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gradgirl

South Bend, IN (Notre Dame)

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I grew up in the South Bend area, did my undergraduate work in the area, and my brother goes to Notre Dame now. I'd be more than happy to give anyone info about Notre Dame or northern Indiana in general.

ND's campus is sort of isolated from South Bend, and they are taking steps to isolate themselves still further by closing a main road that previously went through campus. Downtown South Bend is only about 3 miles from ND. There's a decent strip of shopping/restaurants/etc near campus, and in the past few years it's been growing steadily in terms of stuff to do. If you are vegan/vegetarian/health conscious, there are a few great privately owned health food stores in the area as well, and ... *drum roll*...some really awesome coffeehouses! The cost of housing will vary depending upon how far from campus you live, but I'm sure that's pretty normal with most college areas. If you need help finding housing or want more info on the area than you might get from ND's website, check out http://www.ndtoday.com, a popular site among students. To register you may need an ND email address, but I think some parts of the site are available without registration.

The campus is beautiful... and while ND can be a little brusque during the admissions process, they really take care of their students once you're in.

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Thanks for the info!

I was accepted at ND for their CSE PhD program and I am pretty sure I will end up going there. I am both vegetarian and health conscious and was a little put off by the number of greasy restaurants near campus during my visits, it is great to hear that their are at least a few health food stores in the area. After living in LA for the past 5 years South Bend obviously has a bit of a different feel to it, but the ND campus is really nice and it seems like there is a pretty active on campus life for most students (especially if you like college football in the fall!) Is there much off campus life? I love to stay active by playing volleyball, do you know if many people play in South Bend? (or the surrounding areas?) Thanks!

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While I'm sure it's probably much easier/more common to find vegetarian cuisine in a place such as LA, I wouldn't worry about it at all in the Notre Dame area. Sure, there are your usual midwest-meat-and-potatoes kinds of places, and lots of unhealthy food, and you WILL be in the minority as a vegetarian, but I've been vegetarian for 9 years (vegan for 1.5) and I've never had problems in the area. We have a chain of stores called Meijer (Wal-Mart's midwestern competitor) and they carry quite a wide selection of vegan products. The other major grocery stores in the area, Martin's and Kroger, both do pretty well too. My favorite, however, is a store called Harmony Market... they have multiple brands of practically everything vegan you could ever imagine--even premade vegan deli sandwiches if you're in a hurry. They also carry organic produce. If you want bulk grains and spices and other specialty products, there's also a small store nearby called Garden Patch.

In terms of restaurants, there's a wide selection of ethnic cuisine--one of my favorites is a place called Elia's right by campus (Mediterranean food). There are also several Indian restaurants, a Thai place, and lots of locally owned Italian and Mexican places. Most importantly, though, is the fact that the area is growing so rapidly. When I visited my family over Christmas, I couldn't believe how many new stores and restaurants had opened since I'd been there last, only 6 months before. With all of the stuff that's been being built and opened, the options are bound to only get better.

As for campus life: never have I seen such campus loyalty and unity among students. It really does feel like a community there. The undergrad dorms are almost fraternity/sorority-like and there are always a lot of events--often free for students--going on on campus. Notre Dame brings in some really good concerts (I saw about 5-6 concerts there while I was a student--most of which were almost free), as well as great guest speakers, TV show tapings (I attended a taping of Hardball at one point), and theater productions (lots of Shakespeare). Their art museum is also pretty nice. And, as you mentioned, football--the games are always a good time...and if you need to miss a game to do work, you can be almost guaranteed that no one will be around to interrupt you on game weekends...hehe. I did experience some frustrations with the football, mostly the traffic (South Bend really can't accommodate a huge influx of people) and also some campus and city stuff will shut down on game weekends, so be prepared for that. It can be a major inconvenience if you forget or don't plan ahead.

