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Urbana-Champaign, IL

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Guest SHELLY

I can't be really helpful, but I visited Urbana-Champaign for one day last summer. we looked at apartment guides, and housing seemed to be reasonably priced (around $450 for 1 bedroom apartments). there was a nice street with tons of restaurants and cafes (i can't think of the name of it now) that was pretty charming and near campus. also a cute, tiny downtown area. sorry i can't remember much more.

good luck!

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I need to hop around between these 2 schools for visits and was wondering what the fastest way wopuld be. Here are my questions:

- How long does it take to get to NWU campus from the Chicago airport (ORD) by taxi?

- How long does it take to get to UIUC campus from Willard airport by taxi?

- How do I get from Amtrak stations to those schools and how long should it take?

- What about greyhound and LEX Lincolnland Express?

Thank you so much :)

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Guest GoIllini

I went to UIUC for undergrad...

UIUC campus from Willard = less than 10 mins

Amtrak from UIUC campus = less than 2 miles from center of campus, can take a bus down University Ave, less than 5 min bus ride or call a cab and it will take about 2 mins.

Greyhound & LEX - what's your question here? What about them? LEX is more expensive than the train, but if $ is no object, it drops you off at the Illini Union at the center of campus.

Is anyone meeting with you @ UIUC or are you just visiting on your own?

Apartments in C-U

If you live very close to/on campus, rents are higher (unsurprising). You'll be surrounded by undergrads, which tends to mean a lot of noise, lots of parties, kinda run-down apartments. But you'll be within easy walking distance of every class. It's possible to live off-campus, though I wouldn't suggest living TOO far away. You can bike most places, and public transport is pretty good for a place of its size.

The apartments north of Green Street tend to be cheaper - its a less desirable/reputed to be less safe/less happening part of campus

The apartments in Champaign tend to be rowdier.

The apartments in Urbana tend to draw a quieter, older crowd.

There is free bus service for UIUC students all over campus, so it doesn't matter that much where you live.

People sign for their apartments REALLY EARLY. Like, people start signing/resigning their leases in October/November of the preceding year (most leases go from Aug 15-Aug 15). So, already a lot of the "choicest" apartments will be spoken for. But that doesn't mean that everything's gone. You may want to start looking soon, though, 'cause everything's on the market already.

UIUC Campus

Campustown - roughly Green Street up to Gregory, Wright street to 1st Street - is alright, nothing more, nothing less. It gets pretty rowdy on the weekends. Bar entry age is only 19 and many places have $1 drink specials so.... you can imagine what that turns into. There are a couple of alright restaurants, but nothing particularly great. If you're "over" the whole undergrad scene, downtown Champaign is really nice. You have to be 21 to enter bars there, they tend to be classier, better food, nicer atmosphere, etc.

The People

I'm biased, but I think the people there are incredibly nice. It just has a laid-back feel that you don't really find on urban campuses. People drive slower, seem less competitive with eachother... The undergrad pop. definitely skews right (politically) but most of the faculty (perhaps not so much the B-school faculty) are lefties.

Let me know if you have any other questions - I'm happy to try to answer them!

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Guest Guest

Thanks for the informative reply, GoIllini. I especially liked hearing about the people! I have a few more questions, if you have the time. What is the crime rate/safety like on campus and off? What are the grad dorms like (Daniels and Sherman)? Which meal plan would you recommend? Do you think 15K will be enough to live on, or is the cost of living pretty high? Thanks!

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Guest GoIllini

It shouldn't be too hard to get by in C-U on $15k/yr. When I was living there, in a HUGE 1bdrm apartment, I paid about $700/mo. for living expenses, incl rent, phone, electric, most food, etc. The grad dorms are really really conveniently located - 2 block from the Quad, 2 blocks from the library, close to the Campustown social scene. I imagine most people go there their first year, meet a lot of people, and move to off-campus housing the next. I wouldn't invest too heavily in the meal plan if I were you - I always found the times that meals were offered were inconvenient to my schedule & the food was mediocre.

