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Madison, WI

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Some questions for people who are living in Madison now:

1) Is UW-Madison's stipend something you can live on comfortably given the cost of living in the area? (I hear your health insurance is outstanding and you get dental?)

2) Will I be able to find a studio for less than $800/month? I know roommates are cheaper, but I tend to be a night owl and, being a little older, I'm used to having my own space.

3) I personally didn't apply to programs in NYC because I don't want to be distracted by the endless possibilities and the proximity of my extended group of friends. I'm imagining Madison is one of those charming college cities with plenty of cute bistros and pubs, but not a whole lot of distracting nightlife. I'd rather not be tempted, to be honest... Will I be able to focus on school without withering away socially and culturally?

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What consitutes a minor sex offense? Oh, I am so not an expert here.

But yes, minor or major, I find it shocking anyway sad.gif

I don't know if it's true or not, but I've heard of things like public urination / indecent exposure getting people put on the sex offender's registry, even if the intent was (supposedly) not exposure e.g. a jogger ducking behind tree in a park to relieve himself.

I think it depends on how many people witness the event and whether children are present.

Apologies for the unpleasant conversation regarding a (sort of) old question, I just think it's an interesting case!

Edited by Pitangus

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Hey Madisonians,

Looks like this has been a topic of discussion already--but under the heading of non-auto transportation--it seems like Madison is very bikeable and pretty walkable, but how extensive and convenient is the bus system? I'm (likely) moving there over the summer but my partner and I share a car and prefer not to drive it if we have other options. I'm particularly interested in the bus system because I'm terrified of riding my bike in the bitter, bitter cold. Ah!

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Hey Madisonians,

Looks like this has been a topic of discussion already--but under the heading of non-auto transportation--it seems like Madison is very bikeable and pretty walkable, but how extensive and convenient is the bus system? I'm (likely) moving there over the summer but my partner and I share a car and prefer not to drive it if we have other options. I'm particularly interested in the bus system because I'm terrified of riding my bike in the bitter, bitter cold. Ah!

I'm not going to UW for grad school, but that's where I did my undergrad. The bus system is very reliable and a great way to get around. There's really no need for a car in Madison--it's a bigger pain than it's worth. My significant other paid $110 a month for parking at our apartment to have his car around, especially when you get a free bus pass; it was pointless. Bikes are also another great way to get around too. There's a few crazy folk that bike in the winter, but it is one of the most bike-friendly towns in the country too.

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My partner and I are moving to Madison this summer (me= phd student, she= physical therapist) and I'm finding the apartment hunt to be an absolute pain. I have friends there who suggest steering clear of the west side of downtown, since that's where the undergrads live. I tried to find a nice place on the so-called "near east" side of downtown but everything that isn't more than $1600/month looks quite outdated.

I'm not all that concerned about living in the hottest spot downtown but I don't want to miss out on the parks, farmers market, nightlife, etc.

Should we suck it up and over-pay to live downtown for the first year? Or get more bang for our buck 15 minutes away from campus? Any input would be appreciated!

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Some questions for people who are living in Madison now:

1) Is UW-Madison's stipend something you can live on comfortably given the cost of living in the area? (I hear your health insurance is outstanding and you get dental?)

2) Will I be able to find a studio for less than $800/month? I know roommates are cheaper, but I tend to be a night owl and, being a little older, I'm used to having my own space.

3) I personally didn't apply to programs in NYC because I don't want to be distracted by the endless possibilities and the proximity of my extended group of friends. I'm imagining Madison is one of those charming college cities with plenty of cute bistros and pubs, but not a whole lot of distracting nightlife. I'd rather not be tempted, to be honest... Will I be able to focus on school without withering away socially and culturally?

I second this! Anyone have any insight? I'm deciding between here and GSK in NYC. Madison seems like a great place to study, but is it a city that you can outgrow? Also, rent seems pretty pricey for a 24k/yr stipend =(, or does that go a little farther in Madison than I think?

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Hi Mrpbn7, BreeAnn, and Isobel_a,

I did my undergrad at UW and now work on campus. Madison is a fantastic city and I absolutely love it here. Madison has a "college town" feel to it but you can always find something going on.

Isobel_1: I can't answer your first question, but as for the other two:

2) Definitely. Depending on how much you're willing to pay you can probably find a studio as cheap as $450 or so; most run about $500-700 depending on where you want to live.

3) My sense is that UW is known just as much for their academic reputation as they are for their "party school" reputation.... The campus area can get pretty loud on weekends.

