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Guest SHELLY

Bloomington, IN

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I recently finished my MA program in Bloomington. I have nothing but fantastic things to say about it.

Rent is affordable, but can get a little pricey if you live right near campus. (I notice you live in the Bay, rent might seem absurdly cheap compared to there). Undergraduates tend to live directly north and west of campus, so I would stay away from those areas as they are constantly partying. I highly suggest you live south of campus near Bryan Park. It's pretty mellow and a nice 15-20 minute walk to campus and downtown. My buddies and I rented a three bedroom house in that area for $1200, so it didn't take much out of my monthly stipend. Alternatively, another popular area for graduate students is east of campus at Fountain Park and Woodbridge apartment complexes. 

As for the weather, the winters are pretty darn cold. The city tends to be pretty prepared when it comes to making the roads safe to drive in snow. So snow tires would be entirely up to you, though I think you'd be fine with your SUV. I got a long just fine in my little sedan. IU and the city also has a reliable bus system.

All in all, Bloomington is an awesome, special place. I'm from CA as well, and previously lived in Seattle before I made the move to Indiana. Needless to say, I was pretty nervous I would dread living in the middle of nowhere. I was quickly drawn to its Midwestern charm and easy living life style. Let me know if you have other questions!

Edited by stillalivetui
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I think stillalivetui mostly covered it, but I'll just throw in an extra plug for it being a fantastically lovely town! I'll really miss it when I leave to wherever I get accepted in the coming months. Probably quieter than CA, depending on where exactly you are (and definitely over semester breaks--it's definitely a college down, and when that huge percentage of undergrad population departs home....very empty summers around campus and downtown; which is actually nice, though), but all around great--and close enough to Indianapolis (1.5 hours), Louisville (2 hours), and even Chicago (4-ish hours) that it's not too hard to get away from the small town vibe for a weekend if you want.

(Oh, and if you're into film, definitely check out the cinema if you end up here. So cool.)

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Thank you so much for the great information! I'm just worried about the snow and cold weather more than anything! It looks like there is a lot of nature around which is very appealing. I'm looking forward to a slower pace of life away from the bay area which is traffic most of the day/night and overall jam packed.

Are there vegetarian options at grocery stores? Like Morningstar Farms or tofu?

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3 hours ago, PhDinPublicHealthHopeful said:

Thank you so much for the great information! I'm just worried about the snow and cold weather more than anything! It looks like there is a lot of nature around which is very appealing. I'm looking forward to a slower pace of life away from the bay area which is traffic most of the day/night and overall jam packed.

Are there vegetarian options at grocery stores? Like Morningstar Farms or tofu?

Yes--lots of vegetarian options! Bloomingfoods, the local coop grocery, is pretty fantastic across the board, but there's also Kroger, Lucky's, and Sahara Mart which all also have good vegetarian selections. There's also a weekly farmers market in the warmer months, which is good as well, and very soon we're supposed to be getting a Whole Foods. So yes to Morningstar and tofu, and much more besides. Many many good vegetarian/vegan choices for eating out as well (much love for the Owlery and Rainbow bakery).

And, also yes to lots of nature around: there's a nice little community orchard/garden, a lake and state park, and campus itself is pretty well-tended and wooded: we even sometimes get deer hanging out around class buildings :). 

Edited by haltheincandescent

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Excellent! That makes me feel MUCH better about Bloomington being a good fit. I hope I get in and I hope I can go see the campus and surrounding area before making that last acceptance. :) Crossing fingers!!

Thank you all so much for your help!

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I will be potentially starting a grad program at IU in the fall. I know that finding housing and a neighborhood best suited to me will be an ongoing process after I actually move there. But I wanted to go ahead and see if anyone had any general thoughts about which areas seem to be good for young-ish grad students. I'll be 26, so I don't want to be doing shots with undergrads, but I'm not yet settled down with a family. Somewhere in between.

For example, I went to UNC-Chapel Hill for undergrad and lived there for years after. I would tell someone moving there that Carrboro might be ideal, due to the bike-ability, the adult social scene (not as undergraddy), etc.

Does anyone have any opinions about areas of town or 'scenes' I should check out or avoid? Thanks!

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I am a graduate student looking for housing in Bloomington. My stipend is about 18k per year. I was wondering what parts of the city would you recommend me for housing. I love nature and I like sleeping early so I prefer quiet and rustic neighborhoods that are not far from the campus.

