JULIE PAIGE: Congratulations and welcome to our Cornell community and our second annual off-campus living webinar for incoming graduate students to Cornell University. We are live here today, Friday, April 28, 8:00 AM, Eastern Daylight Time. At any time during the session you may submit questions. Please include your email address, so if we don't get to your questions today, someone from our staff will respond to you at a later time.
My name is Julie Paige. And I'm director of off-campus and cooperative living. I am joined today by six graduate students representing different fields and living in different parts of Ithaca and from different parts of the world. I'm also joined today by my colleague, Denise Thompson, manager of off-campus living.
The goal of the webinar today is to hear directly from the graduate students about their experience with an off-campus living search, but also about their experience with living off-campus. If you go to our website, OffCampusLiving.Cornell.edu, you will see a variety of PowerPoints regarding the off-campus living search. And that will help you with your successful search of off-campus living at Cornell.
During the first 30 minutes of the webinar, each participant will have the opportunity to share with you about their own experiences of how they found their apartment in Ithaca, and a little bit about the neighborhood and where they live. You will then hear from Denise Thompson, who will provide you information about the services of our off-campus living office.
For the last 25 minutes of the webinar, will be taking your questions. Some of you submitted questions online ahead of time. And we have those. And then at any time during the webinar, just remember to submit your questions and include your email address.
I'm now going to turn it over to our six graduate participants who will tell you their name, where they are from, their department, how they found their first apartment off-campus, and a little bit about the neighborhood where they live. And I'm gonna start with Nathaniel.
NATHANIEL STETSON: Everybody. My name is Nathaniel Stetson. I'm actually not a graduate student, but a professional student. I'm a second year law student.
And my apartment search in Ithaca was probably not that representative. I had a friend who was already living here. And I was looking for roommates.
And so I just moved in with them. So I would say that's maybe not an experience that you'll be able to recreate. But if you can, it's very helpful to have somebody on the ground who can look at apartments ahead of time.
JULIE PAIGE: So you want to talk a little bit about where you live? The neighborhood?
NATHANIEL STETSON: So I live in Fall Creek, which is on the Northwest side of Ithaca. It's off the hill, which has advantages and disadvantages. And it's very near one of the Gimme! Coffees, which is definitely an advantage.
Again, it's near the high school. It's a pretty quiet residential area. A lot of graduate students, not many undergrads. And a lot of families.
So large numbers of dogs, which is also I would say an advantage. There's usually somebody walking a dog up and down the street.
JULIE PAIGE: So just to let everyone know a little bit about the Fall Creek neighborhood, it is walking distance to downtown Ithaca. So there's a lot of shopping and restaurants within walking distance. How do you get to campus when--
NATHANIEL STETSON: So I do walk sometimes. It's a little bit of a steep walk with a bus pass, which is free your first year, and pretty affordable after that. It is super easy. It's about a 10-minute walk to the bus station that I use, which actually goes right past the coffee shop, which is pretty ideal. And then it's maybe 15 minutes on the bus to get up to campus. So definitely under a half hour to get to campus.
There are closer bus stops. So when the weather is bad, there's actually a bus stop right on my corner, which takes longer to get to campus, but still is very convenient.
Then a lot of the time I actually bike over to the bus station. And you can put your bike on the bus. They actually have racks that fold down. And so you can take your bike up to campus with you, which is probably less useful now that the bikeshare has launched, which I hope people are aware of for transit purposes.
But it's been very convenient for me.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. And also for families with children, there is a Fall Creek Elementary School that is part of the Fall Creek neighborhood. So thank you, Nathaniel.
Now I'd like to hear from Elena.
ELENA: Hi, everyone. My name is Elena. I'm currently a second year graduate student in the plant biology department. And so I currently live in the commons or the downtown. And there's a lot of businesses that have apartments above them. But I live in the only "official" apartment complex in the Commons at Town Center Ithaca.
And it's above the center Ithaca, like the food court and shop area. And it's great, because I'm right next to the Green Street and the Seneca Street bus stations, which are basically just on either side of the Commons.
And so that's very convenient. So like Nate said, I also have a [INAUDIBLE] bus pass. And I have one right now, which is the main way I get to campus. So I do walk home, because it's a lot easier walking down the hill than up the hill.
And the way I found where I live is I asked a older student in my department when I knew I was admitted to go on some apartment tours for me. And she just took a bunch of pictures. And I recommended the place I live right now.
JULIE PAIGE: And how do you get to Cornell each day?
ELENA: I take the bus usually.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. Thank you.
So next we're going to hear from Julian.
JULIAN: Hi, everyone. My name's Julian Flynn. And I'm actually from Canada. I'm an international student.
And I'm in genetics, genomics and development-- the PhD program. The way I found my current apartment was I was looking to find a roommate, because I wanted a more affordable option. When you get a two-bedroom or three-bedroom, generally the prices are a little bit lower per bedroom. So I was looking for that.
So I actually joined the LISTSERV that's available. You can find it on the off-campus living website under searching for housing. I joined the LISTERV. And I found another first year graduate student who was also looking for a roommate to share a house with.
And then I was in Canada, but I was in Montreal. So it a was a very driveable distance. So one weekend in May, I drove down to Ithaca from Montreal. And I toured a whole bunch of apartments.
