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Santa Cruz, CA


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I did my undergrad at UCSC, and it was some of the best years of my life. Let me tell you, it is quite possibly one of the most beautiful campuses I've ever seen. You can see the Monterrey Bay from th

I was at Santa Cruz beach this year and it was really nice. The beach itself was super cold - enough to make you panic if you got all the way in - but the weather was warm enough in the summer that i

The UCSC campus is up on a hill a little bit away from town, so off-campus housing is going to be pretty much equally far away from all departments on campus. It's about a 3-minute drive from the base

Going to UCSC now and lived in Santa cruz for a couple of years, small town, public transportation is good, can also get around by bike if you are just moving through Santa Cruz, probably faster. If you attend UC Santa Cruz then you can ride the bus with your student ID, its included in your fees. Multiple stops on campus. Population very liberal, lots of vegans, neo-hippies. Can live close to the beach, might want to avoid certain areas. Most people live across from the boardwalk if they do decide to live close to the beach. UC Santa Cruz is a beautiful campus, and huge, very spread out. Housing is about even with the rest of the area. Studios run from about 800 and up from there. Easier if you find a roommate. Try searching on craigslist, you can also look for a roommate there. What are you studying and are you looking at grad or undergrad? I am a chemistry major so can give you more info about that department if you want...

http://www.craigslist.org/cgi-bin/searc ... borhood=42

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Guest Hegemon

Hey, thanks for all your information. I am not the one who posted the initial question but thought I’d join in since I also got in at UCSC. I’m in the Politics department (applied for PhD) and got TA which pays a $15,000 stipend for three quarters. Does this mean that I would be getting something around $1,500 per month (after taxes - or whatever - have been deducted)? Would this be enough for my living expenses? Also, correct me if I’m wrong, I think the health insurance is paid for as part of my tuition fee... I’m an overseas student who lacks any reliable info on these matters and would really appreciate any feedback… Thanks!

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  • 2 years later...

I received an acceptance to UCSC last week and I was wondering what the atmosphere was like in the city, on campus, and the area in general. How easy is it to get to San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland from here? What is the relative cost of living? Any other information about the school or city would be appreciated! Thanks!

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I was was an undergrad at UC Santa Cruz, and just thought I'd throw in my two cents about this little town.

First off, its absolutely beautiful. All over campus there are enormous redwood trees and amazing views of the bay. The campus itself is separated from the rest of the city. There are city buses that make the the loop through campus, so public transportation is pretty damn good. Your student ID will let you on any city bus for free. There are campus shuttle buses that that go around campus and to the base, where a lot of people live. I assume none of you will be living in the dorms, so I'll move on to what I know about grad student housing. The apartments are pretty spacious, and you'll have your own furnished room, but its probably cheaper to live off-campus.

One of things I can highly recommend is the Bike Shuttle. There are two pick-up locations in Santa Cruz, one is by the Longs on Mission street, and the other is closer to the boardwalk. It's free, comes at 15 min intervals during the morning, and 30 min intervals in the afternoon. You'll get a nice bus ride up the hill to campus and will get to ride your bike down. Its gorgeous. Make sure you get a good lock for your bike though, and get locking skewers for your tires. Bike theft is far too common on campus. You're also supposed to register your bike with UCSC, but I never did, though if it does get stolen, it can help with recovery, so they say.

Santa Cruz definitely has that hippie vibe, and you'll see a good number of students who dont wear shoes and are very people and love attitude. With that being said the biggest "event" on campus is that of 420. Hundreds and possibly thousands of students gather in the Porter Meadows on 4/20 and smoke in a sort of community ritual type thing. The police are pretty relaxed on that day, issuing mostly parking citations for all the students coming from off campus.

Another "event," well more like tradition is the First Rain. During the first rain of the school, which means the first time it rains at night after the school year has started, hundreds of students abandon their clothes and run naked around campus. Some words of advice, keep your shoes on, and make sure they have good traction. Ive seen far too many bruised and bloody naked people at Santa Cruz.

I lived off campus for two years. I paid $625 per month for my own room in a house with 5 others near the base of campus. It was a pretty crappy house, and rent was lowered because there was someone living in the garage (very common). The other place I lived was off of Western Drive, 2 bedroom, with 4 people. I shared a room and paid $525. Pretty expensive, but the apartment was much nicer, in a complex, though no pool or anything. Washer/Dryer in unit. I found both these places on craigslist, and thats probably the way most people find places to live.

At the downtown metro center there is a Highway 17 bus, which will take you over the hill to San Jose for $4 each way. Not horrible, as I made that trek frequently. That location is also a Greyhound Station. If you're looking to get to San Francisco or Oakland, its probably fastest and cheapest to take the Highway 17 bus, which drops you at the Caltrain Station, and then take the train to the city (and yes, San Francisco is "the city").

