It’s that time again: housing time. Even though a good chunk of you just made it to campus, for some reason people go rather batshit crazy over housing extremely early in the semester. What this means is that you need to gather up some of your newly minted BFFs — stat — and start taking short tours of various Collegetown caves before all the good ones are snatched away. If you don’t understand why anyone would ever want to leave the confines of campus, keep reading.
I chose to live in a program house for two years, and while I thoroughly enjoyed myself, now I know that living off-campus is far superior. The biggest decider in my housing shift was the money factor. It costs you $7,800 a year to live in a double on campus. If you divide that by nine months (September to May), you’re effectively paying about $865 per month in rent. And if you exclude the month of Winter Break when you’re not even living there, housing is costing you nearly $1,000 a month. Last year I paid $615 a month (including utilities) for a five-person house on East State Street, where everybody got their own bedroom and an off-street parking spot. It was a 15-minute walk from the Engineering Quad, which is, give or take, equivalent to the trek from West Campus, minus the steepness of the Slope.
As I mentioned before, a really nice perk of living off campus is that you’re not kicked out of your pad once the December holidays roll around. I love my family, but I want nothing more than to strangle the crap out of them after two weeks of too much togetherness in the same house. Winter break used to drive me crazy, but now I can stay in Ithaca a little longer. When school isn’t in session, you actually have time to hang out with friends and do whatever the hell you want, even if all you want to do is watch entire seasons of White Collar, read the entire Game of Thrones series and order lots of Wings and/or Taste of Thai.
The other deciding factor in my housing shift was that I wanted more freedom. I was sick of the fire department dictating how many origami pterodactyls could be put on the outside of my door and what kind of lamp I was allowed to have in my room. Just maybe, fire department, I want my lamp to resemble a flailing squid and just maybe I want it to illuminate ALL of the cardinal directions at once. Why do you gotta go and ruin all of my fun? I suffer no such lighting woes off the C.U. grid because landlords could care less about your lamp as long as you don’t accidentally put a crater in the wall while pretending to use it as a lightsaber.
When there are no R.A.s or R.H.D.s around to tell you what to do you have a hell of a lot more freedom. Sometimes I feel like singing “O Canada” at the top of my lungs at 2 a.m. or having a random-ass spaghetti food fight in the living room. And other times I just want to throw an impromptu dance party and blast “The Bad Touch” so that all my neighbors can tune in and sing along to some of the most spectacular bawdy puns in musical history. Having to deal with campus-imposed rules, like quiet hours, can really stifle some of the more fun things you’ll do in college.
Last but not least, living in Collegetown (or even above North Campus) will also provide you with front row seats to what my housemate affectionately calls “the skank parade.” Now that a good chunk of C-town speakeasies have shut down, there are even more ladies looking for a boozy shindig on any given day between Thursday and Saturday. Watching said damsels teeter-totter around College Ave in their stilettos is something akin to the 8th wonder of the college world. I really have no idea how they do it; both in terms of keeping their balance while tackling the potholed hills and in keeping their asses from falling out of their dresses (sometimes). I think it has to be magic.
Of course, with the extra freedoms you gain from non-campus living you also gain you some real life drudgery, like dishes, scrubbing the toilet (oh the horror!) and cooking things other than Ramen in a water boiler. But really, gaining some basic life skills never hurt anyone, and — guys, take note — knowing how to cook is tremendously sexy.
Sure, you freshmen are still reveling in the all-you-can-eat desserts at the dining halls with their never-ending supply of carbs, but dining hall eating gets really old, really fast. Of course you’re going to miss late-night eateries that take BRBs and having other people clean your bathroom, but I assure you that it is totally worth it. So grab yourself a (root) beer and start browsing the classifieds for your future Collegetown Barbie Dream House.
Sam Dean is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Casual WTFery appears alternate Thursdays this semester.