And I chose the one that I found suited me the best. And I live in East Hill, or specifically Eastern Heights, which is unlike the other people we talked to, it's on the other side of Cornell. It's up another hill.
And it's more of a rural type area, more quiet. Not probably any undergraduate students, mainly graduate students, professional, or young professionals, and families. And very quiet neighborhood.
I really like it up there. But yet, it's still about 2 and 1/2 miles from campus, which is great. And I normally get to campus by biking, actually. It's a 12-minute bike ride down to campus, 20 minutes home, because it's uphill. But not bad.
And when the weather gets bad sometimes in the winter, there's also a bus that comes right by my apartment. So I take the bus sometimes in the winter.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you so very much.
So next we're going to hear from Elizabeth, who lives in the West Hill area. And she can tell us a little bit about that.
ELIZABETH: Sure. Hey, everyone. I'm Elizabeth. I am a second year graduate student in mechanical engineering.
I've lived in two neighborhoods. So I lived in Fall Creek my first year. And now I live up on West Hill , which is the hill opposite Cornell across Cayuga Lake.
It's like a suburban area. It's really nice. I have a huge backyard that I'm growing a garden in right now. And there's like a forest around the corner from my house that I can go take walks in in the morning.
I, like a couple of other people, was lucky enough to know someone in town when I was first looking for housing. I was actually on a cross-country bicycle trip. So I would send him Craigslist ads that I found online. And he would go look at those apartments and take some pictures.
And and eventually we found one. I was looking to live alone my first year. We found one that was suitable and really affordable.
It was less than $800 a month to live on my own. So I signed the lease in a coffee shop and faxed it over. And it worked out pretty well.
JULIE PAIGE: Thanks, Elizabeth. And what department are you from?
ELIZABETH: Mechanical engineering.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. So now we're gonna hear from [INAUDIBLE]. And he will tell you a little bit about his experience finding his dwelling in Ithaca.
SPEAKER 6: Hi, everyone. My name's [INAUDIBLE]. I'm a fourth year graduate student in biological and environmental engineer. I'm currently working at the veterinary school on tuberculosis.
And I'm from China. So when I first searched my first apartment, I was physically in China. So I go online. I found my first apartment through Craigslist.
And the most important thing is that I asked a friend that helped me take a look at the apartment back then, which is in Commerce. And the place I live now-- in the first year, yes. Of course, we got this bus pass for free.
And then I moved to another place where I live now, which is now in the Varna community, which is east side of the campus, about a 30-minute walk to the veterinary school, and ten more minutes to the campus.
And the community is-- it's a nice, quiet community. It was adjacent to a woods. And sometimes you can see deer walking in your back yard. And the bus frequency is about 30 minutes to an hour, depends on the time.
And the best part I think most of the house in that community has a washer and a dryer in the house. And I found this second place. I found this second place through a friend introducing me to one of these dwellings.
And when I was first year living in the Commons, I took the bus, which usually takes me 15 minutes to get to campus. And right now I stay at the place in Varna. And I usually drive to school, which is about five minutes driving. And sometimes when the weather was good, I would walk to enjoy the good weather.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. Thank you very much. And now we're going to hear from Menesha.
MENESHA: Hi. So my name is Menesha [INAUDIBLE]. And I'm a second year graduate student in computational biology. My first year in Ithaca I actually lived up near the airport near Northwood apartments. And I found that apartment complex by just googling apartment complexes in Ithaca, and just reading through a lot of the reviews for these sites. And Northwood was really well-recommended. And I actually could say I really, really liked it.
It was kind of a quieter place. It was a little farther away from town. And there was like a mix of graduate students, post-docs, and just residential people in Ithaca, which was great. However, it is a little farther away from campus and from downtown.
And I decided my second year that I kind of wanted to move closer. So now I live with a roommate in an apartment complex right off of the Commons. And it's closer to downtown, which is exactly what I wanted.
So a little bit louder. There's a lot more going on. So kind of later at night you'll hear people milling about. But other than that, it's been really nice.
I mostly take the bus up to campus. At both places I took the bus. And now that I live down in the Commons, I pretty much almost always walk back down the hill after to get in my exercise.
JULIE PAIGE: So thank you very much, Menesha. Now I'm going to turn it over to Denise Thompson from our Off-campus Living office. And she can tell you about the services of our office and more what you can find on our website.
Again, remember, when you submit questions, please include your email address, because if we don't answer your questions during this webinar, someone from our staff or another graduate student will get back to you.
So Denise, you're on.
DENISE THOMPSON: Thank you, Julie. Our off-campus living office is here to help you. We have a peer advising staff and myself that can assist you with your housing search process. On our website, we have a number of checklist and reference materials that I'll talk about in a few minutes.
Our website is offcampusliving.cornell.edu where you will also find a few PowerPoint presentations that Julie had already mentioned. These presentations have helpful tips for your housing search process. But when in doubt, please ask us.
You can reach our office at email firstname.lastname@example.org. There's a few things I think that are important when you are preparing to move to Cornell, and when you finally do get here. Remember, preparing is an important part of your housing search process. A little preparation can make what feels like a daunting task much easier.