As far as housing goes: there's a lot of undergrad-ish housing right on the campus area; I'd avoid anything around Regent street, Camp Randall, or Langdon. Personally, I'd recommend the East side (James Madison/Tenny Park area, Willy Street) or the West side/Hilldale area for housing that isn't overrun by undergrads. I live on the Willy st area right now and it's within walking distance to the fun capitol bars/restaurants, but far enough away from campus that I feel like I'm separating work and home. The city is really bike/walking friendly and the metro bus system is pretty reliable (unless it's snowing), so living further off campus isn't too much of a problem.

There's also a lot of housing further off campus, if you're willing to commute- I've had a few friends who lived on the far-west side, Fitchburg, and Middleton. I'm sure this would be pretty hard without a car, but depending on finances it may be worth it in the long run.

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Thanks for the advice @yellowsubmarine!

I'm leaning toward one of the nice complexes on the west side of town. Ultimately, I'd like to end up in a part of downtown dominated primarily by young professionals/grad students- but looking for upgraded apartments is proving very difficult.

I hope I didn't miss out on anything by living a bit off campus. I still want to experience the city.

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Some questions for people who are living in Madison now:

1) Is UW-Madison's stipend something you can live on comfortably given the cost of living in the area? (I hear your health insurance is outstanding and you get dental?)

2) Will I be able to find a studio for less than $800/month? I know roommates are cheaper, but I tend to be a night owl and, being a little older, I'm used to having my own space.

3) I personally didn't apply to programs in NYC because I don't want to be distracted by the endless possibilities and the proximity of my extended group of friends. I'm imagining Madison is one of those charming college cities with plenty of cute bistros and pubs, but not a whole lot of distracting nightlife. I'd rather not be tempted, to be honest... Will I be able to focus on school without withering away socially and culturally?

1. Yes, you can live comfortably on the UW stipend. You won't be saving much, but you can live comfortably. You also get great insurance.

2. You should be able to find a 1bd for $500-600/month, no problem. You'll pay a little more closer to campus and a little less 2-3 miles away. The benefits of living a little further away is that you get away from the undergrad neighborhoods. It's also a short bike or bus ride. Madison is very bike AND bus friendly, so transportation is no problem.

3. The social and academic scenes are great -- there is always plenty to do in terms arts, music, culture, etc. The music scene can be a little sparse, but there is a good amount of diversity (ranging from college bands to bluegrass/folk to orchestras). State street has great food/pub options. The campus is located right on a lake and has extended lakeside trails that make commuting a pleasure. The undergrads definately party a lot, but you can easily avoid it (I barely notice it). The academics are great -- you can waste a lot of time attending seminars in various departments. It's usually time well wasted though, because we get top researchers from around the nation (in addition to the top researchers housed locally!). Finally, the UW is a great place to form a PhD committee. The campus is huge, so it's easy to create a super-star committee. Same goes for the grad students -- it's easy to connect with grad students with similar interests from around campus.

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Hi Christa, if you are flexible with your price range (or are ok with having a roomie) McBride Companies, whose apartment building, the beautiful, modern McBride Point on James Madison Park http://mcbridepoint.com/ I have lived in for a year, are consistent, communicate effectively, polite, professional, and respond very quickly to maintenance requests. They have someone clean the entire apartment building common areas twice a week. The only thing about them is that they are very strict about their rules. No posters on the window (which can be difficult in the political climate here in Madison, especially when everyone else has signs!) and no candles in the apartment (lit or not), etc. The other problems with them is that the garage parking is not included-- off-street parking is pricey in Madison, thousands of dollars a year-- and that the materials in the apartment are not as quality as they make them out to be. For instance, sound travels more easily through the walls than the management claims, resulting in conflict between neighbors who each think it's the others fault. The window shade broke really easily, the walls are often not sturdy enough to mount anything, and the kitchen cabinets were designed poorly (tall, narrow, and deep) for an under 5' person such as myself. But if you're looking for a quiet, mature building with great maintenance, respectful landlords and a great little grocery store attached to the building, on a great park and lake, with coffee shops, the capitol, downtown, State Street, and campus at a moment's reach, go with this building.

Also: absolutely under no circumstances should you rent with the Embassy Apartments. Their management company is particularly nasty and genuinely seems like it's out to get the students, and the apartments are not of particular quality, either. My boyfriend lived there and during his year and a half there they seemed to intentionally spy on him and try to find things to charge him for. One time, when something I ordered online accidentally got delivered to their address (his old address,) the company pretended they didn't have the package until we sent the police in there, who confirmed that they did indeed have it but had sent it back to the original sender, despite my e-mail asking them to let me come and get it from them. They cost my boyfriend and I lots of money and my dress for New Year's Eve (the contents of that package.)

