'll talk a little bit about the neighborhood in which they live. We're going to start with Devesh. Devesh, could you tell us a little bit about those experiences that you've had?
DEVESH: Sure. Thanks, Julie. I come from India, and initially, I'd like to start with why I thought of off-campus versus on-campus. So the first thing normally that comes to mind when you think of off-campus is that it's a location farther off from the on-campus. It's going to be more travel. But the initial research that I did at Cornell-- and I'm part of the Johnson Business School at Cornell-- the initial research that I did made me realize that it's not so much the case. So off-campus locations normally are closer to the campus. And graduate housing on campus is in particular locations which are slightly further off, and you need to at least take a bus, or some other way to come to campus.
So that's one thing that you need to be clear of, that off-campus is not necessarily farther off. It's in this case, in Ithaca, nearer. And it's more the norm than the exception, at least in the business school that I saw. I am currently in East 8th Street, which is about a 10, 15 minute walk from the campus and about a 5-minute bus ride from the Johnson Business School and Central campus here in Ithaca.
My program starts in the summer, so I searched for my first apartment, which was on East Buffalo Street, slightly near to my current apartment, while I was back in India. So like some of you, I mean, based on the questions that were submitted, I saw there were some concerns. Yes, I was back in India when I searched for my apartment. I was not in Ithaca. I did not have an opportunity to visit the apartment before I took that.
The way I went about that was I looked at Craigslist. I looked at all the resources that the Johnson Business School had. And I was able to reach out to a few apartments that I was interested in. We shared some of the pictures of the apartments. And then we signed a simple agreement, and we went ahead.
So yes, there was a bit of trust element in there, where I had to go ahead and trust that the pictures would be similar to the apartment. And believe me, the apartment has turned out to be much better than the pictures, not the other way around. And it's kind of like when you're booking a hotel, when you look at the pictures. You look at some of the things that people have said, and go ahead and book it.
So I'm currently living in an apartment which is a 3-bedroom apartment that is in East 8th Street. My neighborhood is very near to Collegetown Terrace, which is around the popular service apartment area here. But I am in a house with an independent apartment. I have a huge lawn, so I'm pretty happy. Because my wife was here for one semester, and it's a quiet neighborhood, where all the different houses are located. And my landlord stays in the house just beside mine, so it's pretty convenient from that way.
And this year, we didn't have much of a winter. But even from winter maintenance problem, it is not. It's sometimes made out to be more difficult than it is. It isn't that case. It's not too bad. It's kind of fun, actually.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you, Devesh. Now I'm going to ask Jason to introduce himself, and again, his department, and where he's from, and how he found his first living experience at Cornell, and then also a little bit about the neighborhood or the area that he lives in.
JASON: Thank you, Julie. My name is Jason [INAUDIBLE]. I'm a graduate student in the electrical and computer engineering department. I'm originally from Rochester, New York, so just a little bit outside-- about a two-hour drive form Ithaca itself. When I was first searching for apartments, I checked out the apartments.com website, and actually had the opportunity to travel to Ithaca and look at a few before deciding.
I live a little bit what you'd call far from campus, although far in Ithaca is about a 10-minute drive. I'm in, technically, it's the town of Lansing, which is just north of Ithaca. And I live in a complex. What I really like about the complexes in this area and around is that they try to create a neighborhood feel. So it's almost like just outside of the complex is a suburban neighborhood. It's very quiet-- not that Ithaca ever gets that loud. It's also really nice if you like to go running out in the neighborhood with people.
In terms of getting to campus, I drive. However, there are plenty of bus stops that service many of these apartments around And I'm just a stone's throw away from the mall and the shopping areas, which has groceries, dining, a mall.
JULIE PAIGE: OK. Thank you, Jason. And we'll be back to you later with questions. Veronica is our third participant today. And she'll talk a little bit about her living experience. And she had a unique way that she found her first apartment that might be helpful to others.
VERONICA: Hi, everyone. So my name's Veronica Pillar. I'm a sixth year grad student in the physics department. And I'm originally from Washington DC, or the suburbs of it. So it's about a six-hour drive from Ithaca.
But when I was first looking for apartments here, I did not visit it beforehand. But our department administrator had emailed all the incoming PhD students a welcome letter. But we also had each other's emails and contact info.
So someone else contacted the rest of the incoming class, and I never met any of the other people in it. But saying, hey, does anyone want to look for apartments together? We can pool up and find housemates. And I was interested. A bunch of other people were. So I think there were eight of us who went into two groups of four. Because a four-person house is easier to come by than an eight-person.