Using the resource area on our preparer site to answer your questions-- questions such as, where do I want to live; what's important to me; what are my needs; what's my rental budget; how do I determine affordability; which neighborhood do I like. All of those are under our prepare area.
We also have an area where we have a search site. So when you start your search, it's important to remember to take your time. Explore all your options.
You want to look at everything that's important to you. So you're going to look at everything you've done to pre-prepare. You can use our resources on a search site as well.
Lease signing is another important thing to know. Remember, it's a legally binding contract between you and the landlord. It's important that you know your rights.
On our website we have the New York State attorney general's tenants' rights guide. This will be able to help you understand what you are responsible for and what your landlord is responsible for when you have a lease here in Ithaca.
The other thing that's vitally important in my opinion is documenting the condition of your facility when you move in and when you move out. On our website, you will find our move in/move out checklist. There you will also take pictures and send those pictures with the document to your landlord just documenting the condition when you move in. And then when you move out, you're gonna do the same thing.
After you clean the apartment, pack all your stuff and move it, you're going to go through again and document all the conditions inside the refrigerator, the microwave, underneath the sink, windows, anything that's been damaged, so that your landlord knows what the property looked like when you left.
Thank you, Julie.
JULIE PAIGE: So before we turn it over to the graduate students, I want to talk about a neighborhood that a lot of students live in that is not represented today. And that is the Collegetown Belle Sherman neighborhood. Just so everyone knows, Collegetown is highly inhabited by undergraduate students. But upper parts of Collegetown and lower parts of Collegetown are areas where graduate students live.
And most parts of Collegetown are within walking distance of the university. And the bus service does go a little bit later than other areas. So it is an area if you want to live with undergraduates, you know, the heart of Collegetown is a lot of undergraduate housing.
There's a lot of businesses in Collegetown and a lot of restaurants. It's a very social area. And then upper Collegetown, which is also called Bell Sherman, is again, a neighborhood with a mixture of families, professional and graduate students, and some undergraduate students will live in upper Collegetown as well.
In lower Collegetown, which is also in walking distance from the Commons, it's also a mixed neighborhood of graduate students, undergraduate students, and families. So it is one neighborhood that's not represented here today.
The other thing that a couple of the students mentioned that I want to remind people, for those of you who are far away and can't make it to Ithaca, one of the best ways for you to ask for advice about housing or have someone look at an apartment for you is to connect with your graduate school department. And there might be a student within your department that would be willing, once you have found the apartment, to go take a look at it and make sure it's exactly what the landlord or property manager is telling you about that apartment. So we encourage you to do that before you sign a lease, if that is possible, and if someone from you department can do that.
So I'm now going to begin the question part. And I want to remind everybody to please continue to submit your questions. They will be handed to me. And include your email address, so if we don't get to your questions today, someone will respond to you.
At the end of the webinar, you will have one more chance to hear individually from some of our graduate students about a tip that they would like to give you before you start your apartment search.
So I'm going to go to the section of securing housing, because that's going to be on everyone's mind right now. So I know at least one of the graduate students mentioned Craigslist. And so I'm going to ask again about strategies about on-campus housing.
So I heard that Craigslist is not reliable for finding housing. Is there anywhere else I will be able to find reliable housing listings? And what is the best strategy to use to find good housing options for the fall semester?
So why don't we hear from Elena. Why don't you answer this question?
ELENA: Hi. Yeah, so I did not use Craigslist when I was looking for apartments. I used Zillow or Zillow. I don't know how you pronounce that. But it's Z-I-L-L-O-W.
And I like that website because you can look at a map of where you're interested in living, and it will show you different availabilities. And from there I would just contact the person who had the rental place up and call them from there to see like what-- just get a sense of what kind of landlord it was, and if I was [INAUDIBLE] or not.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. Are there other panelists who used other things other than Craigslist that they want to share? OK, Julian.
JULIAN: Well, I actually used Craigslist. And I found it reliable. I found my apartment on Craigslist. And my landlord was great.
I did have the opportunity to go look at it. But all the apartments I looked at-- I looked at seven apartments off Craigslist. And they were all pretty representative of what the ad was on Craigslist.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. Denise, you want to talk about our off-campus living search list?
DENISE THOMPSON: Sure. So we have a brand new search site that is extremely integrated and current. Our older site, which was live a month and a half ago was replaced. We have pictures. We have landlords and students. So you'll find both long-term rentals for a year.
You'll also find sublets. Our students who have signed a contract and maybe going abroad, or maybe leaving campus for whatever reason and are looking for subtenants also list there. So it is a very nice site we would encourage students to go to.
So if you go to offcampusliving.cornell.edu you look under Search-- the housing search process and then Search, you'll find a very specific link would be listings.cornell.edu.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you, Denise. So just to let everyone know, off-campus this living safety is really important to us. And so one of the new features with the website-- now this is for only apartments in the city of Ithaca proper. So [INAUDIBLE] talked about Varna. And we heard about Eastern Heights and Eastern Heights. Those are not listings in Ithaca.
But Fall Creek, Collegetown, Belle Sherman are all properties within the city of Ithaca. And in the city of Ithaca, all apartments are expected to be inspected every three years and receive a certificate of compliance. In the city of Ithaca, property managers and landlords can only list with us if they have a current certificate of clients.