Off-campus life is pretty limited. There's a pretty clear divide between the ND community and the South Bend community; I'm not sure if I'd call it animosity, exactly, but many ND students have a pretty negative attitude about the "townies." There are some college bars, about 2 dance clubs, but nothing spectacular. I believe there are some sports leagues (my ex played in a couple of softball leagues and I think he's doing basketball now) but these things aren't heavily advertised and I wouldn't know who to point you toward to find out about them. The lack of off-campus life is probably the thing I found most frustrating as an undergraduate; there was a continual feeling that if you weren't going to go to a dorm party or house party, there was really nothing else to do at night--whether you wanted to drink or not. I wasn't a huge drinker myself, so there wasn't always a lot to do. I guess all of this is to say, don't expect Notre Dame/South Bend to feel like a city, really. There's not the same bustle, and beyond the student body you may not meet a whole lot of other people in the community unless you actively try to seek these relationships and are careful not to seem 'braggy' about your ND degree. This, however, was just my experience and what I observed going on with others I knew.

Good news: in the warmer weather you'll just be about 30-40 minutes from Lake Michigan (the beaches on the Michigan side) and maybe a bit further from Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. (I prefer the beaches in Michigan--the lake is actually quite beautiful and can feel almost oceanic depending on where you go.) If you could get together a few people, it's a blast playing beach volleyball there :)

Also, there is a commuter train between the South Bend airport and downtown Chicago. It only costs about $10.40 each way--it's about a 2 hour trip or so because the train makes lots of stops, but it's well worth it if you don't have a car. It's nice just having the option there if you do feel like you want to escape for awhile and spend some time in a city.

Okay--I hope this helps! Let me know if you want any more specifics.

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Excellent info. After visiting ND a few times and talking to the students that I know who go there (I've been working with a few ND grad students for about a year) I had guessed that off campus life isn't to big. I attended one pep rally before a football game during a visit during the fall (Dillion hall i think), I definitely see what you are talking about with each dorm having a frat feel. I went to a undergrad school that didn't have a greek system so that will be different, but as a grad student I'm sure I won't really need to deal with any of it if I don't want to. Going up to lake michigan sounds like a great idea, how many months of the year is it reasonable to go to the beach? (water temperature not important, I'm much more of a beach volleyball/sun-tanning person than a surfer/swimmer)

One thing I am curious about is the campus feel for someone who is not religious. I am not catholic, or religious in general and am quite liberal politically. I understand that as such I will be in the minority, but will it be socially awkward? In my department it shouldn't be a problem as most of the students are international but I am curious about how things work out socially.

Thanks for your help, I will probably be making my deicison in the next week or two, so all your information is extremely valuable right now.

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You can probably comfortably go to the beach about May through October....maybe a few days in April if you're brave. It does take the water awhile to warm up (sometimes until late June or so). There are a few weeks in the summer when you most definitely will NOT want to go, though.....there's a week or so (in late June, I think) when a ton of fish (alewives) wash up dead on the shore and the smell is awful. The beaches clean them up and it's only a problem for a week or two, but you definitely don't want to go during that time..heh. Also in late August there can be lots of biting flies for a couple of weeks. But considering how nice the beaches there can be the REST of the summer aside from those few weeks, we just kind of deal with it. It's not a huge issue.

As for the religious stuff...I may as well just say, I went to Notre Dame's sister school so we were basically included in every aspect of the Notre Dame community. My school was just across the street from Notre Dame, and it was Catholic as well. I'm not Catholic. My experience of both my school and Notre Dame was fine in that respect... I didn't feel pressured at all and I was never singled out for being non-Catholic. I went to a couple of masses just to see what it was like, but it was never forced on me...in fact, the religious studies courses I had to take as a part of my degree actually asked us to question Catholic beliefs as well as to learn about other major religions and the history of religious belief. I know you won't have to take those courses as a graduate student, but I think it speaks well for the school that they can be religiously affiliated and still teach their students to question their faith in significant ways. You will run into some close-minded practices that you might not at other schools...for instance, on campus they have parietals which are strictly enforced. (ie. men have to be out of the women's dorms at a certain time at night, and vice versa). I think there's also some kind of contract they make undergrads sign saying they wont have premarital sex and engage in other "morally questionable" behaviors. But, as a graduate student, I'm not sure how much all of this would affect you especially if you live off-campus.