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Bumping this thread.

Anyone else heading to Champaign in the fall? My wife and I are visiting the week after next and are going to try to figure out where we should live. Heard campustown is infested with undergrads, although the proximity to campus is appealing...

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I'm currently finishing my undergrad at Urbana-Champaign.

Its a great campus, with lots to do and places to study/play. Campus town is indeed generally quite infested with undergrads, but there are many grad students who live very close to campus as well. As long as you stay on the Urbana side most places are very quiet and nice. Farther from campus you can get even nice places at much cheaper prices... but outside of walking distance (bad for winter). The bus system is very good, however (particularly for a small town). Downtown champaign is booming, for a town of its size, and is great to hang out away from most undergrads (who tend to stay on campus bars etc.).

Hope that helps!

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Siam Terrace, a Thai place in downtown Urbana, is the best deal in town. If you want to have a drink, be sure to check out the Blind Pig in Downtown Champaign - it has an excellent selection of beers from around the world. They rotate their taps to new beers often, and the pub atmosphere is great.

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So I got back from my trip to UIUC a couple of days ago and I wanted to share some thoughts. One, the 400 miles of cornfields in every direction was staggering. Second, the fact that there is this little city stuck out in the middle of those cornfields is pretty crazy. I was actually surprised how urban the campus feels, esp. when compared to the schools in the south. I did go at a really crappy time of year, everything was still dead from the winter, but the pictures I saw of the campus in spring and fall looked beautiful. Also, as someone from the SEC, the quaintness of memorial stadium was amusing, in fact I drove right past it the first night I was there and never noticed. Kind of hard to do that with Bryant-Denny and its 95k seats.

The faculty was extremely happy to have me there. They were energetic, engaging, and very impressive. I will seriously consider going there.

Oh, and the food. The food was AMAZING. There is a greek restaurant called Papa George's that has the best lamb I have ever had, didn't even know that it could taste like that. And an even better place called Alexander's, where you cook your own steak in the middle of the restaurant, was KILLER. The most tender beef I have ever had. I could eat there every day. Everyone told me that the beef in the midwest was the best in the world, I sure believe it now.

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A relative of mine who currently lives in Champaign described it to me this way: "It's a very diverse city, with many ethnic groups and great restaurants. Very cool. But if you drive five miles in any direction...it's very much redneck country." LOL

I visited a couple of years ago; I was in Chicago on business and took a couple of days to visit said relative. I think it only took me 2 hrs driving from Chicago. You can also hop on a puddle-jumper directly to Champaign if you are flying into Chicago from elsewhere. Personally, I loved it there: everything is close together (relative bikes everywhere), but there seems to be a lot crammed into the city limits. It was a town with a lot of personality--most places I visit lately seem to be clones of everywhere else. Of course, I don't like big cities (the reason I didn't apply to Columbia or UCLA--even UW was a stretch for me), so if you do, take my advice with a grain of salt.

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Can I live here for 12k? By myself?

Yes. I'm from Illinois, with a lot of friends at UIUC, and a few unforgettable forgotten nights spent there. You can find studios and one-bedrooms for 300-600 a month. I have friends with roommates in apts or shared houses paying as little as 250. Everything else--food, booze--is cheap.

It's a great town.

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Thanks!

Do you know any good, quiet places or neighborhoods for grads? I've been looking online, but I'm not sure which areas would be safe. Also, do I need a car to get around? How's parking around the area?

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If I were moving there, I would pick a spot west of the north-south train tracks and east of Mattis; south of I-74 and north of Kirby. But that's just me. This area is all in Champaign. I hear there are parts of Urbana that are pretty good, but I didn't get over to that part of town.

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Most of my friends have graduated, but a few who stuck around as alums (who work for the University) are happy living in Urbana. A little further from campus, but a little further from raging undergrads as well. As far as I know they don't have cars, and bike to campus.

I don't know the neighborhoods very well, so you might want to defer to someone else.