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4 hours ago, Syas said:

I am a graduate student looking for housing in Bloomington. My stipend is about 18k per year. I was wondering what parts of the city would you recommend me for housing. I love nature and I like sleeping early so I prefer quiet and rustic neighborhoods that are not far from the campus.

I would recommend checking out the neighborhoods directly south of campus. Since you're a fan of 'quiet', look south of 1st street around the Bryan Park area. There are many nice, affordable houses and apartments there to rent, and you shouldn't have trouble finding places looking for a roommate if you are not intending on living alone. Bryan Park is a relaxed little spot and the area is no more than a 20 min walk or 5 min bike ride to campus. The atmosphere is leafy, residential and quite nice.

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I just received a funding package to IU for roughly 16k a year, and was wondering for any advice on Studio apartments, or small 1 bdr apartments for about $500 per month? I'd like to be walking distance to campus. I don't mind loud noise, but I won't be doing shots with undergrads either. I'm 22, so I don't need to be in a family area either. 

 

Thank you in advance!

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On March 28, 2016 at 8:57 AM, mecsansclope said:

I just received a funding package to IU for roughly 16k a year, and was wondering for any advice on Studio apartments, or small 1 bdr apartments for about $500 per month? I'd like to be walking distance to campus. I don't mind loud noise, but I won't be doing shots with undergrads either. I'm 22, so I don't need to be in a family area either. 

 

Thank you in advance!

I don't think you're going to find a 1 bedroom for $500. It seems at least $600 is more the norm. If you're looking for $500 I think your best bet is to find a 2+ bedroom house or apartment with someone to split the rent.

Does anyone know anything about the town houses on Covenanter (undergrad vs grad students, neighborhood demographics, noise, maintenance/management staff, etc.)? They seem nice but more expensive and further away from campus than Fountain or Meadow Park. But the proximity to College Mall and other stores could be an advantage.

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Just want to drop in and say that pics don't do the IUB campus justice (though they come close). I stopped in Bloomington today/tonight to crash at a friend's place on my drive west for the summer, and received a guided stroll through the western part of campus and shopping/restaurant area close to Sample Gates area. Campus is stunning! The area directly west of campus is so well kept, clean, and just looks like a cute little college area. (though I was surprised by the homeless population in the area....mainly because college kids are the last people I'd try to panhandle money from)

I'm still on the fence about what I want to do after my Masters, but luckily IU is one of the few schools with a PhD in my field and would be my top choice if I go that route....I've already geeked out on all of them. Enjoy IU, wish I had more time to check it out during this trip!

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There are several companies that organize students into groups for apartment or dorm style living in the city and provide furnished rooms. Not many graduate students take advantage of these, however, because as far as I understand they usually house lots of rowdy undergraduates. If you're up for dealing with that though (or can find another graduate student to go in on an apartment with you, perhaps?) it might be something to check out. Many of them are a bit further to campus but run private busses to school. For instance: https://www.americancampus.com/student-apartments/in/bloomington/campus-corner/floor-plans or http://villagemp.com/.

If you're willing to do an unfurnished or partially furnished place (like maybe there's a bed but you have to get the other stuff), you might be able to find places on craigslist or the graduate student professional organization housing board: http://www.indiana.edu/~gpso/resources/housing/. My general recommendation in terms of walkable neighborhoods are the area just south of campus (Elm Heights/Bryan Park) and just west of campus (Prospect Hill/Near West Side). I do know of graduate students who live North of campus, but its by the stadium so it gets kind of noisy. The east side by the mall is fine if you don't mind taking the bus to school and being a bit further from downtown. My first year I found some other graduate students renting a room in a semi-furnished (bed only, pretty much) 3 bedroom house in Bryan Park through craigslist; it was a lot cheaper than living on campus, and I don't think I spent more than $150 on furniture. 

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Hello all! I pretty much know where to look for housing and what to expect of Bloomington. But, I wanted to bump this thread and see if there's anyone out there looking for roommates.

I'm finding that most of the affordable living options involve splitting a house with fellow students. Unfortunately, I don't know anyone in Bloomington at the moment and most folks who rent their homes out expect you to come in as a group, rather than renting out individual rooms at a time. 

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Does anyone have any opinion about the Gateway Apartments? It seems to be a very good-looking option, but I didn't find any reviews about it. Is the location good at least?

Edited by qrt

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On 4/19/2017 at 9:09 AM, qrt said:

Does anyone have any opinion about the Gateway Apartments? It seems to be a very good-looking option, but I didn't find any reviews about it. Is the location good at least?