South Bend itself is for the most part rather close-minded and Republican, but students on the Notre Dame campus are a mix of some strict religious types and a lot of liberal students who actively fight for Notre Dame as a whole to "update" its thinking. The biggest campaign I remember while was there was this whole thing where students were passing out T-shirts that said "Gay? Fine by me." Practically 3/4 of the campus was wearing them and it "shocked" the other 1/4 who reacted to it, and the school newspaper was dominated by stories and columns about it for months. I found, too, that the school administration will latch onto something small and turn it into something HUGE... for instance there was a group of students at my school who wanted to perform the Vagina Monologues and the school said it wasn't in keeping with their campus image or goals or whatever, and students were forbidden from performing it. However, an underground production STILL went on, drew a crowd of something like 500-600 students, and created a HUGE problem with administration. I tend to think a lot of these kinds of conflicts over "moral" things stem not from the Catholicism on campus but from the fact that many older, more traditionally-minded alumnae donate huge sums of money to the schools and threaten to stop providing funding if the schools don't uphold certain "moral" standards...they don't want their money supporting things they don't agree with. Or, this is what we were told somehow, anyways.

This being said, my brother, while Republican, is a self-declared atheist...and he absolutely LOVES Notre Dame. Granted, he doesn't engage in any kinds of actively atheist behaviors aside from going on huge rants about evolution from time to time, but I wouldn't worry. :) I think you might get a good laugh now and then about all of the fuss made over really ridiculously insignificant and unshocking issues, but I doubt you'd ever feel singled out or not a part of the community for religious or political reasons.

Also, having gone to school at their sister school vs. going to a large public state school now...I definitely miss it there.

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I will most likely be attending ND in the fall for phd. I'm looking at some different housing and finding very diverse prices. It appears that some of the surrounding realestate is dirt cheap (10k to buy a house...rent being $200/mo) and small pockets of blocks where according to the 2000 census, the average income is higher...six figures. The graduate housing appears to have townhouses and appartments the size of shoe boxes for around $500 a month per person and in some cases living with 3 room mates who are randomly chosen by the university. Just 5 blocks north of campus I found a castle like appartment complex that has a single bedroom 750 square foot place for $500 and 2 bedroom with loft 1300 sqft for $750-$1000. This one comes with swimming pool bball courts etc.

It appears like south bend is divided up into distinct areas that may have different crime rates. Does anyone know about which areas graduate students typically live in? Where are the areas that someone might want to avoid (i did undergrad in Detroit so i'm not exactly timid, but cautious none the less)? Is it necessary to be so close to campus as to walk...because parking is either costly or a hassle? When taxes are out and all expenses paid, i have $600 a month for housing...any suggestions? (keep in mind that I enjoy being social when i'm not busy studying/working)

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I can't speak a ton about housing because I just lived in the dorms. But, you're definitely right that you can find cheap housing and expensive housing; it really depends where you look, how close you are to campus, etc. There are a lot of complexes around that are about the same quality and price. Most places are about 500-600 for a 1-bedroom. Castle Point isn't too bad and is really close to campus; my cousin lived there for awhile and liked it, although all of the kitchen appliances were a lovely avocado green. That complex is primarily a student complex; you'd probably find a lot of social stuff going on there but it might be a little noisy as well. (It's in a great location though, near to stores/restaurants and campus.) You might check out Park Jefferson as well; it's in a sort of nice quiet area, but a bit further from campus. I have a friend who lives there now and he likes it quite a bit.

I would stay away from the south and west sides of downtown South Bend. If you go far enough to the south of South Bend (maybe 15 mins/6-7 miles south down by Ireland Rd.) there are some complexes there that might be okay (Irish Hills is very cheap and not too bad, but not many students live there; a lot of youngish locals do)--but the immediate south side of downtown is pretty sketchy. I would avoid the area between downtown South Bend and Ireland Rd., as well as areas immediately west of downtown.