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Someone asked about parking...

Parking can be a nightmare. Everything is metered, but that is assuming that you can find an open one. The best way to get around is walk or bike, as there are sidewalks everywhere and bike paths all over campus. Public transit is good too. If you must drive, it costs something like $800+ a year for a reserved spot in a campus parking lot, which may or may not be close to your classes.

As for where to live, someone mentioned they would live between Kirby and I-74, but this is not a good idea. Anything north of University Ave. and you start getting into the rough parts of town (which are admittedly small, but rough nonetheless). Urbana is nice, but I am not too familiar with it. If I stay here for grad school, I will look in Urbana first I think.

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I live in Urbana right now (I just finished my Master's degree at UIUC) and for grad students and families Urbana is a better place to be than Champaign in my opinion. They have better protections for renters - your landlord can't just come into your apartment without 24 hours written notice, for example - and it's a lot quieter than Champaign. Urbana has recycling pickup; Champaign does not, and we have a great farmer's market in Urbana. I pay less than 500 a month and I live in a three-bedroom house with a large backyard in Historic East Urbana with my partner. It is a little far from campus but it is totally bikeable and it's a really pleasant ride, down tree-lined streets without a lot of traffic. Urbana is really bike-friendly. I've had a harder time navigating my bike around in Champaign because it's more urban than Urbana; it has more traffic and people and fewer bike lanes.

The public transportation in Urbana-Champaign is award-winning and phenomenal; they have GPS on all the buses so that you can tell exactly when the bus is going to be at your stop, which is especially handy in the winter. The bus system is pretty far-reaching and two and a half miles away from campus (it's a small town so 2.5 miles is pretty far from campus) I have a bus that goes to the heart of campus that stops a half a block away. As a student, you ride for free with your student ID. The maps on their website aren't the best but if you want a house/apartment a bit further away from campus that is still on a bus route their website is http://www.cumtd.com/.

For housing, take a look at the Tenant Union at http://www.tenantunion.uiuc.edu/. I met with someone in the office when I visited to see if I wanted to come here and she gave my partner and I some really good advice about where we might want to live and why: http://www.tenantunion.uiuc.edu/hb2.html. They also have landlord complaint records so that you can see if the company or person you're thinking of renting from has caused problems with tenants in the past (http://www.tenantunion.uiuc.edu/complai ... ea_lan.htm). This is a really helpful service when you're farther along in the housing process. Their website is sort of 1992 but they're an awesome service for incoming and current students.

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...Downtown champaign is booming, for a town of its size...

:shock: No way, man. Downtown Champaign is totally dead for a town of this size!, or at least that's my humble opinion. I did part of my undergrad in Burlington, VT--a place that is only technically the size of Urbana, but whose metro area pop is pretty much the same as C-U's metro area pop. Honestly, if I had to judge the size of C-U based on just the vibrancy of downtown, I'd say it was half the size of Burlington. (I lived in C-U for a year after undergrad.)

Now, I don't know if that means that Burlington is totally rockin' (probably), or that C-U is dead (will give the benefit of the doubt), but I hardly think "booming" is an accurate description. I'm willing to compromise at "existent". :)

Also, IMHO, people litter a disgraceful amount in this town. In turn, I've been told by an international buddy of mine that when he was going to school in Pennsylvania, he heard that us northeasterners were "rabidly anti-litter, very self-policing and all". So maybe I'm just guilty as charged.

Anyway, hopefully these thoughts are of use for someone. I wish I had something nice to say about the town to round off this note of negativity...OH, well, the rent is really cheap. I had a sweet 2-br place w/ a balcony for 700/month; over westward in Champaign proper, in a really quiet neighborhood. A place of similar quality in Burlington would've cost at the very least 1200/month for sure. (I guess, you get what you pay for.) Grocery prices tend to be ever-so-slightly lower out here, too--or so I've found. Also, if you hate winter--they have pretty pansy winters out here, so that might be a good selling point depending on your preferences.

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