Downtown Santa Cruz is small. Its stretches just a few blocks, and doesnt have many mainstream mall type stores. All that has made the cut is Gap, American Apparel, and Urban Outfitters. There are some good restaurants throughout Santa Cruz, my favorite being Sabieng on Mission. Amazing, and cheap thai food. Burrito place on Mission called La Cabana is excellent.

Santa Cruz is a great little town, with nice people, gorgeous scenery, and some of best food. The weather is nice too! Let me know if you want more specifics about anything, I'd be happy to answer any more questions.

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  • 7 months later...

While the UC Santa Cruz campus is gorgeous, it's really spread out, and almost always quite cold. I would love it for a visit to hike, but as a place where I had to get things done and accomplish tasks, it got frustrating. I went there as an undergraduate, and spent a lot of the day "commuting" (walking between to and from classes). From my on-campus apartment to the area of campus where most of my classes were took about half an hour to walk.

I walked for a total of about 6 miles per day. While this is great for health, the beauty of the campus was lost to me as I tread through hills and forest because of the cold, heavy books, lab supplies, water, and snacks. During these times, I only felt resentment.

Also, funding may be different from graduate students, but when I was there as an undergrad(about two years ago) on-campus rent for a triple (that's 3 people sharing one bedroom) was $800 a month. I think the price for a single was $1200-$1400/month.

Just some things to keep in mind . . .

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  • 2 months later...

I was at Santa Cruz beach this year and it was really nice. The beach itself was super cold - enough to make you panic if you got all the way in - but the weather was warm enough in the summer that it didn't stop me from getting in. There were sea lions though. Like, from antartica. Huge ones. It was that cold. Dozens of them were fighting for positions under the scaffolding of the nearby pier.

The beach area was very crowded though, including lots of immigrants and also some homeless people. In fact, all the places we passed through near the bay in Santa Cruz had a vibe of poverty to them (except for one neat little futuristic diner we ate at).

Even if the campus is in a town with some poorer areas, I can attest that it's very secure; we tried to drive in just to see the buildings (Sunday afternoon) and a guard flagged us down at the edge of campus and told us it was after hours and we couldn't go in without a pass. Also, the campus seemed to be in a nicer part of town. So, UC Santa Cruz is one of the few downtown schools where you probably won't have to worry about crime leaking in.

Edited by Mumbet
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  • 2 weeks later...

I was at Santa Cruz beach this year and it was really nice. The beach itself was super cold - enough to make you panic if you got all the way in - but the weather was warm enough in the summer that it didn't stop me from getting in. There were sea lions though. Like, from antartica. Huge ones. It was that cold. Dozens of them were fighting for positions under the scaffolding of the nearby pier.

The beach area was very crowded though, including lots of immigrants and also some homeless people. In fact, all the places we passed through near the bay in Santa Cruz had a vibe of poverty to them (except for one neat little futuristic diner we ate at).

Even if the campus is in a town with some poorer areas, I can attest that it's very secure; we tried to drive in just to see the buildings (Sunday afternoon) and a guard flagged us down at the edge of campus and told us it was after hours and we couldn't go in without a pass. Also, the campus seemed to be in a nicer part of town. So, UC Santa Cruz is one of the few downtown schools where you probably won't have to worry about crime leaking in.

This isn't an active topic, but I wanted to respond to Mumbet's post. To start off... the sea lions are not from Antarctica. They're there year-round. And yes, the water is freezing cold year-round also. (Hence all the surfers wearing full-body wetsuits in the summer.) The beach that Mumbet is referring to is where all the tourists and none of the locals go. There are many other beaches in nicer areas of Santa Cruz. (Locals don't usually like sharing that information- better to keep the tourists confined to one area. :P ) The Boardwalk and the beach nearby are in an area known as "Beach Flats" and it's not an area you'd want to walk through alone at night. However, UCSC (which isn't in downtown Santa Cruz) is nowhere near Beach Flats or the beach. UCSC is a huge campus up on a hill above the west side of Santa Cruz.

I was born and raised in Santa Cruz, so if anyone has any questions feel free to ask. :)

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  • 4 weeks later...

This isn't an active topic, but I wanted to respond to Mumbet's post. To start off... the sea lions are not from Antarctica. They're there year-round. And yes, the water is freezing cold year-round also. (Hence all the surfers wearing full-body wetsuits in the summer.) The beach that Mumbet is referring to is where all the tourists and none of the locals go. There are many other beaches in nicer areas of Santa Cruz. (Locals don't usually like sharing that information- better to keep the tourists confined to one area. :P ) The Boardwalk and the beach nearby are in an area known as "Beach Flats" and it's not an area you'd want to walk through alone at night. However, UCSC (which isn't in downtown Santa Cruz) is nowhere near Beach Flats or the beach. UCSC is a huge campus up on a hill above the west side of Santa Cruz.

