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How far from campus do you live?


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48 replies to this topic

Poll: How far from campus do you live? (134 member(s) have cast votes)

How far from campus do you live?

  1. Less than a mile (1.61km) (38 votes [28.36%])

    Percentage of vote: 28.36%

  2. 1 to 3 miles (1.6-4.8km) (42 votes [31.34%])

    Percentage of vote: 31.34%

  3. 3 to 6 miles (4.8-9.7km) (19 votes [14.18%])

    Percentage of vote: 14.18%

  4. 6 to 10 miles (9.7-16km) (11 votes [8.21%])

    Percentage of vote: 8.21%

  5. more than 10 miles (16km) (24 votes [17.91%])

    Percentage of vote: 17.91%

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#1 singlecell

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 11:49 PM

Thanks for responding, this relates to my (and others') grad school apartment search. I had a conversation with a friend who left her grad program during the first year and she said she wished she had lived closer to campus, and it may have contributed to her demise that she had to commute an hour each way every day. So how far do you live from campus? Is it more important to live close in the first two years of PhD while taking classes, and less important afterwards? Is there something to be said for living a couple of miles away, to get away from the noise of undergraduates?
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#2 lyonessrampant

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 12:03 AM

We don't have a place yet, but we've contracted a realtor to find a place for us, and I've pretty much said no farther away from campus than a max 30 minute commute on a direct transportation line (bus, train, etc.) and ideally about 10 minutes from campus. I do think living close is important for research, energy, and socialization.
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#3 repatriate

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 12:27 AM

This will probably depend a lot on what type of city your university is in. I go to one of those schools in a big "college town" in the middle of nowhere, so no one lives more than a few miles from campus, at most. When I was in a large city, it was much more common for students to live much further than that or to have longer commutes.

Also consider the kind of transportation you will have available. Can you afford to keep a car and park on campus? Will you be dependent on buses? Do you like the idea of walking to school? Will you be in a bike friendly city? The same commute could take very different times in each of these transportation modes.

Whether it is good to avoid living with the undergrads simply depends on what kind of living situation you enjoy and also a little on the culture of your school. Can you work/sleep while your neighbors are being noisy? Where I am, grad students don't socialize much with undergrads--we even go to different bars in a different part of town for the most part--so there's not much to be gained from living near them. At another school, the situation would be completely different. Also, at some schools, undergrads are targets of crime (sexual assault, mugging) as they walk back home drunk from the bars. You might be safer living in a different area. Definitely look at the crime reports.

You might be able to get advice from current students in your program about what kind of living situation is common and/or what suits your preferences.
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#4 poco_puffs

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 12:55 AM

Agreed on being aware of transportation options and realities. Because those are two very different things.

I live 2.5 miles from campus with my boyfriend who also works at the university. He manages to ride his bike back and forth each day because he's a rockstar, whereas I take the bus (14 minute ride) each morning. The big caveat out of all of this is that my bus stops running from campus to my house at 6pm, so transportation after night classes gets complicated with either transfers or bumming rides from nice classmates. Also, the bus to the university stops during summer months due to budget cuts.

So, here's my advice from very personal experience: If you live more than a mile away from campus (or whatever distance you find walkable) and you are NOT planning to pay exorbitant amounts for parking permits, fees and gas, then consider living close (within 4-5 blocks) of a busline. Just make sure to check the website of the local transportation district/board to see when service stops during the day and if it goes over school breaks as well. Additionally, be aware if there is more than one bus route that could get you back home, just in case one of them gets cut or changed around.

My boyfriend would add: If you are going to bike, first invest in a bike lock (something that takes more than cutters/clippers to get through) and then keep your bike tuned up for maximum comfort and efficiency. Your body will thank you.
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#5 rising_star

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 01:07 AM

During my MA program, I lived about 3 miles from campus. It was a 10 minute drive or a 20 min bus ride to campus. I moved exclusively to riding the bus once gas got above $3.50/gallon.

Now I'm in my PhD and I've never lived more than 2.5 miles from my campus office. I commute on a bike pretty much every day.
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#6 eco_env

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 01:14 AM

I'm planning to live kind of far from campus- about 45 minutes on the bus or 20 minutes driving (but I won't have a car, probably). I'm still wondering if I should live closer to campus and give up certain (rather essential)convienences.
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#7 michpc

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 01:55 AM

I'm all about convenience...I would prefer to be no more than a 30min commute by the slowest method. I'm planning to likely bike mostly when it's nice out, and take public transit when it's not. Walking distance would be even better, but I'm not sure if that will happen.
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#8 hejduk

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 02:23 AM

I'm all about convenience...I would prefer to be no more than a 30min commute by the slowest method. I'm planning to likely bike mostly when it's nice out, and take public transit when it's not. Walking distance would be even better, but I'm not sure if that will happen.