And we were about to begin looking when actually a professor in our department emailed the department, saying, hey, I'm going on sabbatical for a year and would like to rent out my house while I'm gone. So I was lucky enough that one of the people-- who I still hadn't met but who I was going to live with-- lived fairly close, so I was able to drive up, meet that family, see the house. And they decided to rent it to us.
So the professor's house, while he and his family were gone, that's where I lived the first year. And that was great. And it was really helpful to have the contacts in my department, thanks to our administrators, to get in touch with other people in my same boat, looking for housing.
I've moved a couple times since then. I mean, the professor came back. So I was living in house. And I now live in a house in the North Campus area of Cornell. So the neighborhood, it's about a 10-minute walk from the physics buildings where I work. And maybe like 15, 20 to further parts of campus. There's also bus lines that run right through their 7 days a week. They go through campus, downtown, also up north to the mall. So that's pretty convenient.
It's a very residential area, so there's not really shopping or dining or any of that in the area. But like I said, the buses are convenient, and the commute into campus is very nice and short. I know a lot of people, actually, who live further away, and they'll drive in and park right on my street, and then walk into campus from there.
The house itself is a-- where I live now-- is a seven-person unit, and it's in a building owned by an independent landlord with our unit and one other. And I found that house from already knowing someone who lived in it. Because I'd already lived in Ithaca for a bit.
But a lot of my current housemates found our house through Craigslist, and either came and visited this house when they were in Ithaca, or we've had Skype meetings with future housemates who have been far away or abroad. And that's been really successful-- both me finding housing and for them finding us.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you, Veronica. We'll be back to you in a while. So I'm now going to introduce Dali. who will share a little bit about her living experience. And Dali, if I remember, you were an undergrad at Cornell, is that correct?
DALI: Yes, I was.
JULIE PAIGE: So she had a little bit of experience with Ithaca before she was a graduate student. But she can also talk about the different neighborhoods that she lived in, and how she found definitely a graduate area neighborhood as well. So thank you, Dali.
DALI: OK. Sure. So I'm Dalapa. Everyone calls me Dali. I'm in the human development department studying law in psychology concentration. So I'm a graduate student now, but I was indeed an undergraduate student. So I have quite a few years of experience living off-campus.
So my first year, the first housing situation that I found off-campus when I was an undergrad, I did have the opportunity, of course, to go visit the housing. And I thought that I had to really scrutinize the place, and everything like that. But after a few years of living off-campus, I found that the pictures tend to be really consistent. And what is written in the lease tends to be accurate. So it wasn't really necessary for me to see the housing in person. I didn't see this one in person. I found the listing on Craigslist.
So I live in the lower West Campus on University Avenue. So I'm about a 4-minute walk from the TCAT stop to go to campus and about an 8 to 10 minute walk downtown, across the street from the Commons, so where you would go to any of the malls, or anything like that. So you could also walk to campus, which is about like a 15-, 20-minute walk. So it's accessible via public transportation, or if you're walking.
So it's a very residential area here. But it's primarily graduate students who reside in this part of University Avenue. And it's generally quiet. I remember one year when I lived off-campus, I lived on a street across from a fraternity and the sorority houses, so my walls would shake. But I don't have anything like that. It's very quiet here most of the time.
And, yeah, I've never had a negative experience finding any housing here. And it's always been very easy for me.
JULIE PAIGE: Questions for you later. So welcome, Sonja. It's good to see you today. So Sonja is the final graduate student participating. Sonja, can you hear us?
SONJA: Yes, I can.
JULIE PAIGE: OK. So Sonja lives in Collegetown. And Sonja will talk a little bit about her experience finding her first off-campus living experience, and a little bit about the Collegetown area, which is close to campus, and how she found her living arrangement. So Sonja.
SONJA: Hi. I'm Sonja Siderov. I'm doing a master's in public administration. I'm from Pakistan, and I have lived in Ithaca for one and a half years. It is a two-year degree program. I'm graduating this year, but I lived one semester in DC on an externship program.
I found my first housing through a student group. The girls were from Pakistan, and we contacted together and tried to live together. But my first housing was off-campus, and it was on Slaterville Road. The buses were every one hour. And it was a huge house in the woods, and I wasn't comfortable there. I was a little scared at night when going there.
But afterwards, I was more aware with the situation and wanted to live very close to the campus, where I could easily walk. So I found on Craigslist another housing situation. It was rented by a garbage janitor. And I visited the place and talked with the landlady and found that place.
Afterwards I have lived in Collegetown apartments, which are rented by Ithaca Renting Company, and it has been very reliable. And I had found the apartment where I'm living now through a Cornell Facebook group for students. So it has been very positive for me, and I have had a good housing experience in Ithaca, except for the first one, which was very far. The house was nice, but it was not accessible.