So when you look at our website and you'll see that they have listed certificate of compliance, and also when it expires. And there will be new enhancements probably after your first search that will also be up and running in August that we're very, very excited about.
So please, I encourage you to use our website. It is probably one of-- I won't say-- I'll say it's one of the more safe places to find an apartment in Ithaca, because we have that policy about the certificate of compliance.
So this is a question. And any of our graduate students can answer this. But why don't Elizabeth. My program starts in late August. When is the right time to look for housing?
ELIZABETH: Hey. So if you are looking for housing for late August, you could start now. I know people who are signing leases now, who sign leases in February. That's pretty early. But you can also look a month or two before you arrive.
I think that one of the benefits of Ithaca is that there is a lot of turnover in housing here. And so you can do your housing search I would say anytime between five or six months before you arrive, up to like a month before you arrive. And I even know someone who found their housing in like-- they came here a week before school was going to start. And they found their housing. I don't know how typical that is. But they were definitely able to find a good deal, even though they started looking pretty late.
JULIE PAIGE: So personally I live in an apartment complex. And I know that the openings in the complex in the Northeast do advertise for housing right up through opening time. But again, I encourage you to look earlier for housing. But yes, if you wait a little bit of time, you'll still have an opportunity.
The one area that seems to go the most quickly is the area of Collegetown that I shared with you where a lot of the undergraduates live. That is the area that goes the most quickly. But there are some apartment complexes that are adjacent to Collegetown in the Belle Sherman area where there still might be housing through the summer.
One of the questions that had come up-- and I know one of our panelists has used this. Where can I find roommates? So I know a panelist did use our site last year. So if you could share with us how you can find roommates.
JULIAN: Yeah. So I used the LISTSERV. Some people are asking about the LISTSERV if they can't find it. I think Denise is going to help you find where the LISTSERV is. But basically it's just a LISTSERV with a whole bunch of other students looking for housing.
And I sent out an email saying, hey, I'm looking for a female roommate. This is my price range. I'm looking for someone to join with.
And then someone responded back. She was also a first-year PhD student in a different program. And then we decided to-- we met on Skype. And we talked to each other. We got along well.
And then we decided to look for a house together. And she lives a lot further away from me. She lived in California. And I lived in Montreal.
So it made sense for me to come down and actually look at the apartments. So then I looked at the apartments and then told her about them. And then we agreed on what.
And actually, by the way, she is now moving out, moving to a different place. So I'm going to be looking for a new roommate starting in August. That's when my lease is.
So I left my email address on the chat if any other girls are interested. It's jmf422, if anyone is interested. Thanks.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you so much. Very helpful. And Denise, you want to talk about our LISTSERV?
DENISE THOMPSON: So our LISTSERV as Julian spoke about, I did just add to the comments a copy of how to go about finding our LISTSERV. But you can use it for several things. One for finding a roommate. Also we have people who lost there their sublets.
But in order to sign up, you either have to use your Cornell net ID-- so your Cornell email. So mine is DMT29@cornell.edu.
Or if you're using a Gmail account or another, you'll have to send along to us proof that you're a Cornell student. So whether that's your acceptance letter or a letter from somebody within your department or your college that can verify that you are going to be a student here at Cornell. It's important that we're matching-- well we don't match-- but we provide the resource to Cornell affiliated students only, because we want to make sure that everyone knows who they're getting.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. So I'm going to ask specifically [INAUDIBLE] and Menesha to answer the next question. So why don't we start with [INAUDIBLE] and then Menesha.
How do international students find housing? Is there a forum to which I could connect with other students from my country-- and this person's country is India-- in my degree program to find roommates?
SPEAKER 6: Yes. I was trying to answer. It just hit me that I remember recently I found this Chinese-- I know you are from India-- but for international students, and I am from China, I found this Chinese student BBS which you can post an ad to look for roommates, of course, and look for rooms that people post ads leasing housing over there.
I think that is safer and more reliant website than the Craigslist. Is Not saying Craigslist is bad, though. And for student from other countries, I think yes. I think you can look for other like BBS website that you can connect with to the [INAUDIBLE] student that you have in Cornell as well as you can also always look for Craigslist.
I know it's a little bit dangerous. But I would say that you look for the contact, look for the room condition, like Denise suggested, and carefully. Then I think you will be fine.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. Menesha, are you-- talk a little bit?
MENESHA: Yeah. So I'm not an international student. So I can't really speak to how they might be able to find that. But I know that there are social media apps and pages that you could probably use to try and find roommates.
So one of the girls in my program who is from China, there's actually an app that she's used to meet other students who are coming to Cornell. And she found her roommate through that.
There is also lots of Facebook pages for international student groups here on Cornell. And that can be a really good way to meet people who are also coming to Cornell from your community, and ask whether or not they're looking for roommates. So if you go on to-- I can't remember the exact web page. But you can search Cornell, like which student groups are here at Cornell. And you can look for their affiliated Facebook page and try reaching out to people through that if you're looking to find people.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you so very much. So Menesha mentioned the different web pages. So there are several internet-- and I think graduate specifically internet groups-- cultural groups. So if you go to student organizations and look up graduate student organizations cultural groups, there might be some cultural group LISTSERVs that you can also get on to find students from your nation of origin that might need housing.
