Student housing decisions encompass rent, location

By Matt Troher, Investigative News and Longform Editor

College is often the last time students live in a small, walkable community. It’s the last time friends live down the street from other friends and the last time that in-person responsibilities are only a few minutes’ walk away. Housing decisions can dictate a student’s life.

The yearly hunt for housing is an important decision weighing on the minds of students. Factors such as rent, location and amenities play important roles in students’ choices of where to live.

Cesar Monsalud, senior in Engineering, spent his first year on campus living at Koinonia — an all-male Private Certified Housing option for Christians. He enjoyed his time at Koinonia but said he felt restricted by the Private Certified Housing rules.

When it came time to search for an apartment for his senior year, Monsalud listed three factors that influenced his housing choices: cheap rent, proximity to classes and basic amenities.

Monsalud said he felt as if the housing search could be better organized. He wished there was a centralized system for housing searches.

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“I hated having to look through five different leasing company websites for apartments,” Monsalud said. “I like my apartment, but I doubt it’s the best one for me; it’s just the one that I could find. There should be one centralized site where people can filter things such as location and cost of all housing.”

Location is often the most important factor for many people when it comes to choosing housing options. Engineering students are apt to live on the far north side of campus, closer to the Engineering Quad, while music students seek out housing closer to the Music Building and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

Sharyil Garg, sophomore in Engineering, currently lives at ISR. He said the building’s height gives him an opportunity to have a scenic view — one of the biggest factors in choosing what dorm to live in. However, after two years of living in the dorms, he is looking to move into an apartment.

“My rent is pretty low because it includes utilities and amenities, so I don’t need to account for that,” Garg said. “The apartment is like a five-minute walk from the ECE building; it could have been closer, but it was the best it could have been for the price.”

Rent prices vary across campus. Price-savvy students can find apartments in the lower range — $500 per month — while those who wish to live in popular areas of campus can expect to pay upwards of $1,000 per month. 

The upper floors of Champaign’s high-rise buildings are another factor that could influence students’ living decisions as the top floors bring picturesque views and large balconies. However, the upper floors of these buildings are higher in price than the lower floors.

Faith Skrzelowski, senior in LAS, lives on the seventh floor of her apartment building, the last floor before the upper-floor charges kick in. Skrzelowski said that unaware students could be caught off guard by the upper-floor upcharges. 

“We’re not even that high up, we’re only halfway up the building,” Skrzelowski said. “The thing that no one is really mentioning is that higher floors often pay a floor premium. The people right above us pay more, and the highest two or three floors will pay even more.”

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