Other companies I've rented with have been Mullins (won't bother you, but might show up unannounced to show your apartment, and their kitchens appliances tend to break down easily), and the management company at La Ciel (nice enough apartments, I never had any trouble with them, if you don't mind living in the heart of a busy undergrad area-- but it's very close to campus, and it's a highrise so if you get a higher floor you'll be fine. We were in the penthouse, which had low ceilings but no noise at all.)

Good luck! Let me know if you'd like any input on which neighborhoods to live in (for grad students I generally recommend the East Side or James Madison Park area, Monroe, or near west near UW Hospital if you don't mind a 15 min commute.)

Edited by what lies ahead

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mrpbn7, check out my response to Christa regarding McBride Point! When you do decide to relocate to downtown, McBride Point would probably be the best choice for what you're looking for, and I think has good quality for the money based on the extensive research on modern apartments in Madison (not easy to find) I did for myself. It's on James Madison Park, which is on Lake Mendota, three blocks from the capitol, Capitol Square, and the Farmer's Market, and has great businesses around it like Bradbury's Coffee Shop, Gotham Bagels, and Bartell Theater. You'll be close to the best bars and restaurants in town like Genna's, The Old Fashioned, Brocach, Graze, Nostrano, Harvest, 43 North, L'Etoile, The Tornado Room, Natt Spil, Paradise Lounge, etc.

Edited by what lies ahead

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Thanks for your reply. I looked at the McPride Point website but it seems too expensive for me (+$1000 for a 1bd).

Neighborhoods wise, what are the areas that are either 1) walking distance away from campus or 2) a short bus ride (5-10 mins) and in a vibrant area (good restaurants, good transportation to different parts of town and quiet)?

Also, do you know how good the university apartments (Eagle Heights and Harvey St.) are? They seem to be the cheapest options and I was hoping that since they belong to the school, there won't be any major problems or inconveniences.

Thanks again :)

Edited by Christa

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I've heard good things from people that live in Eagle Heights. It's cheap, on a busline, quiet, family oriented, etc. The downside is that it's a ways from bars, restaurants, etc. Also the Willy (Williamson) St (northeast of campus on the isthmus) and vilas neighborhood (south of campus) are nice. Willy st. is a trendy neighborhood with great bars/restaurants/coffee shops and a lot of grad students live out there.

This link is helpful (it's what I used to find my place): http://housing.civc.wisc.edu/search_guided.asp

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Dornos, thanks for the response. So Eagle Heights and Harvey St. aren't at a walkable distance to the restaurants and bars?

and how much should I expect to pay for a room with housemates in the Willy St. area or the Villas? and as I'm international I'm not very familiar with all the utilities that I should watch out for, so what are they? Also, what's a reasonable estimate for the internet+electricity bill and during the winter, the heating bill?

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Hi Christa! I would say definitely go with Near East (on or off East Johnson Street) or James Madison Park area (same area as McBride but it's really the only expensive building around there)! You can find something affordable there and there are lots of cafes, bars, restaurants, coffeeshops in the immediate vicinity. It's walking distance to campus, on a park and a lake as well as three blocks from the capital (the center of downtown.) You're also only about five blocks away from State Street, the main street in Madison which runs between the university campus and the capitol. Plus, in Near East/East Johnson and in the James Madison Park/Capitol Hill area neighborhood it's quiet enough to study, away from the heart of undergraduate residential areas. Near East is also closer than Willy and, depending on whether your classes are on the East or West side, than Vilas, to campus, yet still residential.

Edited by what lies ahead

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I noticed that a few people have asked for information about Eagle Heights - I just moved into an apartment there this week.

My two-bedroom apartment is about $770 a month, which is a good $100 cheaper than the next cheapest comparable apartment I looked at when I was seeking housing, and all utilities other than electricity are paid. Free internet access, free laundry, and a free parking spot for my car made the deal pretty attractive.

The apartment I have isn't super large - it's probably only about 700 square feet, which is way smaller than most of the other places I looked. However, it's much cleaner and more well-maintained than I was expecting. The laundry and storage in the basement is a tad sketchy, but your mileage might vary.

The community is large, but very secluded. It's situated on a peninsula that extends into Lake Mendota, and is surrounded by a nature preserve with lots of hiking/bike trails/gardens on the east and a quiet (but expensive) residential neighborhood on the west. The closest facility on campus to the apartments is the hospital, about a mile to the south, but the free 80 bus runs around the Eagle Heights complex all day. It's easy to catch a ride and be on central campus in about 15 minutes, but I come from a place where Walgreens was a block away, so this is a little jarring.