But the Collegetown neighborhood area is very nice. There are many restaurants. It is a very lively place. I do not feel scared even at midnight when I come from the library. And it is a very good walk. I love to walk every day to my classes, which takes around 10 minutes. Because my human ecology department is in the middle of the University. So it is at least a 10- to 15-minute walk from my place. So it has been a very great experience.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you very much, Sonja. So you just got to hear from our five graduate students. And now I want to introduce my wonderful colleague, Denise Thompson, who's going to give you an overview of the service of our office.
She's also going to be able to talk to you a little bit about some PowerPoint presentations. The goal of the webinar today was for you to hear from the graduate students themselves about their life at Cornell and their living experience. But the PowerPoint presentation that she'll talk about will give you an idea of actually how to do the search process in the Ithaca area. So Denise, you're on.
DENISE THOMPSON: Thank you, Julie. So our office is the Off-Campus Living office. And within our office, we have nine peer advisors. They're undergraduate student staff that are also here to assist you in your housing search process.
On our website, which is offcampusliving.cornell.edu, we have various checklists and reference materials that you could also use. You will find on our website, after this afternoon, several PowerPoint presentations. We have one that's on tips, general things that I think are important for you to know when looking for housing. We also have presentations on budgeting, transportation. We go over the different neighborhoods in Ithaca. So those presentations were recorded, and you'll be able to see those this afternoon. Thank you.
JULIE PAIGE: And just a reminder, this webinar is also being recorded. So if you have missed some of it, or part of it, or you want to watch it over, you will have a chance to view this webinar any time at your convenience on CornellCast.
So again, if you have questions to submit, please still submit your questions, and we'll go to the question time now. And please include your email address, because we want to make sure to get back to you if we do not get to your questions today. We've gotten a lot of questions, and we really appreciate that very, very much.
So the first person to answer this question is going to be Denise, whom you just heard from. Is the grad student housing on campus any good? How much does it cost? And how many people typically share a room? Thank you. Denise.
DENISE THOMPSON: Thank you, Julie. So the on-campus housing is definitely adequate housing. It has a lot of different options to it. You have anywhere from a studio apartment to a three-bedroom, four-bedroom apartment. And they can range anywhere between $930 for a studio to a two-bedroom share, which is $815, or a one-bedroom, which could be $1,110. Currently, if you would like to apply to live on-campus, you may do so. They are actively working off of a wait list.
JULIE PAIGE: So that's a piece that's very important, that right now, they have several people on hold that they're waiting for people to sign contracts. And then we'll know more what places open up on-campus. So thank you.
So another question for Denise, what is the average monthly cost of living in Ithaca? And think about food and rent.
DENISE THOMPSON: So when you think about an apartment living in Ithaca, there's a wide variety of housing in Ithaca, whether it be an apartment complex, or a home that's been converted into different apartments, or just renting rooms. So really, the cost does vary based off of what are your needs and wants.
But if you are willing to live with someone, with roommates, you might be able to find an apartment at $700, $800 a month, including utilities. If you wanted to live on your own in a studio apartment, or a one-bedroom, it would probably be more along the lines of $1,100 to $1,200. But those costs, again, do vary greatly. So you're definitely going to really need to look at what your needs and wants are.
And I know for some of you, transportation is going to be a big factor in finding that apartment. As some of our participants said, we do have bus service in several of our neighborhoods. Depending upon what neighborhood you live in will be what time the bus service ends. And that's where I know some of the graduate students that I work with, they say, oh, the bus service ends at 10:30 at night. So that makes it a little bit harder to live farther out. So I think I need to find someplace in the Collegetown neighborhood, or someplace within walking distance to make it a little bit more easy for myself.
I am going to ask Jason and Veronica to answer the next question. And we'll start with Jason, because Veronica did address this a little bit. But where can I find potential roommates with similar lifestyles and interests?
So I've personally lived alone. However, a lot of co-workers that I have, especially international students tend to [INAUDIBLE] with international [INAUDIBLE]. However, there are other ones who just-- most who live like I am. You meet people in the lab and your departments that you can-- this is where I've seen a lot of them pairing up.
JULIE PAIGE: Veronica, do you want to add to that?
VERONICA: I couldn't hear really what Jason said, but--
JULIE PAIGE: It was hard for me too.
VERONICA: Yeah. Coming from not living on-campus yet, if you have anyone to contact from within your department, that could be really helpful. I know that my department was great about setting the first days up with each other. And they also assigned us to a peer PhD student mentor, so we could just have their contact info and ask them questions, like anything about housing. But if your department hasn't done that, contact the administrator and maybe they can put you in touch with people.
