New lease on housing experience

By Jess Decina

“Three bedroom house with brand new carpet and new fridge. [It has] a living room, dining room, eat-in kitchen. Tenant pays all utilities.”

“Great home in Ewing for rent [with] four bedrooms and one bath, washer and dryer, fenced-in backyard. Just a few minutes from campus.”

A quick search for “off-campus housing” on the University’s Web site reveals dozens of listings similar to these. While moving off-campus isn’t a vastly popular trend, it is an opportunity some students on both the Lawrenceville and Princeton campuses are taking advantage of.

With the New Building and Lincoln Hall all filled up, Associate Director of Residence Life Stephanie Polak attributes the off-campus migration to students wanting what they can only get by winning the housing lottery.

“Students want a single room, and they want air conditioning,” she said. “I think when students apply for the lottery and don’t get it, they say, ‘You know what? I might look off campus.’”

That was junior Diana Vigorito’s exact reaction when she and her two roommates tried to find housing for their senior year. She resides in a three-person apartment on campus which was “nice for a while, but got too cramped.”

“It was the three of us sleeping in one bedroom with a kitchen that didn’t have a dishwasher,” she said. “Everything was just starting to bug us.”

Vigorito and her roommates tried to get a spot in the New Building for
better living conditions. Unable to find a fourth roommate, they began searching for off-campus housing.

“I have friends that live off campus and they love it,” Vigorito said. “You’re more independent and have much more freedom than living on campus.”

It’s a different story at Westminster Choir College (WCC). According to junior music major Kristine DiMauro, the end of her sophomore year was “a scramble” to find housing.

DiMauro and several other WCC students lived in an apartment for the school year. Although she enjoyed having her own place, other factors often caused problems.

“One of my biggest hardships is getting to and from campus, especially in inclement weather,” she said. “It was difficult to get to school [in Monday’s weather] because every one of the roads to Princeton was closed.”

DiMauro also had roommate issues that she wasn’t used to, citing instances of too much noise, problems with
sharing food and the overall cost.

“Princeton is very expensive, but the apartment was a nice enough place for a cheap enough price,” DiMauro said.

Vigorito doesn’t foresee any roommate problems, but she’s well aware of the financial and traveling issues she will have to face next year, she said.

Still, living on campus remains widely popular. Polak noted that more than 300 students showed up last week for the housing lottery on the Lawrenceville campus. Four-person apartments and suites on campus were only awarded to groups where all four members were
rising seniors, leaving students with fewer credits no chance.

“Housing requests are higher for returning students than they’ve ever been,” said Polak. “Students don’t want corridor style [housing].”

But as Vigorito will be a senior next year, having a place of her own “is an indoctrination into the real world.” Vigorito and her roommates will have to pay bills and rent. But the perks of the apartment are worth it, she said.

“I’m looking forward most to not having to share my bedroom with two other people,” Vigorito said.
Still, there are several facets of on-campus life that residents-turned-commuters often miss. Polak hears numerous commuters bemoan the loss of campus comforts.

“I know a lot of students who move off-campus say they really miss Daly’s,” she said. “Not for the meals. It’s a place to hang out and go with your friends.”

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