I was born and raised in Santa Cruz, so if anyone has any questions feel free to ask. :)

KieBelle (and others!) -- I'm strongly considering Santa Cruz so am interested in learning more! Specifically -- is it worth it for me to bring a bike, or is it likely I could find a cheap one used? I live in Philadelphia now and bike everywhere -- I currently have a road bike that cost me ~$140 used so I'm trying to decide if the cost of shipping it to California is worth it (additionally, do most people use road bikes or hybrid / mountain bikes?).

As for food, I've heard there's a great farmer's market -- anybody have any experience with it? Are farm shares common / possible? And what about bars? One thing that I love about Philly is its bar scene, and all the local breweries and strong beer culture. I'm more interested in the divey-to-gastropub spectrum of things (in other words, not the type of place that exclusively serves Bud Lite and Coors).

Lastly, I'm still waiting to hear what my funding package will look like but am trying to figure out where I'd be able to live. I'm interested in a one-bedroom or (more likely) a studio. My sense is that craigslisting a place will be cheaper than campus grad housing, but does anyone know an approximate difference in the cost? If I'm looking to rent via craigslist, any areas I should particularly avoid or definitely check out? Thanks!!

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KieBelle (and others!) -- I'm strongly considering Santa Cruz so am interested in learning more! Specifically -- is it worth it for me to bring a bike, or is it likely I could find a cheap one used? I live in Philadelphia now and bike everywhere -- I currently have a road bike that cost me ~$140 used so I'm trying to decide if the cost of shipping it to California is worth it (additionally, do most people use road bikes or hybrid / mountain bikes?).

As for food, I've heard there's a great farmer's market -- anybody have any experience with it? Are farm shares common / possible? And what about bars? One thing that I love about Philly is its bar scene, and all the local breweries and strong beer culture. I'm more interested in the divey-to-gastropub spectrum of things (in other words, not the type of place that exclusively serves Bud Lite and Coors).

Lastly, I'm still waiting to hear what my funding package will look like but am trying to figure out where I'd be able to live. I'm interested in a one-bedroom or (more likely) a studio. My sense is that craigslisting a place will be cheaper than campus grad housing, but does anyone know an approximate difference in the cost? If I'm looking to rent via craigslist, any areas I should particularly avoid or definitely check out? Thanks!!

If I were you I'd wait to buy a used bike once you get to Santa Cruz. You won't have any trouble finding a decent one for pretty cheap. Most people ride road bikes, but I've certainly seen plenty of hybrids.

There's a farmer's market in downtown Santa Cruz on Wednesdays and Sundays (I think-- it's either Sat or Sun, maybe both. but def Wed.) and a larger one at a community college in Aptos (a bit too far if your only mode of transportation is a bike. even taking the bus there would be a chore, but it's worth checking out if you have a friend with a car who's willing to get up early on a Saturday morning.) There's also a couple natural foods stores in and around downtown SC. I can't help you with the farm shares- I just don't know. Sorry!

If you're coming from Philadelphia, the bar scene in SC is going to be a disappointment. There aren't many to choose from, but of the ones that are there, most are dives. You'd probably like 99 Bottles, which is a small pub with, you guessed it, 99 different kinds of beer. :) The atmosphere is laid back, the food is okay, the service is always horrible, but with 99 kinds of beer to choose from you won't care too much.

Craigslist is definitely your best bet for finding a place to live. I have no clue about campus housing so I can't help you out with that, sorry. But avoid any place near the Boardwalk. That's Beach Flats, as I mentioned in my previous post. Beach Hill is right above that area and consists mainly of old Victorians and the rent there can be a bit cheaper. It's not quite as bad as Beach Flats, but it's still a bit sketchy. The area of SC you should be looking at is the West Side. That's where most UCSC students live. I'm not sure how many studios or 1bdrs are available in that area though. It's mostly large houses with a few students sharing. Downtown SC is another good area to check out that's within a reasonable distance to campus.

Hope that helps. Good luck! :)

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I am strongly considering the funded offer from the CE department of UCSC for my MS in CE.

Can you tell me how much a grad-student needs to spend every month approximately?

What do the expenses likely to include?

It's the same stuff as anywhere else (rent, food, utilities, amenities). Do some research on Craigslist, if you want a ballpark figure. It's a bit over the national average there, overall, but the school and location are worth it. Also, ask your department if it's possible to send a message to the other students that intend to matriculate. You should easily be able to find a couple of potential room mates, that way.