Otherwise, I know when I've been searching for housing and posting about housing on Craigslist, there's often-- if you're looking for housemates, people include fairly detailed descriptions of what they are like, what the culture of the house is like. So you get a lot of that information there, and obviously, in the description. But that's a starting basis from which you can then contact the person and talk to them. People looking for housemates are generally great to think of that.
JULIE PAIGE: All right, I want to reiterate what Veronica just said, to really look to your department, because someone else could be asking the same exact question to that department administrator as you just asked. So that is a really great resource for you.
The other resource for you is our Off-Campus Living website, offcampus.cornell.edu. We have a LISTSERV as part of that website. And Denise can talk a little bit about that LISTSERV and how that works.
DENISE THOMPSON: So the LISTSERV is there to help you find your roommates. If you go onto our Prepare site under Search, you'll be able to log in and request to be a member of the LISTSERV. You do need a Cornell.edu to be automatically enlisted. If you don't have a Cornell email address as of yet, what you could do is just submit the request and then provide us with backup documentation from your specific college or unit that you've been accepted, and we will add you. And then you'll be able to start corresponding with other students looking for roommates.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you, Denise. So we've spoken to this a little bit already. But I want to ask the question, in case any of the other grad students have anything to add to this. Because it is a question that we do get a lot in our office, and that is about finding housing if you won't be arriving in Ithaca until late July or early August. And isn't that a bit too late?
So if any of the grad students-- Devesh, if you want to talk about that a little more. I know you mentioned it in your approach. And then we can also talk about that. Or any of the other students, please feel free to join in after Devesh.
DEVESH: Sure. So when you're looking for the house, in a way, it doesn't matter when you're physically arriving here in Ithaca. What matters is when you start looking for that house. So even if you're arriving in late June or July, start looking for a house sometime in May. Because people's postings start coming in, and that gives you some time to look at what different options are there on Craigslist.
And like everyone mentioned, the department that you are enrolled in, that's a very good resource. Because each of the departments have their own Excel list, Facebook list, different places where they would have people from the same department who are moving out or graduating this year posting some of those house situations. So that then allows you to look at it and then start contacting people.
The next thing, once you shortlist some houses, would be then to look at-- ask them to share some pictures. Get into Skype calls with some of the prospective housemates. And then that gives you a way to zero in on what is something that you would like.
Thus, there are always your options once you decide the area and once you start deciding the actual place. You could then go to even Google Maps and try and look at that area. Now there are street views that are available. That's something that I did. The street at which I got my house, I was actually able to use Google Maps the Street View feature to see the house that I was actually renting without being here. So thanks to technology, that option is available now. And you could even be far, far away and look at how quiet the neighborhood is, what are the kind of people that live there.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. Any others that feel that they would like to answer that question? OK. One of the things that we, from our office, suggest if you have the opportunity. So one of the things that is helpful, if you can do your apartment search early, do it now. Do it in May. And find some properties that you're really interested in-- two or three that you really, really are interested in. And maybe you just are about to sign the lease, because you're interested in a certain property. If you could get in touch with your department ahead of time and ask if there is a mentor graduate student, a buddy, who can do that final look at that apartment.
So you've found this beautiful apartment. The pictures are great. You've talked to the landlord. The landlord wants you to sign the lease in two days. See if you can find somebody to do that final look and say, yes, it is the perfect apartment for you. Go ahead and sign the lease. That's another thing that we suggest.
The other thing, we are working with some graduate students from the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly. And what they would like to do is set up some buddy systems, not just within departments-- so if you have someone from your department to call-- but from some of our cultural organizations. So if you're a student from China, you might be hooked up with the Chinese Cultural Association. And there might be someone there who is willing to serve as a buddy to you and talk a little bit about the neighborhoods and that apartment and go look at it for you.
So that is something that we are in the process of working with these graduate students on. But we're hoping to have that in the very near future as something that could be really, really helpful. But we do suggest that you do not wait till July or August. So start looking now.
So Jason, could you answer this question? How common is it for first year graduate students to live with roommates? And are there Cornell facilitated groups to help me find a roommate?
JASON: My personal experience was to live alone. But though, I do know there were numbers of students who did meet up with roommates ahead of time. And one of the biggest things that I know is that they were mentoring with the cultural association, where international students of similar backgrounds were paired up.
JULIE PAIGE: So thank you, Jason. I know Jason was a little bit hard to hear. But he did mention that people do live with roommates. And I think he mentioned the cultural groups, to reach out to them as well. So thank you, Jason.
So Veronica, do you want to talk a little bit about the roommate thing again and how you found your roommates?