My neighbors are really friendly and for the most part quiet, but they are all married with young children and bikes and toys litter the grounds. If you're young and unmarried like I am, it might be weird for you, but if you're looking for a place to raise a family, I get the feeling that this would be ideal. Childcare and preschool are available on-site, and there are lots of playgrounds. A lot of people here are international students, so it's very diverse.

It's definitely not where the action is, but if you're looking for someplace quiet, friendly, and low-hassle, I think it would be appropriate. Just know that there's a waiting list - there is an online application to fill out, and I've heard that they prefer to reserve spots for foreign students. I'm pretty sure the only reason I was actually able to get an apartment there is because I spoke to the manager in person.

Also, the manager told me that the faculty housing division (University Houses) are getting remodeled sometime in the next year, which means that everyone who lives there now will have to move out. A lot of those people will probably attempt to get spots in Eagle Heights, since they're in the same neighborhood. I gather that competition for an apartment here might get pretty fierce.

Edited by englewood

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Hi! Regarding these apartments, how about West side of the capitol, Gilman, Gorham and Johnson? Isn't the near east side some far away? Is it walkable? I am not planning to use a car, so is it walkable distance to Agri?

And are there any cheap and clean vegetarian restaurants in the area? I am not much partying person, so not much bothered about bars and clubs. But I need to find some decent restaurants. Could you please help me out? I have read different different reviews, but I feel its all personal taste. Kinda confused.

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Hi Thilina!

First, I'm going to respond about the vegetarian restaurants.

Madison is a very veg-friendly city. As a liberal, environmentally conscious city with one of the biggest and best Farmer's Markets in the country, Madison is a great place to buy and eat fresh vegetables! Many local restaurants consistently use fresh, local ingredients. And if you eat dairy, you could come to no better place. The dairy in Wisconsin is like none other.

A great, exclusively-vegetarian restaurant I've been to is Green Owl Cafe, http://thegreenowlcafe.com/, which has delicious vegetarian and vegan versions of everything you can eat with meat, from spaghetti and "meatballs" to the their vegan bloody mary. Their menu includes American, Mediterranean, German, Indian, and Mexican-style food, with no meat in sight. It is on Atwood Ave, in the Near East, which is an approx 10 to 15-min bus ride from downtown/campus.

Another exclusively-vegetarian spot to grab a bite is Mother Fool's Coffee House, an artsy cafe also in the Near East on Williamson Street. Probably a 10-min bus ride.

http://www.motherfools.com/. I've never been there myself, but it's a local favorite.

Another great option is Monty's Blue Plate Diner. A local favorite, it is a traditional diner-style restaurant with a wide variety of traditional American and unique dishes that provides a vegetarian and vegan option for almost every item on the menu. It is also on Atwood Ave, near Green Owl. http://www.montysblueplatediner.com/

Here is a list of vegetarian and veg-friendly restaurants and grocery stores in and near downtown:

http://www.vegmadiso...estaurants.html

Of these, Alchemy's, Bunky's, Dobhan, (all on Atwood, and delicious!) and Bandung are Near East.

If you are in the campus/downtown area (campus and downtown are adjacent to one another), there is a plethora of restaurants on State Street and near the capitol, many of which are veg-friendly. Look for East Asian restaurants like Rising Suns (delicious thai restaurant on state), Tibetan food like Himal Chuli, and Ethiopian restaurant Buraka for great vegetarian options. State Street Teahouse Dobra Tea is vegetarian-only. Although ethnic, especially Asian, restaurants are likely to offer many vegetarian options, most Western food restaurants in the area are vegetarian-sensitive and offer plenty of veg options.

Madison also has several delicious Indian restaurants, which are of course great for vegetarians. In the downtown/capital area, Mirch Masala

(haven't eaten there myself) is on the Capitol Square, and the absolutely delicious Maharani (one of my all-time Madison favorites) http://www.maharanimadison.com/ is on W Wash just two blocks from the Capitol Square.

As far as cleanliness goes, you don't have to worry. Madison has an excellent, diverse, and reputable restaurant scene, and the restaurants in the central area are all clean and well-maintained.

Now as far as living west of the Capitol, that is a good location. It's on Lake Monona, which is beautiful. Many students live there, but it is not rowdy like some student areas. Anything near the Capitol is an excellent place to live, since you have access to campus, downtown, Capitol Square, restaurants, shops, and all events and festivals going on downtown.