I've heard negative things about ND grad housing--but I can't speak directly to that myself. I knew someone who lived in Fisher (?) and I visited there once. My impression was basically that it was rather small and dark, and he lived with a random law student, but I don't remember a whole lot about it beyond that.

If you are looking at houses and/or have a specific street address/intersection where you want to live, I could check a map for you (or heck--call my parents who live there and see what they have to say) to see if it's a good/bad neighborhood.

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Grad girl, thanks a lot...i was the last "guest". I really appreciate your help. I don't know what your plans in the future are but i wish you the best of luck!

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hello! i just got accepted to notre dame!!!!! we have a dog, and the 2 apt places you mentioned say no dogs! how rude. anyway, i would love to live near campus, and my dept is on the north side of campus, so near there would be great. i talked to riverside north, have you heard of that? if so is it near campus? they allow dogs.

do many students bike/walk to work/school? is there good public transportation? I do have a car but i'm not sure about parking, it seems crazy! when i visit, do i need a parking pass?

thanks so much!

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well, i'm visiting south bend this weekend to apartment hunt so i'll post here how it goes!! :o

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hello! i just got accepted to notre dame!!!!! we have a dog, and the 2 apt places you mentioned say no dogs! how rude. anyway, i would love to live near campus, and my dept is on the north side of campus, so near there would be great. i talked to riverside north, have you heard of that? if so is it near campus? they allow dogs.

do many students bike/walk to work/school? is there good public transportation? I do have a car but i'm not sure about parking, it seems crazy! when i visit, do i need a parking pass?

thanks so much!

Oops... sorry for my delay.. I've been really wrapped up in work so I haven't been checking the forum as much as before...

Unfortunately I'm not going to be a lot of help on your specific questions. I haven't heard of Riverside North. The city isn't super biking/walking friendly; in some areas there are no sidewalks, and if you want to go from, say, Notre Dame campus to the shopping area on Grape Road, there are no sidewalks on or near Grape Road. I can't speak much for public transportation; my mom has always been very fearful of it so I tended to avoid it. I know in some areas of town the system is rather unsafe, but the bus that runs from ND's campus to downtown or ND's campus to other places may be better than other areas. ND/Saint Mary's/Holy Cross also has a shuttle between campuses and around the parts of ND's campus which can be nice if you need to get from one side of campus to the other, although it only makes a few stops (grad housing, Library, Debartolo, and possibly Bookstore I think.) A lot of students bike around campus; my brother uses his bike there constantly to get from his dorm to class, the library, and his gf's dorm. It's off-campus where things are much more car-friendly.

I'm not sure about parking but I believe there's a visitor's lot over by the stadium (south of the stadium) in which you can park without a permit. Also, there's a smallish visitor's lot on the east side of Juniper, across from the Library and beyond the faculty/reserved lot. However, they may have closed Juniper or made other construction-related changes since I was there last.

Hope this helps... sorry I can't offer more knowledge about your specific concerns!

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thanks, gradgirl. oh, i hate when there aren't sidewalks! but i'm used to that here.

you might know this since your brother goes there: how much is the campus parking permit for a year? and is it hard to find a good spot?

i can't wait to visit this weekend...i hope i like the place...

thanks!

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thanks, gradgirl. oh, i hate when there aren't sidewalks! but i'm used to that here.

you might know this since your brother goes there: how much is the campus parking permit for a year? and is it hard to find a good spot?

i can't wait to visit this weekend...i hope i like the place...

thanks!

---

A parking pass costs $95 for the academic year.

Parking at Notre Dame is a crap shoot. Unlike other universities and colleges, you cannot actually park on the campus at all. You are only allowed to park on one of three lots that are located on the perimeter of the campus.

Two of these lots (D2 and D6) are usually filled up since that's were most undergrads park. The third lot, C1, is where commuting students usually end up parking.