VERONICA: Sure. So I found my first roommates through, again, it was other [INAUDIBLE] the first year is my department. So our administrator had emailed all of us and provided us others' contact information. And then I guess-- and I'm sure not all the first year students are just coming in with roommates. But maybe most. There were a few groups of us that broke off and found housing together. And so it was just working with other people who were in the same boat.
I think somebody even set up a Facebook group for us. I don't remember. No one uses it anymore. It's six years on. So I guess, yes, it is common, and through my department is how I found my roommates, although there are other ways, as Jason said. I haven't used them.
JULIE PAIGE: And as we mentioned, you also can do it through our Off-Campus Living website and sign up for the LISTSERV to help you find roommates.
And also, don't feel like, oh, if I can't find roommates, it's not OK to live alone. It is OK. And what you might do as an incoming graduate student, you come, you find your first living arrangement. And then when you're here a year, and you have a chance to explore, you meet people, and then you might have some roommates your second year. So don't think when you come your first year, especially the PhD students, and are here for several years, that your living arrangement has to stay stagnant.
I know a lot of graduate students who find a place their first year. Oh, it isn't quite the neighborhood they want. But then they learn the following year the good places to live. So it is OK.
So Denise is going to answer the next question. And it's what questions should I ask when looking at apartments?
DENISE THOMPSON: Well, you would want to ask whether the utilities are included, what utilities are included. You would want to ask exactly where the bus stop is. What bus route number is also there. Anyone who's renting an apartment to you should know their property and be able to help you be able to figure out your transportation needs, getting to and from campus.
You're going to want to find out where's the shopping, so where are the supermarkets. If you want to go downtown or to the mall, find out those locations. You're going to want to ask your landlord some reference questions about them. You're going to want to get to know your landlord and see if this is someone that you want to work with. So you're going to want to ask them how long have they been a landlord, how many properties do they own.
You're going to want to ask for references. So you're going to ask the landlord, but realize that they may not be 100% prepared for this right now. But just tell them that within the next 24 hours, you'd really like to be able to speak to someone who is a current tenant and someone who was a previous tenant. And then you're going to ask those references questions about the landlord. So you're going to really be able to get to understand who the landlord is and what the property looks like and feels like.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you so much.
DENISE THOMPSON: Julie, I'm sorry, but we also have on our website the Apartment Selection Checklist under Prepare. And that's a pretty comprehensive list that when you go in, you can look at like, does it have a fireplace? What's the water pressure look like? What's the cooking-- like the stove, whether or not that's electric or gas. It really prompts you to ask questions so that you can understand the whole apartment as well. So that's a great resource for you to weigh your pros and cons as well. Thank you.
JULIE PAIGE: There are a lot of resources on our website. Denise has referred to a couple already. So it's really important-- our website is an educational website. When you go on, yes, you can search for an apartment, which is really important. But there are a lot of tools you should read too.
What we have that I feel is very important is a Security Checklist. And again, if you have a chance to look at the apartment, when you look, you go around and you check the locks. You check the doors. What kind of locks are on the doors?
But if you aren't in Ithaca, those are good resources for a buddy or a mentor to also have. So there's all these kinds of checklists. There's a Lease-Signing Checklist. So what does the lease say? So when you go onto our site, the first thing to do, don't go look for the apartment, but look for the tools to help you have that successful experience. So when you do sign that lease, you do have that successful experience for a year period of time before you either re-sign or look for a new living arrangement.
So is it possible to ride a bike during the winter to class or anywhere around Ithaca? So if anyone has a bike, can you talk about that experience?
VERONICA: I have a bike, and I personally don't ride it during the winter. So I see a few, usually, people doing that, but not very many. Depending on how the winter is, often the roads are just too snowy for it to be reasonable, I think. Although, I know one professor who bikes to campus year-round. It's the professor whose house I lived in once, so I know his commute. And it's along a road that gets cleared quite reliably. So possible, but not popular.
JULIE PAIGE: Anybody else on bike?
DENISE THOMPSON: I have actually seen several students bike to campus during the winter, even in our bad weathers that we've had. A lot of the buses will have a thing in the front where you can actually-- a bike rack, where you can put your bike on as you come up a hill or across campus. But I do see a lot of students bike during the winter months on-campus, specifically.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. Thank you so very much. So are there areas to avoid while considering off-campus accommodations? And I think this is more of a personal question, so I don't know if any of our graduate students would be willing to answer that question. Because it is going to be depending upon the resources you have, like a car and transportation. So if anyone would like to address that.
I'll talk a little bit about it-- a little bit. So I do find there are areas that not a lot of graduate students live in. But I would say, Ithaca is a fairly friendly community. And you can certainly go on and look at any kind of-- if you're looking about safe neighborhoods, there are criminal records and police records that you can obtain. But I would say a lot of our graduate students definitely-- clusters of graduate students pick certain areas of Ithaca.