And Menesha, can you talk a little bit-- are you with the diversity committee in the graduate school?
MENESHA: Yeah. So I'm actually affiliated with the graduate and professional student assembly diversity and international students committee. Elena and Nate Stetson are also both on that committee. So we can all talk about that.
But we work with a variety of different student groups on campus for us to particularly tackling issues related to international student communities.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. Thank you very much.
So I'm going to direct this question to Denise Thompson. Are there any rental companies to watch out for, any red flags to look out for when renting from somebody? And Denise.
DENISE THOMPSON: Thank you, Julie. I would have to say that at Cornell we are not allowed to tell you which rental properties not to go for. This is where your due diligence is going to come in. You're going to want to ask questions of the landlord. You're going to want to ask for references.
It's important that you spend the time getting to know who your landlord is going to be, who you roommates or going to be. On our website, we have sample questions that you can ask your landlord and ask the people that they're giving as their reference. Unfortunately, we cannot give recommendations.
Working with your school, you might be able to have them put you in touch with students who might be able to give you a recommendation. But at this point, Cornell does not do that.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. Thank you very much.
So I'm going to direct this question to Elena and Menesha. What are the other areas in Collegetown that are social and lively? So could both of you talk about your experiences? Why not Elena go first. Talk about your experience living downtown in Ithaca.
ELENA: Yeah. So I would say the Commons is definitely social and lively. I would say it's slightly different in terms of the kind of lively and social it is than Collegetown, just because of the demographic of who lives there. In the Commons you get a lot of graduate students. And you get a lot of just Ithaca locals [INAUDIBLE] Collegetown.
It is just dominated by undergraduates. I would say it's very rare for me to be outside and just there's no one else out, even if I'm coming back at ridiculous hours, such as like 3:00 AM. There's still people out there having a great time.
And everyone's sociable. And so I've never felt uncomfortable just because there's always out that like don't [INAUDIBLE].
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. Menesha.
MENESHA: Yeah. So I would say that both-- sorry, I'm on my phone-- that in both Collegetown and on Commons there's lots of really great restaurants and bars and things you can do there. I would say that Elena's right when-- like Collegetown is really densely full of undergrads. So we almost always avoid like going out to anything nightlife-related in the Collegetown, just because we know it's going to be full of undergrads.
But down in the Commons there's more than enough bars and restaurants and places to hang out, with coffee shops if you're looking to study that you go and hang out with. Also near the Commons there's a couple of parks. So if you're just looking for places to hang out during the day, it's like a five-minute walk to any of those places to just chill and have a nice time.
So I almost always-- I go to one of the laundromats. And across the street is a park. And I just sit there and read on the weekends. So it's really nice.
JULIE PAIGE: So Nathaniel, you live in Fall Creek, which is near downtown. Could you talk about that a little bit?
NATHANIEL STETSON: Yeah. So I would say it's social again a very different way. People walk by on the street and will have conversations with you. It's a very sort of small town America neighborhood feeling. I talk to my neighbors pretty often.
One of them definitely made us cookies around Christmas. And the other one lends us power tools frequently. So yeah. Definitely a different kind of social.
There is a bar in Fall Creek. I've never been to it. My understanding is that the professors go there to get away from all of the students.
But again, it is--
JULIE PAIGE: Uh oh.
ELIZABETH: I can pick up where Nate may be frozen. Is that all right, Julia?
JULIE PAIGE: Yes. Sorry.
ELIZABETH: So I lived in Fall Creek last year. And I lived on Cuyaga and Hancock. And I found it to be very accessible. It was half a mile from the Commons. It was half a mile from this area where like there's a North Star restaurant and there's like a dry cleaners and a little diner that's really kind of fun to go to to eat like a cheap breakfast in the morning.
There's also Streets Alive Ithaca, where the entire neighborhood of Fall Creek, they close all the roads. And like 100 bands play in people's front yards or on their porches. And that's-- what?
JULIE PAIGE: Porchfest.
ELIZABETH: Porchfest. There we go. That's what I'm looking for. Porchfest. And that, I think, is really indicative of what the social life I guess in Fall Creek is like, where it's very neighborly. People are like really lively. There's lots of festivals. And there's like kids playing. And there's a creek that runs through it.
So you have just a lot of I guess like, porch life, I guess is how I would describe life in Fall Creek.
JULIE PAIGE: It is great. So thank you. And just to give my two cents about downtown Ithaca. So I moved here from Boston many years ago. And I really love cities. And for me, downtown Ithaca gives very much the flavor of a city for me.
People mention the restaurants downtown. There's a street called Aurora Street, what is nicknamed Restaurant Row. And it's just a very, very lively place to be.
And then you just mentioned the festivals. We have several festivals that happen during the year. In June we have Ithaca Festival. When the students are back we have the Apple Festival in September.
And the Commons is just a very alive place to live with the Fall Creek neighborhood being adjacent to the Commons.
Another area that I haven't mentioned is the South Hill neighborhood, which is also within walking distance to the Commons. And there are a couple of apartment complexes right at the beginning of South Hill that some graduate students do live in from Cornell. But the South Hill, the farther you get into that neighborhood is a high density Ithaca college undergraduate area.