This complex is practically brand new. I cannot speak to what it is like to live there—I live in a house a few blocks away. Looks like the property is managed by Cedarview Management, who owns one of the fancy downtown apartment complexes on 10th. Honestly, it's on the pricier side for student housing, but it is a decent location. Gateway is close to the bus line, which is a blessing in this town. 

 

On 4/6/2017 at 3:38 PM, Joasia0429 said:

Hello all! I pretty much know where to look for housing and what to expect of Bloomington. But, I wanted to bump this thread and see if there's anyone out there looking for roommates.

I'm finding that most of the affordable living options involve splitting a house with fellow students. Unfortunately, I don't know anyone in Bloomington at the moment and most folks who rent their homes out expect you to come in as a group, rather than renting out individual rooms at a time. 

I'm not sure where you're at with registration, etc. but IU students have a in-house classified systems where some students mine for roommates there, so that might be contributing to the trouble you're having with networking with established student residents. (see https://one.iu.edu/ and look for "Classifieds" module—you likely won't be able to use the service until you receive your student credentials, which may not happen until Orientation this fall). FWIW I had a good experience when I moved here just by using Craigslist. You might get lucky, and I recommend living with someone who is from around here or has lived here a few years, if possible. Even if they aren't students!

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2 hours ago, ibull said:

I'm not sure where you're at with registration, etc. but IU students have a in-house classified systems where some students mine for roommates there, so that might be contributing to the trouble you're having with networking with established student residents. (see https://one.iu.edu/ and look for "Classifieds" module—you likely won't be able to use the service until you receive your student credentials, which may not happen until Orientation this fall). FWIW I had a good experience when I moved here just by using Craigslist. You might get lucky, and I recommend living with someone who is from around here or has lived here a few years, if possible. Even if they aren't students!

 

Thanks, @ibull! I actually ended up signing a lease with a fellow graduate student a couple of weeks ago. (We're sharing a house with another student.) I actually ended up using craigslist and that worked out fine. :) Thanks for the tip about the classifieds forum.... but unfortunately I don't have a sign in yet. Seems like registration for most things has been moving kind of slow! But, I'm all set for my living arrangements, so I can't complain. 

Any other tips about living in Bloomington? I'm moving from the west coast (Seattle area), but I'm originally from Chicago and my family still lives there. 

Either way, thanks for responding to the original call-out! 

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On 5/5/2017 at 11:19 AM, Joasia0429 said:

Thanks, @ibull! I actually ended up signing a lease with a fellow graduate student a couple of weeks ago. (We're sharing a house with another student.) I actually ended up using craigslist and that worked out fine. :) Thanks for the tip about the classifieds forum.... but unfortunately I don't have a sign in yet. Seems like registration for most things has been moving kind of slow! But, I'm all set for my living arrangements, so I can't complain. 

Any other tips about living in Bloomington? I'm moving from the west coast (Seattle area), but I'm originally from Chicago and my family still lives there. 

Either way, thanks for responding to the original call-out! 

If you're a stereotypical west-coaster like I am:

Coffee Joints to Check Out:

  • Soma (on Grant St)
  • Hopscotch
  • Crumble

If co-ops are your thing, I have enjoyed being a member of Bloomingfoods while living here. Membership fee seems steep at first, but you can split it with others and have multiple people on one account. For as much organic and hippy-dippy shit I enjoy eating, I have definitely gotten my money's worth of this place.

There are local ordinance laws that give food trucks a hard time, so be sure to check out Food Truck Fridays if that is your thing. 

I love biking around here and lived comfortably without a car for a year. Now that I have a car, I still bike routinely because parking around the downtown area is terrible (unless we're talking about summer time and/or weekends). 

If you're into punk/alternative performances, be sure to follow what happens at The Void.

Both the Habitat for Humanity Restore and IU Surplus Store were incredibly helpful when I first moved here and needed to find used stuff. Sometimes the finds are absolutely incredible, so if you're into that kind of thing I recommend watching their facebook pages (linked). 

Finally, one of the most cherished treasures in all of town is the IU Cinema. Do not delay your first viewing. The selections are consistently amazing, so don't be afraid to try something new. Once you get your id most movies will be free, but even if you have to pay it's seldom more than $3. Totally worth your time. One of my biggest regrets is waiting until the end of my 2nd year to see a movie there with some new-found friends. 