We're paying a bit for the convenience of walking, but being able to go home quickly for a break or lunch is a huge plus for me. It'll be my first year, so it's probably really important that I'm a constant face in my dept as well. If the situation arises that we can afford to live further from campus, and need a more private housing situation (we'll be living in the basement apartment of a house), then we'll consider it year-by-year.

I think biking or walking to campus just has too many pluses to pass-up.
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#9 fuzzylogician

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 03:28 AM

My commute is 15 minutes by bike, 25-35 minutes by bus/subway. I like not living too close to campus, I actually enjoy having somewhat of a commute - some time I spend every day listening to music or reading a book and not working. I agree, though, that living too far away from campus can be difficult too. It depends both on the way you commute and the distance you have to travel. For me an hour would be too much, but 40-45 minutes is still reasonable.

Edited by fuzzylogician, 05 May 2011 - 03:43 AM.

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The advice in this post is based on my own personal experience. YMMV.
Pardon my typos..

#10 Bumblebee

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 11:52 AM

I take the bus to go to campus (a 15-20 minutes ride), which is not bad, but buses don't work on Sundays and on Saturdays the bus runs every hour, so I'm going to move to a place which is slightly closer to campus and, more importantly, much better connected (more frequencies on Saturdays, bus on Sundays). It's a pain when your classmates want to create study groups/hang around on Sundays and you have to say no because there no way to can go (there's a limited amount of times that I can ask for rides, I don't want to abuse).
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#11 Roccoriel

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 04:33 PM

I was accepted to a school that's a 20-30 minute drive from home. I hate moving, so we're not. From our current apartment, I can either drive down, ride down with my boyfriend (who happens to work in the same town I'm studying in) or take the train (if I can find a way from the station to the school). So I have several options as to how to get to school.

I suppose it would be easier to live a bit nearer to campus, but tbh, my master's program is a 1 hour train ride (each way) from my apartment, so 20-30 minutes seems a good deal!
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#12 singlecell

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 03:21 AM

this is pretty helpful. It looks from the poll like 1-3 miles is the sweet spot.
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#13 far_to_go

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 02:34 PM

I live about 1.5 miles from my department's building on campus, and I can get there in about 15 minutes by bus or 25 minutes by walking. I definitely wouldn't want to live further away. In grad school, you need every minute of time you can get!
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#14 Behavioral

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 10:51 PM

I live about 1.5 miles from my department's building on campus, and I can get there in about 15 minutes by bus or 25 minutes by walking. I definitely wouldn't want to live further away. In grad school, you need every minute of time you can get!


This year, I'm paying a bit extra to live around 15 minutes walking from my lab (incoming first year). After coursework is done, I may live a bit further away (5-7 miles) so I can be closer to the city. Luckily I'm not in the Biosciences (used to be in undergrad), so I can do a lot of my work outside of my lab or office.
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#15 juilletmercredi

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 10:12 AM

It depends on the culture of the program.

In one of my departments (psychology) virtually everyone lives within a 5 minute walk to campus, in university subsidized housing. The uni is in a large city and owns several apartment buildings in the vicinity of the uni's main campus, and students rent them at lower cost than it would cost to rent an apartment in that very expensive neighborhood. It's also important to note that this department's research requires a lot of lab work, so students are in the lab 4 or 5 days a week for several hours. Most social events happen in that neighborhood and on campus, so staying connected with the department is sometimes dependent on being there. It's pretty easy to get an apartment through the grad housing for this branch of the campus; anyone who applies basically gets one.

On the other hand, my primary department is located on the medical center campus of the university and graduate housing here is poor - both in quality (the ones by the main campus are WAY nicer) and in availability. Most people who apply for housing don't get it, and so most of the doctoral students live commuting distance from campus. My colleagues generally commute anywhere from 20 minutes to 1.5 hours to get to campus every day on public transit (no one drives).

Given the interdisciplinary nature of my program, I took 50% of my classes and did about 30-40% of my research and advisor-related work on the main campus and did the other half of classes and the greater proportion of research on the medical branch. I live a 10-minute walk from the medical center but a 30-minute commute on public transit from the main campus, so I have experience both ways.