Parking at Notre Dame is like parking at a mall. You have no side-streets or neighborhoods. It's just one parking lot, and the better spots are gotten the earlier your arrive on campus.

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I'm considering applying to ND next year, but kind of fretting about the whole Catholic school aspect of it.

Can someone please tell me from personal experience - how are gay/lesbians treated?

is there a gay student association?

any gay \ lesbian bars?

would a young lesbian feel comfortable there at all?

Thanks.

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I'm not a Notre Dame student, so my apologies in advance if this information is completely useless to you, but...

South Bend itself is very conservative. It's got a very midwestern farm town vibe to it, IMO. I live in Detroit, used to live in Chicago and go back to Chicago a lot, so I tend to go through that area about once every couple of months. FWIW, I'm not a lesbian, but I feel uncomfortable whenever we stop around there, just because of having a few visible tattoos and a more artsy/intellectual look. South Bend is just very homogeneous.

As far as the Catholic element of the school itself, that might not be as much of a problem. I go to a Jesuit school in Detroit, and I know that my school has a lot of resources. A lot of Catholic universities advocate community involvement (and in some cases, community activism) which tends to encourage more of an atmosphere of diversity and tolerance IMO.

You'd be about ninety minutes from Chicago, which has a thriving gay and lesbian community, so if there weren't ample resources in South Bend, you'd at least have easy access to Chicago. The Metra also goes between South Bend and Chicago, although it stops running somewhat early. If you're interested, you can check out the route here:

http://www.nictd.com/service/dailywestbound.htm

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I'm not a Notre Dame student, so my apologies in advance if this information is completely useless to you, but...

South Bend itself is very conservative. It's got a very midwestern farm town vibe to it, IMO. I live in Detroit, used to live in Chicago and go back to Chicago a lot, so I tend to go through that area about once every couple of months. FWIW, I'm not a lesbian, but I feel uncomfortable whenever we stop around there, just because of having a few visible tattoos and a more artsy/intellectual look. South Bend is just very homogeneous.

As far as the Catholic element of the school itself, that might not be as much of a problem. I go to a Jesuit school in Detroit, and I know that my school has a lot of resources. A lot of Catholic universities advocate community involvement (and in some cases, community activism) which tends to encourage more of an atmosphere of diversity and tolerance IMO.

You'd be about ninety minutes from Chicago, which has a thriving gay and lesbian community, so if there weren't ample resources in South Bend, you'd at least have easy access to Chicago. The Metra also goes between South Bend and Chicago, although it stops running somewhat early. If you're interested, you can check out the route here:

http://www.nictd.com/service/dailywestbound.htm

Thank you!

I don't drive, so I'll be completely relying on public transport here for a bit of culture \ civilization.

I mean, I don't expect to find a lesbian bar in South Bend, but then again, I don't want to get spit at (or get dirty looks) because I wear a pride t-shirt, you know? I'm hoping the atmosphere in ND is slightly less concervative than in town.

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If you have the chance, and haven't done so already, it might be worth it to visit the town/campus to sort of get a feel for what it's like. Indiana gets a little "God and Country" for my tastes, although it does have some decent pockets here and there. Also, since you don't drive, here's a link for the South Bend bus system:

http://www.sbtranspo.com/

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Can anyone recommend good restaurants and other fun things to do in South Bend? For example, local coffeehouses, brewpubs, and places to listen to live music (if there are any). Is there a decent Asian grocery in town? (I love cooking Chinese and Thai food, but unfortunately the really good ingredients are rarely found in mainstream grocery stores.)

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Can anyone recommend good restaurants and other fun things to do in South Bend? For example, local coffeehouses, brewpubs, and places to listen to live music (if there are any). Is there a decent Asian grocery in town? (I love cooking Chinese and Thai food, but unfortunately the really good ingredients are rarely found in mainstream grocery stores.)

Brewery: The Mishawaka Brewery (app. 3 miles from campus) has great beer and OK food.