There's an area called Fall Creek, which is downtown Ithaca. We don't have any representatives in Fall Creek, but it's an area that has fairly good bus service to campus. Some people walk from the Fall Creek neighborhood up the hill. And the other reasons people like Fall Creek is if you have a family, they do have an elementary school that is right in the Fall Creek neighborhood that is in walking distance. And it's also in walking distance to downtown, the Commons.
The Commons is what we call downtown Ithaca. There's lots of boutique shopping downtown. But my favorite part of downtown is all the restaurants. We have a street called Aurora Street which is nicknamed "Restaurant Row." And so that's a very common area where graduate students live. There's also apartments on the Commons, above the stores.
So graduate students, if you could talk a little bit about maybe what the Commons is for you, if your living areas are close to the Commons, and things that you might like to do that involve maybe downtown Ithaca.
VERONICA: So I actually lived downtown and in Fall Creek for a year a few years ago, and it was really lovely, as Julie said. I'm actually moving back to Fall Creek in a year.
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JULIE PAIGE: OK, Veronica, you're all set now.
VERONICA: OK. Yeah, so I was saying, I lived downtown and in Fall Creek for about a year four years ago. And I'm going to move back to Fall Creek next year. Because the Commons and downtown area is where, if you're going out to eat with friends, it' will usually be there. Going out to bars at night, it could be there. It's a lovely place. You can just walk around.
And yeah, so Fall Creek, I know a lot of people who live down there. Fall Creek and downtown are popular for grad students. Compared to where I live now on North Campus, it's a bit of a further commute up to campus. But there is a very convenient bus route that runs like every 10 minutes during the day. It goes up the hill. Or you can walk. I could take like 25, 30 minutes with a nice walk. I've also biked up the hill, which is a bit difficult, but fine as well.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. Another area of campus where we don't have a representative is the East Hill area. And if we have any vet students watching today, East Hill also has a shopping area. A lot of people who live in East Hill do walk to campus, but there's really good bus service from East Hill as well. In fact, East Hill is a neighborhood that has very late nights, well, late night for me. It goes till after midnight, probably till 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning.
So East Hill is also a great area to live. There's a shopping center with a supermarket. There's a couple of restaurants in the East Hill Plaza shopping area. And the other piece about the East Hill, because a lot of vet students live in East Hill, it is an area that if you want to have a pet, there are some apartments in East Hill that do accept pets. because a lot of our vet students who live do like to have pets. But I've mentioned it for vet students, but it's a very common area for a lot of students to live in East Hill.
The other area where we don't have a representative is the area called Belle Sherman. And Belle Sherman is right adjacent to Collegetown. And it's also within walking distance to campus. So have any of you ever lived in Belle Sherman.
DALI: Yes, I've lived in Belle Sherman.
JULIE PAIGE: OK. Why don't you talk about Belle Sherman?
DALI: When I was an undergraduate, I lived in Belle Sherman. It's not really-- I didn't see too much difference between that area and Collegetown. I had lived in Collegetown literally the semester before. And so I basically just moved a little bit further. So I thought that it was just what I was mentioning before, that I was having my walls shake. That was because of the proximity to a fraternity house. So when I moved to Belle Sherman, it was just a little quieter.
So before, there was the question about which areas to avoid. You have to ask what it is that you're trying to avoid, or what it is that you're trying to find. If you want something that has more of a night life, or you want to make sure that you have more restaurants around you. Or you're more concerned about quiet, or you're overly concerned that there's going to be too much quiet, and it's going to be disturbing for you or frightening if you're there late at night. So it's what you're trying to avoid. I was basically trying to find the quietest area possible, so I really liked Belle Sherman.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. Another area that some of our grad students live in but not a lot is the South Hill area. So you might see a lot of listings for South Hill, especially on Craigslist, because that is the area where a lot of Ithaca College students live. So you'll certainly find other Cornell students in the South Hill area, but not many.
So if you do see South Hill and a lot of openings, that is close to downtown. It is walking distance to downtown, a lot of areas. But it is highly Ithaca College, so just to give you that information.
So this is a little bit about winter. We actually had a fairly mild winter in Ithaca. But I know some of our grad students were here last winter and two years ago-- were somewhat difficult winters.
So how about Sonja? Do you want to speak to, is living off-campus troublesome in the winter?
SONJA: Yes. Fortunately, I didn't spend a whole semester at the first place I was mentioning, which was very far, and it was one hour bus road, and it was not convenient. And I was here for the first time, and I didn't like living in the woods. And I was feeling unsafe, although I know that Ithaca is pretty much safe.