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On 2/5/2018 at 8:53 PM, SlyManuel said:

Just thought I'd bump this thread.

Is Bloomington livable on the $16,000 TA stipend?

Any advice?

Time for making decisions I guess... help!

DEFINITELY! I went there for my undergrad. I have spent anywhere between 6300-8000 a year on rent. However, look quickly because housing gets snatched up pretty fast there. You don't really need a car. The transportation is pretty good in Bloom.

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Looking to bring this thread back and see how people like living in Bloomington. It seems like campus itself has quite a bit going on, but does the city itself have enough things to do for you? That's my biggest hesitation about IU, as the faculty and program seem like a great fit for me. Some of the grad students I met on my visit seemed to echo my feelings, too.

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On 4/9/2019 at 9:42 AM, FHG said:

Looking to bring this thread back and see how people like living in Bloomington. It seems like campus itself has quite a bit going on, but does the city itself have enough things to do for you? That's my biggest hesitation about IU, as the faculty and program seem like a great fit for me. Some of the grad students I met on my visit seemed to echo my feelings, too.

This is also my biggest fear about IU (that, and the weather--not too thrilled about snow!), given that I've lived near Los Angeles most of my life. I am actually leaving to visit Bloomington tomorrow so I hope to assuage my own fears by checking it out personally, but if you already visited and still feel this way, then I'm also worried I'll feel the same!

I also literally just received an $18k fellowship from them (I was previously only partially funded) so even though other people on this thread have said this is a livable amount, I'm still not sure how much I should be allocating for rent, especially since that is the pre-tax amount. Living in a high COL area means that I can't conceptualize a low COL area at all. Any insight into this would be appreciated!

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I did my undergrad at IU, and I really enjoyed living in Bloomington. Most of what's going on is on/throughout/near the campus, but I don't think you'll be disappointed. One of the things I enjoyed was the easy access to some excellent opera, theater, ballet, and music because of the Jacob's School of Music. The talent there is amazing. There's a lot of outdoorsy things you can do nearby as well (e.g. a state forest, Lake Monroe, etc.). There's always something going on in downtown Bloomington, which makes it nice. Bloomington actually has quite a few interesting restaurants - certainly more than chains, and they're fun to check out. Also some great little coffee shops, etc. Anyway, I wouldn't worry too much about not having something to do. That said, if you find yourself wanting to get out of the Bloomington bubble, Indianapolis is super close and easy to get to. 

As for the snow... No such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing ;) Bloomington in the spring/fall makes up for the winter I think. 

Cost of living is fairly low in Bloomington, certainly compared to LA. You can definitely get a 1BR for well under 1,000/mo., and if you have a few roommates you can get your costs down even more. Utilities and all that, if they're not included in your rent, are usually pretty low as well. 

Good luck and hope you enjoy your campus visit :)

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@DeNovo Thank you for sharing your perspective! I've heard lots of great things from people who've done their undergrad there, and it's reassuring. I'm essentially choosing between there and the city I currently live in, so it's tempting to stick with what I know and like.

@ergative I'm in a pretty similar boat! I live in another midwest city with similar COL, and from my experience (and speaking with current students) the stipend seems perfectly livable. If Bloomington is similar, I would think $1000/mo. would be on the excessive side. Where I live, rent can start as low as $400/person (rarer) and be as high as $1000 (1 br), depending on location/condition/roommates/etc. Echoing DeNovo, I wouldn't worry too much about COL since utilities will also be low and day-to-day spending doesn't run as high either.

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@DeNovo Thank you so much for responding and giving so much information! I'm in Bloomington now, I checked out Yellowwood forest, College Mall and the downtown area yesterday. I was surprised by how scenic the city is. Lots of trees and interesting architecture I saw from driving around. I'm used to the concrete jungle of SoCal so it was refreshing lol. I'm usually a hermit anyway so it does feel like there's enough going on to satisfy me, and as you said, Indianapolis (and other cities) are a short drive away if I really need an escape. The weather right now is too nice, I wish I had visited earlier so I truly know what the bad weather is like, but yeah I guess it does come down to suitable clothing 😅

I also appreciate both you and @FHG for clarifying about the COL. It's really reassuring because the stipend wouldn't get you very far in SoCal. Now I can breathe and not worry too much about letting finances influence my decision. I'm leaning toward accepting it, but I'm going to be one of those people who wait until the 15th to make a final decision because I only just got here. If you end up at IU, let me know!

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