So when you see South Hill as a neighborhood, if you choose that area, you will be living amongst a lot of Ithaca college undergrads. But it is another area that it's in walking distance downtown to the Commons.
So we're going to talk a little bit now about transportation. And I think [INAUDIBLE] mentioned you have a car and you drive to campus. Could you talk about parking on campus?
SPEAKER 6: Yeah. Sure. So I remember so when I first-- I used to walking the [INAUDIBLE] hall, which is on [INAUDIBLE] row right in the middle of the campus. And I have to park in the CC lot, which is for student parking. I think it's about $700 a year.
And right now I'm working at the veterinary school, I park at B lot, which is about $350 per year for parking. And I know that for post docs and for faculty and staff, they got free parking at A lot, which is adjacent to the high school apartment in the North campus.
And for students who don't want to pay for parking whatsoever, I know a lab mate used to drive to Collegetown and park there-- you have to get there very early-- and park there and walk to the campus, to the labs. Yes.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. Anyone else bring cars to campus? Any of our graduate students?
Elena, do you want to talk a little bit about that?
ELENA: Yes I don't bring my car to campus regularly. Because I do have to pay for parking downtown. So I don't want to also pay for parking on campus.
I can say that a lot of parking lots on campus will become free at certain times of day. So for example, like the parking lot across the street from my building where I work becomes free at 5:00 PM. So a lot of times I like to take the bus home or walk home and get my car and come back. And it's also free on the weekends, which is really nice. Yes.
JULIE PAIGE: And that's what I was going to say. I know my experiences with the graduate students that I've worked with over the years will go back and get their cars and bring them back at night.
Some of the areas-- and I know the Northeast area is one of those areas-- the buses stop at 10:30. So for someone like me, a bus stopping at 10:30 is fine, because I'm like going out on a bus at 10:30. But I know for our students, especially those of you who work in labs, 10:30 is very early. So many students will go home and get their cars if they do have a car.
DENISE THOMPSON: I would also like to add that many of our landlords-- the closer you are to campus, the more likely that the parking spaces that are around the apartment will not be included within your rent. Those landlords are leasing those parking spaces separately, either to the students who are renting from them or to students that live a little farther away that are looking for a more economical parking spot closer to campus.
JULIE PAIGE: So we know a lot of our graduate students mentioned parking a little farther away. And Denise is an example of someone who does not have a parking permit on campus. But there are other neighborhoods other than Collegetown that on the bus route that you can park in and then take-- there's the bus called the number 10.
And it comes every 10 minutes. And it stops a lot of places on the way from downtown. So there are other neighborhoods that you can park in that are near campus [INAUDIBLE].
One of the questions-- let's see. Maybe we haven't heard from Elizabeth for a while. So why don't we [INAUDIBLE] to Elizabeth.
I found apartments have shuttle services to campus. And we do have a few of those. But the last shuttle is at 4:30? Do we always have classes-- or regularly have classes later than 4:30? Or is the shuttle schedule OK?
ELIZABETH: I think it really depends on what classes you're taking. I know that there's some evening classes or evening exams that are often scheduled. And those can go as late as I think like 9:00 PM. And so it's really dependent on your situation. It's about-- I think that's it. Yeah.
I mean, most of the time honestly, like the bus route really is really like tremendous. And I personally think that Ithaca is really walkable. I walk up that hill every day. There's a really beautiful trail up Cascadilla Gorge. You walk by a river. You pass some waterfalls. You get to campus.
And it's steep for sure. But it's like a really pleasant way to start your morning. So I think that Ithaca is generally just like really walkable. So even if the shuttle is like maybe ends earlier than you'd like it to, you can either bike or walk home.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. So one of the next questions-- and I want to ask a few people this question. And I'm going to start with Julian from Eastern Heights. But can you describe the cultural environment of the surrounding Ithaca neighborhood in which you live? And I'm going to read it. And you can interpret it as you'd like.
JULIAN: OK. Well, I live in a pretty quiet neighborhood. And it's a very, very friendly neighborhood. Like when I walk by, when I drive by, you always wave at the person that you see.
I see people walking their dogs in the morning. And it's a really friendly neighborhood. And I see my neighbors sometimes.
And it's a really, really positive environment in Ithaca. In the quiet neighborhood, and also, when you go down to the downtown and everything, everyone is very, very nice and accepting of diversity. That's another thing. Ithaca is fairly diverse. Especially with the university, we get a lot of people from diverse backgrounds. And it's a very welcoming community for people from diverse backgrounds.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. So let's see. [INAUDIBLE], do you want to talk a little bit about your neighborhood and the cultural sense of your neighborhood?
SPEAKER 6: I would say so-- like Julian has mentioned that-- so people in Ithaca are very friendly. Like, you say hi to them when you drive by. And you can talk to them when they are doing their own-- like mowing their grass. And you can talk to them.
I remember one of my neighbor asked me if he made too much noise, and if me want him to turn it down or something like that. And I guess around my neighborhood, a lot of Chinese students, a lot of Chinese faculty and staff who lives there. And sometimes those who know each other, sometimes we will get together and have a dinner at one of our people's apartment. And have a dinner and chat and talk.