So I was fortunate that I hadn't signed a lease. And my other housemates, they gave me an opportunity to look at another place and shift. So I stayed at that place for one month and shifted before the winter really started. So I shifted to Collegetown. It was two streets away from the main College Avenue. And it was a little further from College Avenue, like 5 minutes more work. And it was very doable, and I had a good semester during winter as well.
JULIE PAIGE: OK. Thank you. Would anyone else like to talk about winter for that? So I've lived in Ithaca for a number of years. And just good information, Cornell hardly ever closes. So no matter how hard the day might be, and you can look outside and see a foot of snow, Cornell itself won't close. But pay attention, because your professor might cancel class.
But Cornell, we might have a delayed opening. I've been here for like 28 years. And the last time, I think, Cornell closed for a whole day was in 1993. So just to give you a taste.
They do to keep the roads. I feel like the roads get cleared in Ithaca proper. And I live out in the village of Lansing, which is about the 10-minute ride that Jason has into campus. And the roads do get clear, and the buses do run. It's actually when the buses don't run and they close the streets that Cornell will close. So as long as the buses are running, but they will be delayed in the winter.
And there are a lot of rules around winter. So for instance, If you live in a house, especially-- I live in a complex, everything gets cleaned-- but if you live in a house, the lease might say that it's up to the tenant to clean the front steps of the house and the walk going to the house. And the landlord might be responsible for cleaning the sidewalks of the house. So it's not just getting around in the winter. It's also your responsibility in keeping clear pathways to the front door of your living arrangement.
So that's another thing to consider when you're signing a lease. Do I want to be responsible for cleaning the sidewalks in the winter? Or do I want my landlord or property managers to be responsible for cleaning the sidewalks in the winter? So those are things to look for. I'm from the Northeast, so the winter, for the most part, doesn't bother me. But definitely think about where you want to live and what you want your responsibilities to be. And I don't know if Denise-- do you have anything to add about that?
DENISE THOMPSON: One thing that I personally would add is that, like Devesh said, using Google Maps and the Street View, I think it's important that-- so personally, I wouldn't want to walk on a street that doesn't have a sidewalk. I know others feel that it's perfectly acceptable, and that is. I mean, it's not against the law to do that. But when it's snow and ice, I would prefer to be walking on a sidewalk so that I know that I'm not walking in any way of a car or a bus. So it's definitely being really cautious about your own personal safety.
JULIE PAIGE: So Dali, you've been here for a really long time. Do you have anything to say about winter?
DALI: Yes. Being Nigerian, winter in Ithaca was not my favorite when I first arrived here, but you definitely can adjust. One thing you should probably note is never put away your winter coat too early. My sophomore year, I was taking, I think, my [INAUDIBLE] final. It was May 9th, and I went outside, and I looked up and it was snowing. So I had to run back inside into my apartment building and go grab my winter coat.
So sometimes the winter can be a little extended. It can be a little unpredictable. But we also have a really gorgeous spring and summer. When it really wants here, it's really scenic. It's a real privilege to be here. Even in the winter, it is as well. But the cold is definitely something to be mindful of, so you should make sure you have a lot of warm clothing packed for that, to be prepared.
JULIE PAIGE: So I now, as grad students, many of you will be here 12 months of the year. And Ithaca has the best late spring, summers, and early falls that you could ever imagine. So I know we've talked about the winter, and we've talked about some of the challenges. But it is worth being here because of the other three seasons of the year. So if you can have patience with winter, you will make it. Because the summers all make up for it. We're surrounded by state parks and lots of places to walk, even campus itself. We have beautiful paths on-campus, so you don't even have to get to the state park to take those really nice walks.
This is definitely a question that's an opinion. And I know we have real variety. Jason lives in a complex, and Veronica loves living in houses. And Sonja, I'm not sure exactly your living situation. But generally, is it better to rent from a company or an individual landlord? And so I will let-- Sonja, why don't you start?
SONJA: So it depends, because the first apartment where I moved in Collegetown, two streets away from College Avenue, I rented it from a private lady landlord. And she was really, really nice. She had a proper security check to give the apartment to me. And she was very considerate, and she had the fully furnished apartment, and she cared a lot for me. And I had a very good time with her, and I still have a very good relationship with her.
The next time, where I shifted, where I got a sublet, it is through a renting company. And the renting company manages everything. I don't need to worry about disposing of the trash, nothing, so just an electricity bill. So it is less of a responsibility when you live in a complex apartment setting where it is managed by a renting company. But when I was living in the private building, I had to think about all the utilities, and cleaning, and trash disposal, and everything. So it defers the level of responsibility.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you, Sonja. So Veronica, would you like to speak to that also?
