The 2014 Daily Cardinal Housing Guide

Want to be in the center of Madison’s house party scene? Look no further than Mifflin Street.

Want to be in the center of Madison’s house party scene? Look no further than Mifflin Street.

Image By: Thomas Yonash

'Tis the season.

Don't dive into an off-campus apartment search without the help of The Daily Cardinal.


Bassett District (5 on map)

Still a student, but learning toward a slightly more “young professional,” “real person” mindset? If you’re ready to move on from the $5-a-cup parties on North Bassett Street, the Bassett District located on its southern counterpart is ideal. In this neighborhood that spans between West Washington Avenue and Lake Monona, you can pick from a medley of brand-new high rises and picturesque, old-fashioned houses that aren’t as trashy as those you’ll find elsewhere on campus. Though it’s just a five-minute bike ride from campus, you’ll never want to leave thanks to the neighborhood’s proximity to Barrique’s, Electric Earth Cafe, the Capitol Square and Maharani Indian Restaurant (and its awe-inspiring lunch buffet). 

Check out: Keller Real Estate, Patrick Properties, Mullins Apartments, Ellickson Properties,  Madison Property Management, Greenbush Properties

Who’s your alder? Michael Verveer (District 4)


Camp Randall (1 on the map)

If you’re the type of person who enjoys cracking open a Rolling Rock at 7 a.m. to prepare for a Badger football win but also appreciates a nice persian rug from time to time, the Camp Randall neighborhood is the place for you. Obviously, it’s the only place to be on gameday—flabongos on the lawn, anyone?—but just a bit further south you’ll find State Street’s more hipster, family-friendly cousin, Monroe Street, home to culinary perfection at Pizza Brutta, Brasserie V and Mickie’s Dairy Bar; eclectic specialty shops selling everything from the aforementioned persian rugs to fine chocolates to wine and beer home-brewing kits; and of course, Trader Joe’s (that three-buck chuck, tho). Expect to pay a bit more if you live right on the hallowed pregame grounds of Breese Terrace, but if you look just a few streets to the west or to the south you’ll find affordable living in semi-frumpy but charming houses. The neighborhood is a short bike or bus ride off-campus, but if you’re an engineering or medical student it’s the ideal place for you to set up camp.

Check out: Tallard Apartments, SRM Properties, Madison Property Management, J. Michael Real Estate

Who’s your alder? Shiva Bidar-Sielaff (District 5)


Campus high rises (11 on map)

If location and convenience are the most important elements in your housing search, sign a lease at Grand Central, X01, Vantage Point, Humbucker, Park Terrace West, Varsity Quarters or 210 N. Charter. These campus high rises are archetypal city living—you’ll pay quite a bit to (probably) share a room, which may be windowless, in a unit that doesn’t have a lot of square footage, but you’ll also get soaring views of the city from your balcony; a place in a location that’s perfect for your Roll Out Of Bed Five Minutes Before Class lifestyle; and some great perks and amenities (many units include all utilities and modern furniture, for example, and most of the buildings have shops or eateries on their ground level). The companies running these places will pressure you to sign early, as your clogged email inbox has probably noticed, but try to hold out until late fall semester or early spring semester to snag a deal on your lease.

Check out: Madison Property Management, Varsity Quarters

Who’s your alder? Scott Resnick (District 8)


Greenbush (4 on map) 

The Greenbush neighborhood is by far one of the most unique areas in the Madison area, home to a pleasant mélange of students and families and near diversions like the Henry Vilas Zoo and the UW-Madison Arboretum. It’s a cozy neighborhood south of Regent Street that can be a bit of a trek from downtown, but perfect if you’re looking for an escape from college student-dominated areas like the Sophomore Slums and Mifflin Street. With that in mind, take care if you’re going to throw a Friday-night kegger—some of the families living nearby might not take kindly to your millennial debauchery. You’ll still have your pick of dive bars and coffeehouses though, as Indie Coffee and Greenbush Bar are just around the bend. Eating Greenbush Doughnuts every day, for every meal, is absolutely encouraged.

Check out: Forward Management, Tallard Apartments, Madison Property Management, Patrick Properties, SRM Properties

Who’s your alder? Lucas Dailey (District 13)


James Madison Park (7 on map)

With a location near Lake Mendota, the Capitol Square and, shockingly, James Madison Park, the James Madison Park neighborhood offers a quaint, tranquil environment with apartments whose rents don’t bully you for your entire paycheck. The neighborhood is just far enough from the noise and bustle of downtown, but a walk down the street to the Dane County Farmers Market or Concerts on the Square is totally doable. With foodie finds like Forequarter, Sophia’s Bakery and Cafe and Johnson Public House, plus quirky retro stores like Good Style Shop, the neighborhood is ideal for students seeking the vibes of Williamson (Willy) Street on the shores of Mendota. “But it’s too far from campus,” you say? Get a bike, you bozo—it’s just a ten-minute trip to the heart of campus.

Check out: Keller Real Estate. Patrick Properties, Mullins Apartments, Ellickson Properties,  Madison Property Management, Greenbush Properties

Who’s your alder? Ledell Zellers (District 2)


Langdon Street (6 on map)

Involved in Greek life? There’s no doubt you’ll likely live on Langdon Street at least once during your time at UW-Madison. But for anyone, Greek or otherwise, Langdon Street offers a close proximity to the action of State Street with a variety of housing options. Take your pick from a few luxury apartments, or be a bit more financially savvy and look into houses in decent-ish shape; their styles range from ’70s on steroids to Greek-esque. Oftentimes it seems like half the student population is roaming the neighborhood’s streets during Welcome Week, so if noise isn’t for you, consider looking somewhere else. One thing’s for sure if you live on Langdon: You’ll get really good at shotgunning cheap beer on your pier on Lake Mendota.