IMO: you do what you gotta do. If you want to be here, you do the commute...I was excited to go to my main campus classes and events so it was rarely a burden to commute down there (and that was in BIG part because of public transit. You don't have to think). Also it depends on the neighborhoods and quality of life. I have some friends who live 1.5 hours away from the med campus, but they live in Brooklyn and one of the reasons they move out there is because Brooklyn's a diverse borough with some great neighborhoods. Sometimes it's a cost issue - few of my friends at NYU live in Greenwich Village; they tend to live in Brooklyn because it's the cheapest close place. Queens and Brooklyn and upper Manhattan have cheaper rent rates as well, so sometimes it's about being able to afford the neighborhood. The surrounding area around unis tend to be expensive.

Sometimes I wish I lived farther away. I'm always here. I feel perpetually available, and perpetually 'at school.' It is convenient for traveling to courses and stuff, and I will agree with hejduk that being able to come home for a break or for lunch is a big plus. But I also agree with fuzzylogician that sometimes that commute can help you get prepared for whatever it is you're about to do. Especially once you finish your coursework and aren't necessarily there every day...moving away is no big deal. Unless you have lab work.
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#16 Henry Hudson

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 11:02 PM

I prefer to be in walking distance (to me, up to two miles), preferably along streets that are bikeable. I also like to be somewhere near bus routes for bad weather days.

I live about 3 blocks from the small downtown campus here, where my office is, along with my grad program office. Main campus (where the library, most services, and the classes I teach are) is about 5-6 miles away, and I have the choice of two bike/pedestrian trails to get to/from there even without bus.

I'd prefer to be closer to the library, but it works. Sept-April, buses run at least once every 10-20 minutes, ad May-Aug it's often nice enough to bike regularly (buses vary quite a bit, but no worse than once every 40 minutes).

I like to be close, but don't want to be in a student ghetto, nor anywhere too expensive. And I definitely prefer urban to suburban housing, unless said suburbs are close to a woodland trail network or something similar to offset the blandness of suburbia.




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Applied to: Michigan State U, U of Michigan, and Rutgers. 

Might apply to McGill, too.


#17 captiv8ed

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 11:25 PM

I am a mile and a half. I walk to school most days. I am also on the bus route. The things I love about my neighborhood: it is NOT in the college area. My town is really small and dominated by the uni, but even at my distance, I am out of party and trash strewn zone. I am in an area with a lot of houses and most of my neighbors are families or singles who work at the school. There are some students, but it is a really quiet area. Also, I am a block from downtown. This gives me the ability to go to bars, shops, and restaurants that are not affiliated with the campus (although usually full of students and faculty). It helps to get that separation.
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#18 psycholinguist

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 01:58 AM

I live a kilometre (in this case, about eight blocks) from my department, and I love it. Although I can understand the feeling of wanting to go home to a place set apart from school, in the middle of a big city I don't even have to walk by campus if I don't want to, and the neighbourhood I live in doesn't feel like a student-ghetto at all. Meanwhile: if I forget something, I can go back for it; if I find out about a meeting twenty minutes before it happens, I can get there with time to spare; I walk between home and campus and grocery-stores and downtown and so on often enough that I don't have to bother going to the gym; and I don't have to rely on public transit. Well, I don't mind buses too much, and I actually like the subway; but it's really nice to be able to lock my door and set out knowing that I'm not going to have to stand around waiting for something. (I realise that this is also true for people who bike, but I personally don't feel safe biking in a city of this size. * laughs *)

It is more expensive: this is true. But I'm so fond of living this close that a few hundred dollars a month is a reasonable price to pay for a huge increase in my quality-of-life.

Edited by psycholinguist, 19 May 2011 - 02:00 AM.

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#19 Brandi88

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Posted 13 July 2011 - 05:30 PM

I'm moving from out of town and my apartment is about 7 miles from the campus. The closer to the campus, the more expensive it seems... However I'll take a train in each day as the station is across the street from my campus.
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#20 ktel

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Posted 13 July 2011 - 06:11 PM

For my undergrad I lived 20km away from campus. Taking the bus sucked because I have to transfer at least twice, so about an hour and a half total. It's a 30 minute drive in good traffic. I would typically drive to an area near campus then park and take the bus (we have an included student bus pass), and that would take about 45 minutes.

For grad school I live 13km from the Aerospace Department and 5km from main campus. I don't know yet how my time will be split between the two, but I'm planning on playing varsity rugby, so I will have to be on main campus at least 3 times a week. It's about a 45 minute commute on transit to my department and 15 minutes to main campus.
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