And I think that is how we get to know each other and how we [INAUDIBLE] our lives. Yes.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. Thank you so very much. So I'm going to turn this question to Denise. What is the average rent prices we can expect at Collegetown or nearby areas?
DENISE THOMPSON: Sorry about that. So that's kind of a difficult question to answer, because price is not always specific to certain attributes to the apartment or to the location. So I would say that the closer you are to campus, the more likely it is to be a little more expensive. The further you go out, you might get a larger apartment with more amenities and a lot less cost.
And the further out you go, you probably will have parking included. I've had students that pay rent starting at $400. And I've had students that have gone up to $1,500. So it is a vast variety of rent prices.
But you can find something within your price range. You might need to make some concessions. Like if you want to live alone, you might need to find a roommate to make that more cost-affordable. You might have to walk maybe 10 blocks versus four blocks.
So there are some things you're just going to have to really assess yourself about what you're willing to compromise on and what you're not willing to compromise on to make your best housing decisions.
JULIE PAIGE: So those of you who live in the Fall Creek area, so Nathaniel, do you have an idea of when you were looking at apartments the different prices you found down in Fall Creek?
NATHANIEL STETSON: Yeah. I was lucky enough to know that I had a potential place lined up before I actually got my acceptance. So I didn't do that much searching around the Fall Creek area. I know that $400 is definitely on the low end, but not unreasonable for a room in a house that you share with people. And a lot of the student housing in Fall Creek is houses that have been split up into either apartments or just that aren't split up. And people just rent individual rooms in a house. And so $400 is definitely not unreasonable for a room.
An apartment is probably going to be more like around $1,000 for a two-bedroom, in that range. I would say that in Fall Creek, the landlords are generally better. And the maintenance issues are generally better as well at in Collegetown. So you're definitely getting more for that same price bracket.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. Thank you very much. So the next question-- and I don't know if any of the graduate students have tried to look for sublets.
But Denise, if you could talk about good ways to find sublet. How do I go about finding an apartment to sublet for one semester?
DENISE THOMPSON: Well, we have our LISTSERV where students can post their sublets if they're going to be going away for the spring or fall semester. And then obviously [INAUDIBLE] other websites. Zulo also offer those options as well.
But one of the things to remember is if you're only going to be here for a short amount of time, you want to sign for that time period. If you're only going to be here for a semester, most lease agreements in Ithaca are 12 months long. And you're only going to be here for four. So you are still liable for those other eight months worth of rent.
So I would encourage you to only sign a lease agreement for the time that you're here. So you might not find a sublet on our website or other websites. But as you get closer to the start of the school year, landlords may be willing to negotiate with you where you may pay for five months versus 12 months.
So have that conversation. You might want to talk to your professors, your staff within your college to see if they know of anyone who's going to be taking a break or going abroad who's going to be doing a co-op in New York City or DC, that type of thing. So the more questions you ask of everybody will be very helpful.
You're not alone in this process. We're all here with you.
JULIE PAIGE: And maybe you said this. But really make sure when you do sublet, you really have a written agreement. No matter how well you think you know the person-- even if they're your best friend-- because when all of a sudden plans change, if you don't have that written agreement, it can become very messy. And they might not be your best friend next week.
So those are really important things to think about when you're some subletting. Because I think people think, oh, this can be a little bit looser. We know each other. Always have a written agreement. So thank you.
So one of the questions that just came is about safety. And I want to ask different people's opinions, especially those of you that might walk back and forth to campus at different times of the day, or what you do to keep yourself safe. So why don't we start with Elena?
ELENA: I'm sorry. I was answering questions by text. Can you repeat the question?
JULIE PAIGE: It's about safety. And I think probably from the Commons you walk at different times of the day back and forth to campus. So can you talk about that? And what do you think about that?
ELENA: Yeah. I have never felt unsafe either on campus or in the surrounding areas. I've walked home. I mentioned this in Commons. I tend to walk home.
Usually I tend to walk home usually around 11:00 PM. But sometimes I walk home around 3:00 AM. And it's the same. People, if they see you, they say hi sometimes.
But there's also on campus at least a lot of safety measures, such as blue lights, which are located at specific distances between each other. And if you feel like you're in trouble, or you see something happen, you can go to the blue light and hit the button. That will call [INAUDIBLE]. But like I said, I think it's a very safe community here.
JULIE PAIGE: Menesha, would you like to talk about safety too?
MENESHA: Yeah, sure. So I also walk home pretty late. I'm just packed during the day. So I've never really felt unsafe walking-- especially on campus. I've never felt unsafe walking around on campus late at night. And even walking home-- cause I also live near the Commons. I've never felt really unsafe walking home.
I would say still be aware of your surroundings. Just cause Elena and I are saying that it's safe, doesn't mean that you can totally check out as you walk home. I am still kind of keeping my eye out and just watching around. But I've never really felt like anything was going to happen. So it's definitely doable, especially if you feel like living farther away.