Check out:  CHT Apartments, J. Michael Real Estate, Patrick Properties, Lake Town Apartments, Hovde Properties, Palisade Property, Wisconsin Management Company,  Surf & Surfside Apartments

Who’s your alder? Depending on which side of the neighborhood you live in, either Ledell Zellers or Scott Resnick (Districts 2 and 8, respectively)


Mansion Hill (8 on map)

In the Mansion Hill neighborhood, all of your wildest “House Hunters”-inspired dreams will come true thanks to accents like crown moldings, crystal doorknobs and pristine hardwood floors present in most, if not all, of the houses in the area. The neighborhood itself is pretty calm, but if you’re ready to put on your freakum dress for a rip-roaring night on the town, seek out some of the area’s hidden gems—the legendary Plaza Tavern & Grill, for instance—or head just a few blocks to the downtown area. This historic neighborhood is the best place to live if you’re seeking an apartment with as much personality as Barack Obama circa 2008.

Check out: Korotev Group, CMI Management, JSM Properties, Docken Management, Lofgren Properties, CHT Apartments, Steve Brown Apartments

Who’s your alder? Ledell Zellers (District 2)


Mifflin Street (9 on map)

Is it from the red solo cups dotting lawns like poppies? The stench of day-old vomit crusting on the sidewalk? The “fuck it” vibes seeping from hungover college students lounging on couches slumped on porches of run-down houses that are long past their glory days? Or maybe the sacred tradition of being a menace to society for a day at the infamous Mifflin Street Block Party? Whatever the source, the Mifflin Street neighborhood is ~so college~ through and through, and if you’re looking for an apartment there, you’d better snatch it up quickly. A unit there will put a dent in your wallet a bit more than other eastside neighborhoods due to its proximity to campus, but if you share the place with a decent-sized group of friends, you can make rent much more affordable. If you’d like an apartment on a street that’s a bit more upscale but feeds off Mifflin’s vibrant atmosphere, look on Dayton Street; for a similar feel to Mifflin in slightly cheaper units, try Bedford or Broom Streets.

Check out: Oakland Property Services, Madison Development Corporation, Madison Campus Rentals, McBride Companies

Who’s your alder? Michael Verveer (District 4)


Sophomore Slums (2 on map)

Sure, the Sophomore Slums neighborhood often lives up the first half of its name, since a lot of second-year students find it to be a smooth transition from dorm life, but don’t be deceived by the latter half—there are much crappier places to live around campus than this neighborhood. Located around Dayton, Park, Mills and Spring Streets, the compact yet contemporary apartment buildings that make up the area have a location—and rent rates—rivaled by few. When the entire neighborhood congregates in the courtyards for multiple-keg shindigs on gamedays, you might find yourself getting a warm, fuzzy, “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” feeling* with which high rises close by just can’t compete.

*Note: Might also be the result of drinking since 8 a.m.

Check out: JSM Properties, Rouse Management, Smith Management, Forward Management

Who’s your alder? Michael Verveer (District 4)


State Street (3 on map)

If you’re seeking out an apartment that puts Madison’s best nightlife, shopping and people-watching literally on your doorstep, seek out an apartment on State Street. If money means nothing to you, look into the glamorous units of Pres House or the still-being-built Hub building; but if you’re on a slightly tighter budget and pining for old-school State Street charm that evokes memories of the good ol’ days when Buraka, Husnu’s and Kabul were still neighbors (NEVER FORGET), seek out units owned by smaller companies. Be aware that your dollar won’t stretch very far for small units with oft-awkward layouts, but it’s worth it you have the chance to live above your favorite coffeehouse or dive bar—you’re there all the time anyway, right?—and when events like the Homecoming Parade and Freakfest are at your fingertips. 

Check out: JSM Properties, Boardwalk Investments, Hawthorne Apartments, Towers on State, PH Apartments

Who’s your alder? Michael Verveer (District 4) 


Downtown high rises (10 on map)

After indulging in the comforts of residence hall life, with its readily available food, proximity to your friends and prime, the idea of finding your first apartment can be intimidating. For those searching for apartments that are essentially glorified dorm rooms without the house fellows, look into signing a lease in a high rise on University Avenue/West Gorham Street. Take your pick from Lucky, Equinox, Aberdeen, Embassy, 420 W. Gorham, La Ciel, La Ville, Pres House or Palisade Apartments—all have numerous room and layout options, meaning you and your besties from Sellery 6A can all fit into the same apartment. Your wallet will take a hit if you don’t share a room, but the units are often furnished, feature balconies, and are smack dab in the heart of downtown Madison. Plus, most of the buildings are perched atop necessities like liquor stores and greasy pizza joints. Randos wandering the halls might crash your wop-fueled rager, but that’s just part of the charm, right?

Check out: Madison Property Management, Orosz Properties, Aberdeen Apartments, Forward Management, Boardwalk Investments, Palisade Property Management

Who’s your alder? Michael Verveer (District 4)


Apartment Tour Checklist:

  • Is there any mold or rotting wood?
  • Are there locks on the main door and bedroom doors?
  • Is there enough storage and cabinet space?
  • Do the rooms get enough natural light?
  • Is there a window in every room?
  • Where would you put trash and recycling?
  • Does the apartment include any furniture or appliances? 
  • Which utilites, if any, are included in the rent?
  • Is there an extra fee to share a room?
  • Are there working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors?
  • Look online for reviews of the management company—are they positive or negative?


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