Pub: Legends (on campus, South of the football field... you WILL find your way there at some point) is a great pub for grad students, student/faculty parties, and has weekly live bands/occasional comedians.

Bar/Restaurant: Between the Buns, a sports bar on RT 23 about half a mile east of campus, has cable tv at every table, good burgers, a great drink menu, and lots of fun people. They have karaoke every Thursday and have lots of other activities on other nights.

There is an asian market about half a mile east of campus on RT 23. I never went there myself, but am told it was pretty good. For more conventional produce, the Martin's grocery stores are really good.

Coffeehouses: On campus coffee is all Starbucks, with an actual Starbucks in LaFortune (the student building). Off campus there are several Starbucks', some open 24 hrs a day. There's a Panera in the commercial part of Mishawaka (3 miles east of campus) and a smaller bakery with some coffee products on Edison Rd. 2 miles east of campus. That's really it for coffee that I found though.

Just about any type of store/restaurant you could want can be found on N. Main St. or Grape Rd. in Mishawaka (2-3 miles east of campus). There is a small, OK mall on Grape Rd.

My favorite place ever was a family owned bread shop in a shopping center on Grape Rd. called "Great Harvest" near a TJ Maxx and Circuit City.

I don't go to ND anymore (left with an MA), but my info is less than a year old.

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Hey everyone

I recently graduated from Notre Dame, 4yrs living in the Bend was a great experience, even despite the awful winters. I would be happy to answer anyone's questions, so feel free to reply or PM me.

Some quick answers to questions I have seen so far.

"Places for grad students to live. Can anyone recommend good restaurants and other fun things to do in South Bend? For example, local coffeehouses, brewpubs, and places to listen to live music (if there are any). Is there a decent Asian grocery in town? (I love cooking Chinese and Thai food, but unfortunately the really good ingredients are rarely found in mainstream grocery stores.)"

Fisher Grad north east of campus is a nice area for people who want to stay close to campus, especially close to the library. A plus for the south bend winters. Other nice apartment complexes include Main Street Apartments (on Main Street) where you will find several restaurants and stores, in the popular area of Mishawaka, a few miles from campus and Castle Point Apartments in South Bend.

Grape Rd, Douglas, and Main Street are where you will find most of the restaurants. There is an Asian market and great Thai restaurant (Siam Thai) right next to each other in Downtown South Bend on Main Street. Lulu's Cafe is a nice little coffehouse / bohemian lounge on Edison. Several great pubs include Corby's, Fiddler's Hearth and The Oyster Bar all in downtown SB. Fiddler's has live music every week, especially local Irish bands. A popular club, Club Fever has several music acts as well.

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UndraftedFreeAgent and thundersaber1985 - thanks for the tips! :) I'm going for a visit at the end of the month and am looking forward to exploring South Bend. Hopefully the snow will have melted by then, although I'm not holding my breath.

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Hey Everyone:

There's a good enough chance that I may end up at ND that I've begun to look into living arrangements. I would appreciate anyone who has either lived in ND or has personal knowledge of the area chiming in on my questions.

Some general things I've been told (feel free to confirm or dispel):

1) Graduate Student housing is not so hot.

2) The school bill's the area as being very low rent (400s), however the decent places are outside of South Bend and run 700s.

3) Purchasing a decent house in a safe area for under 125,000 is actually viable and people do it.

What I am looking for: I really want to find either a historic loft, old apartment building, or house with tons of old world charm. A lot of what I've seen on craigslist just looks depressing and architecturally ugly. I don't want the typical yuppie nice and new condo or apartment community where every place looks just like the next. In fact, I'd rather sacrifice some niceness for charm.. (e.g. hardwoods, historic, loft, etc etc)... Can anyone tell me if this type of living arrangement exists. Any insider knowledge? How to go about looking? Craigslist hasn't been that helpful as it only has a few listings. Also, other towns nearby to search for this type of arrangement outside of Mishawaka or South Bend?

Thanks

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