VERONICA: Sure. So I have never lived in a place that's run by a bigger company, so I can only speak for the individual landlords. But I've had great experiences with them, so far. Twice, the places I've lived in were someone's personal house, that they were either renting out rooms or the whole house I guess that was nice in both places. Both the families were great and cared about the house, because they either lived in it or were going to live in it again. So they were personally invested in the upkeep.
And other places, including my current place, are managed by an individual landlord who manages multiple properties. They tend to be like a house with only two to four units, as opposed to a big complex. And both of them have been great as well. I know them personally, like very easy to work with, willing to fix whatever needs to be fixed. So I've had great experiences there.
Where I'm about to move is someone's house that it's the only place that the landlord manages. It's just her family's home, and she lives abroad. And my friends who live there now say that that's a really good experience.
But I've had other friends who lived in a place, in a similar situation. It was just one person managing one property who was not good at it at all and didn't really know what she was doing. So I guess if you're working with someone who only manages the one property and is not a professional landlord, maybe then really talk to someone who's worked with them before or lived in their house before so that you know what it's like. So I can't say that the individual landlords are better than the companies. It's just that I've had good experiences with all the ones that I've lived with, so far.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. So Jason, I know you live in a complex. And Jason, I just want to start by saying it is difficult. There's something going on with the sound. But if you could try to talk a little bit about the complex experience.
JASON: OK. Yeah I really enjoy the complex experience. I've had a great relationship with the-- I don't want to say landlord-- but the leasing office agent, if you will. And yeah, I mean, it's nice, because the-- I remember early on, the key didn't quite fit the lock, and I was just too timid to ask somebody to fix it. But when I finally did, it was just painless. They take care of the management. They take care of so many things. They're very friendly.
I do have one friend-- and I mean, it's the roll of the die, right?-- where he had an individual house that he was living in. And the woman who owned it didn't-- her son just didn't like him. And he was asked to move out. So, I mean-- but that's one poor experience.
JULIE PAIGE: So we have about five more minutes. So I'm going to ask just one more question. The one thing I want to add to that-- get to know your property managers or landlords. Because the relationship you build will really help when you need to have something fixed. Because you become more than, oh, there's a person who wants something fixed. So build that relationship, but I think I've heard that through the different people that have answered the question.
So let's see, I want a short question. Let's see. OK, I think Jason has the answer to this. What are the best neighborhoods for an older grad student with a partner and a dog? And this is going to be the last question, and then we're going to just close out of this session.
JASON: OK, I would actually say that the Lansing area is good for that kind of thing. I've noticed some of the complexes in this area, they were almost exclusively for kind of the older with partners, with children. I've seen lots of children in my complex. I know my particular one doesn't allow dogs, but other ones do. So I would say, even for more of the neighborhood-like areas like Lansing are.
JULIE PAIGE: And one of the other things to ask about animals is to ask-- one, most apartments will require a pet deposit, so to ask about that. And then there are some properties that not only require a pet deposit, but they might add something to your rent each month. So that is also something to ask if you want to bring an animal. As I mentioned earlier, not all vet students, but a lot a vet students will live out in East Hill, and they particularly do look for living arrangements where they can bring animals.
So I just want to thank everybody for being with us today. Just a reminder, this will be posted on CornellCast. So if you miss any part of it, or you want to go back to it for any reason, please look for it on CornellCast. And I really want you to remember to use our site, offcampusliving.cornell.edu. It does have a search feature, which is really important. It provides a lot of educational materials. And the PowerPoints that Denise has created for you will really provide you with tools to guide you to that successful off-campus living experience.
I want to, again, congratulate you, welcome you to the Cornell community, and we really look forward to meeting you upon your arrival to Ithaca. Thank you very much for joining us today. And I want to thank our five graduate students and Denise. And a special thank you to Diane Kubarek, our director of marketing [INAUDIBLE], who has really supported us in this endeavor. Thank you, everybody.
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If you are coming to Cornell to pursue your graduate studies, you may now be thinking the next big question – where do I live and what is Ithaca like? Arriving in a new and unfamiliar place can be stressful, and may bring up many questions and concerns. Our goal is to provide you information about life in Ithaca, centered around housing options, through the experiences of current graduate students.
In this webinar recorded April 15, 2016, a panel of students (including internationals) with many different living arrangements share their experiences and offer guidance on factors to consider when evaluating housing options. You will also receive an introduction to
resources and assistance available through the Office for Off-Campus Living.
This program is sponsored by the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly Diversity and International Committee, Graduate School, International Students and Scholars Office, and Off-Campus Living.