So my first year when I lived out at Northwood apartments, one of the downsides was that the bus stopped running at a certain point. And so I felt like I had to plan my schedule around that, because I couldn't really walk home as easily there, because it was farther away. So if you feel like you might be staying on campus later, it might be better to live closer to campus so you can walk home.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. And just to let everyone know, we do have graduate students that live in lower Collegetown and upper Collegetown. And they're fairly close to campus. The buses run I think a little bit later in Collegetown. So it is an area that if you want to live more close, it is an area to think about.
So this is a question. So I'm trying to think-- maybe Elizabeth, I'll have you answer this question. What are the disadvantages of staying around undergraduates? And any graduate student can answer this question. Like, why would you choose not to live in an undergraduate area?
ELIZABETH: I think it's just a lifestyle preference. Some people may choose to live-- I think living around undergraduates, it tends to just be a little bit louder. And also rental prices tend to be much higher in Collegetown. So I think those two reasons encouraged me to look elsewhere, maybe not right next to campus.
I also didn't come directly from my undergraduate to graduate school. And so living within a community was really important to me, like within the community of Ithaca itself and integrating myself with it there. So I guess all of those factors played into my choice to live not right amongst undergraduates.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. So we are going to conclude with the question portion of this webinar. But remember, if you have a question, you know you have five minutes left to submit it. And please include your email address. And someone from our office staff or another graduate student will get back to you.
Now I'm going to ask each of our panelists-- and I'm going to start with [INAUDIBLE]-- one tip that you'd like to give to a graduate student-- an incoming graduate student looking for housing.
SPEAKER 6: Yes. So I think the most important thing I would say is that for international students, first year you come in, you most likely you don't have a car. So I would suggest you find a place that you have very frequent bus service, like 10 minutes, five minutes to live with to begin your first year. Then you can have a car and drive around and look for other new place that you like better.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. Elena.
ELENA: I would say just really don't feel shy about asking people in your program if they can help you by going to like tour places and take pictures for you, because people will be more than happy to do that.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. Nathaniel.
NATHANIEL STETSON: So I have seen a lot of people have problems with their landlords, including withholding security deposits. That's the classic one, or charging for damage that isn't real. And I know Denise mentioned that her office is not allowed to recommend people away from certain landlords. But definitely graduate professional students who've been here for a while will know.
And speaking as a law student, know your rights. It's very easy to Google, as Denise was mentioning, Ithaca landlord/tenant law and New York State landlord/tenant law.
And a lot of the time, if you just make it clear to a landlord when you're talking with them that you know your rights, and that you're prepared to enforce them either your own, or the barest threat of legal action will often get them to back off. It does not take much. They're just used to nobody pushing at all.
So just push a little bit. And your outcomes will probably be good.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you so much, Mr. lawyer. Thank you. And do look at that tenant's rights guide.
MENESHA: I would say think about how often you're really going to be going back and forth from campus to, because certain places, just by nature of them being farther away and having less frequent bus routes are going to make it a little bit more difficult for you to like run back home and run back up and get your stuff and move around. So for me that was something I found myself doing a lot, where I was needing to run back around and back [INAUDIBLE]. So I tried to stay closer to campus.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. Elizabeth.
ELIZABETH: I would agree with Nate. Definitely read your lease. And you can often negotiate terms on your lease. I know I did that with the place that I'm living now as far as what I can store here and like what are utilities payments were.
Additionally, reach out to your graduate field assistant in your department. One thing I haven't heard I guess on here is that often our graduate field assistant will send out emails with other graduate students in my department looking for either sublets or housing. And I found that that's a really reliable way to get access to listings as well.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you. And Julian?
JULIAN: OK. I would recommend to really know your priorities and know your ideals and kind of rank them, because you might not find something absolutely perfect-- your dream home. But you want to know what's most important to you, whether it be proximity to campus, whether it be price, whether it be having a washer and dryer. Know the things that you don't want to give on. And know the things that, oh, I might be OK with this. I might be OK with that.
JULIE PAIGE: So I [INAUDIBLE] Denise.
DENISE THOMPSON: So I would like to add all the panelists are perfect, and what they've said is great. I know that what I feel is important is getting references. And that can feel like a really complicated conversation to have or odd to talk to your landlord about.
So like I said before, having a frank conversation. You could talk to your landlord and say, hey, this might seem a little weird. Or it might not feel like a normal question. However, if you could get to me two references-- like a current tenant and a previous tenant. And I realize you may not have that information right now.
But if he could get that to me within the next couple of days, that would be really great. So that's how you could start that conversation with the landlord about getting references, because the references will help you-- just like talking to graduate field assistants or other people in your school-- will help you figure out if that landlord is really who you want to talk to, who you want to live with. So asking a lot of questions will be very helpful.
JULIE PAIGE: Thank you, Denise. So I want to thank Denise, my wonderful colleague in Off-campus Living. And I want to thank our six graduate students for getting up very early today to share their wise information with you. And we have some people in the background-- Wendy, Alex, and Ruby, who you haven't seen on camera today. But they've been assisting us with questions, with It, and setting up this webinar.
So just remember, take your time, ask questions. You'll have a great housing search. And please write to us at OffcampusLiving@cornell.edu if you have any further questions. And this webinar will be posted on CornellCast if you'd like to watch it again.
Have a good day. Congratulations. And welcome to Cornell University.
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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 28, 2017, 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.