I'm not sure if I understood you correctly, but I gather you would be at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. You're not going to be able to walk there from Near East or W of the Capitol to there in less than 1/2 an hour, probably. However, it is totally easy to take the bus! Both inter and intra-campus buses come regularly and many different buses go between campus and the more central downtown area, as well as to the Near East.

Here is the bus website: http://www.cityofmadison.com/metro/ (or you can use Google Maps to plan your bus trip). As a student, you'll get a free bus pass which you'll have to renew about every semester.

You'll be able to take the bus from west of the Capitol in about 10 mins, and from the Near East in maybe 20 mins, depending on where in the Near East you live (closer to Campus like on E Johnson, or further away like Willy St or Atwood Ave.)

Also, you should consider a bike, if you enjoy biking. Madison is a great biking city.

I think that if you want a truly walkable distance to the west side of campus, where it seems like you will be, I would look for apartments in the Regent Street/ Camp Randall Stadium area. It is not a bad area for students to live; it is right next to the Monroe St/ Vilas neighborhood area, which is a charming and quiet residental neighborhood with lots of shops and cafes, a nice lake, and a Trader Joe's grocery store.

Let me know if you have any more questions I can answer!

Hope that helps.

Edited by what lies ahead

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The "near East" side of Madison is very affordable as well as being a safe, vibrant neighborhood. I would definitely reccomend looking for apartments in this neighborhood. It's a bit of a hike to walk to the campus from here, but it's on the bus line and if you're into bicycling that would work,as well. It's a very bike-friendly neighborhood with several bike paths and lanes. The restaurant/bar scene here is great-I especially love the ones on Willy Street. As far as reasonable utility prices go, that will really vary depending on the size and age of your apartment. I have a (very) small studio and the average electricity bill (which includes my heat and A/C) is $40 a month. I have paid as much as $50 in the winter, which I think is still really cheap. In older buildings your bill might be higher. As far as the internet goes, Charter is the most popular service provider here and they offer internet starting at $25 a month. If you want "faster" internet you pay more, but honestly I have never had issues with the $25 one being too slow. Hope this info helps. Let me know if you have any more questions!

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Hi, I'm an incoming Sociology PhD student at UW Madison. When is the best time to begin looking for apartments for the academic year? I'm moving the last week of August.

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Hi, I'm an incoming Sociology PhD student at UW Madison. When is the best time to begin looking for apartments for the academic year? I'm moving the last week of August.

Many apartments in the campus area here at UW-Madison have a move-in date on August 15th. It's rather epic and known as Hippie Christmas due to the massive amounts of stuff that is left on the sidewalks for people to pick over. That said, there are also plenty of apartments that don't run on that schedule, but I would start looking around on the Internet now to try and get something organized by the end of this month at the very latest.

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Oh my goodness-you need to start looking NOW. Apartment hunting in downtown Madison is unusual in that most people look for places months ahead of time (sometimes as early as a year ahead of time!) By the time people in most cities start looking for apartments, downtown Madisonians have had their apartments picked out for months. I'm sure there are still some place left, but they're probably pretty well picked over by now. I'm not trying to scare you here-just giving you a really honest answer to your question! If you don't have much luck downtown, try the East or West sides. They run on a more normal timetable.

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Heyy!

Thanks for the reply "what lies ahes" and "butter fingers". It was very complete. :)

Could you also please help me in two other things?

I want to know which is the most reliable and cheapest mobile service provider in Madison. I hear Spring and US Cellular are good, whar are your ideas guys?

And I want a very good guide to winter clothes. I have never been in winter. The lowest that I have been exposed to is say about 14 Celcius. So I don't know what to wear and where to buy? I have read something about north face jackets. Are they for harsh winter?

Can some one please guide me?

Thanks in advance

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Congratulations on coming to UW-Madison! Now for the advice, when I lived in Madison, I just kept my cell phone service from home in Atlanta which is T-Mobile. However, I heard that US Cellular is fine for the locals. For the winter clothes, the North Face is popular with the undergraduates, but I had a North Face jacket. You should go to their website and look at the jackets and boots. REI is good too. Also, I would recommend Columbia outerwear. Also want to tell you that they salt the roads and clear the sidewalks on a regular basis, but if you want to stay warm and not get precipitation on you, get a good waterproof jacket, gloves, scarf and waterproof shoes. They also have shops in Madison where you can get the items you need. I stayed in Madison for two years working on my masters degree, graduated in 2010, and I never got a cold or flu because I dressed warmly.

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