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  • 11 months later...

Seeing as how this topic just got revived...I just graduated from UCSC a couple months ago and am currently still living in Santa Cruz, so I'd be happy to answer any questions about it

Edit: I see you're in developmental psych, ashmo - I was a research assistant in a developmental lab and know several of the grad students, so I could probably give you some info about the department too.

Edited by jynx
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I never went to UCSC but I was born and raised in Santa Cruz so I thought I could throw my 2 cents in. Santa Cruz is the most beautiful place I have ever lived by far, and probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. The campus is incredible, I would often go to just hang out even though I didn't go to the school. There are not many places you can find mountains, the ocean, lakes, redwood trees and open meadows within a 10 minute drive in any direction. I went to UCLA for undergrad and I can tell you I missed the nature more than I thought I would.

On a major downside, it is EXPENSIVE to live there. I think the west-side (UCSC) is even pricier than other parts, like where I grew up, but if you get roommates and divide up a big house it can be affordable. I'm not sure what kind of stipends they give, but it is one of the most expensive cities in California. I would say even sharing a room you won't find anything cheaper that $500 lowest, not including utilities. The weather is pretty mild, rarely over 80 or under 50, so you wont need much heat/AC, but if you want a more comfortable place, perhaps with your own room, you're looking at $700 a month. There are nice places that are a little farther from campus, although SC isn't that big so it's not a big deal. If I were to move back I would begin looking around Pleasure Point, lots of small places that are surprisingly low priced if you look on craigslist, and right by the beach and major commercial street (41st avenue) but still far from anything too hectic. There are also some nice places in Aptos, but it's kind of far from UCSC without a car.

The music scene is top of the line. There are so many bands, musicians and performers from Santa Cruz (I went to high school with 2 American Idol top finalists) and there are some great venues for every kind of music. The Catalyst is quite famous, and brings in big names, and Kuumbwa is a world famous jazz club, both about a 10 min drive or less from campus. There is also a great athletic community, running clubs that run along the most amazing 5 miles anywhere- West Cliff- and bike groups, soccer teams, horseback riding, SC has it all.

I could go on with my 20 years worth of experiences and loyalty to the town, but if anyone has questions please don't hesitate to ask! Good luck and I hope you all enjoy beautiful Santa Cruz!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I never went to UCSC but I was born and raised in Santa Cruz so I thought I could throw my 2 cents in. Santa Cruz is the most beautiful place I have ever lived by far, and probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. The campus is incredible, I would often go to just hang out even though I didn't go to the school. There are not many places you can find mountains, the ocean, lakes, redwood trees and open meadows within a 10 minute drive in any direction. I went to UCLA for undergrad and I can tell you I missed the nature more than I thought I would.

Santa Cruz natives who went to UCLA unite!

Those of us who come from Santa Cruz seem pretty united in our opinion that it is one of the most beautiful places on earth to live...Anyone thinking of moving there to attend UCSC is in for a treat!

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I am interested to know information about off campus housing near Jack Baskin (ECE) department. (monthly rental fees, distance and etc)

The UCSC campus is up on a hill a little bit away from town, so off-campus housing is going to be pretty much equally far away from all departments on campus. It's about a 3-minute drive from the base of campus (which is surrounded by a nice residential neighborhood) to campus proper, and practically every bus in town goes up the hill to campus. You get to ride any city bus for free as a UCSC student, which is cool.

You're probably going to want to look for housing on the Westside or near downtown, because these are really close to campus. However, they'll be a little more expensive - about $700/month for your own bedroom in a shared house on the Westside is pretty typical. I currently live in a 2-bedroom duplex about a mile from campus, and the rent is $1600/month. If you plan to drive to school or don't mind a longer bike/bus ride, it is probably worth it to check out housing east of downtown and around the Live Oak area, which tends to be a bit cheaper. It is VERY doable to get around Santa Cruz without a car, and I recommend it, as parking on campus is wicked expensive. Santa Cruz is a very bike-friendly city.

Craigslist is a great resource for finding housing in Santa Cruz, but be careful and start looking well ahead of time. I've definitely met some sketchy people on there, and have had some people completely flake out on me, once even after agreeing that I could move in. But, I also found the wonderful house I live in now, and the wonderful housemate I live with. :)

If you have any other questions about housing or anything else, please feel free to ask! I love living in Santa Cruz and am very happy to share what I know about it.

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Craigslist is a great resource for finding housing in Santa Cruz, but be careful and start looking well ahead of time.

And, don't be surprised if you see the phrases "420 friendly!!" and "we have a don't ask, don't smell policy here" often! Only area where I've routinely come across that in the local craigslist ads...

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