The window for students hoping to get off-campus housing leases for the 2022-2023 academic year is narrowing as fall in Wisconsin comes to a close. Many students are faced with a tough decision: live within walking distance of campus at a high cost, or living further away from campus and commute to class.
Katie, a freshman currently living on campus, is still looking for off-campus housing with two of her friends. One of the main struggles they have faced is finding a location they can all agree on. All three of them have different majors, and their classes take place in different places on campus.
“It’s a difficult and frustrating experience,” she said, adding that “almost every place that works within our budgets is too far of a walking distance for either side of campus.” The only neighborhood that was within walking distance for all three of them was around Camp Randall, well beyond their budget, with three bedroom accommodations renting for anywhere from $800 to $1000 dollars a month per bedroom, after utilities.
Katie also emphasized that she and her friends would rather pay slightly more for rent and not commute.
For students willing to commute, it isn’t all bad though. A 2019 study ranked the Madison transportation system as first in the nation for safety and reliability. While scoring lower in public transportation resources, 4th, and accessibility and convenience, 46th, Madison was still ranked 5th overall in the nation for public transportation. Combined with the Associated Students of Madison bus pass that every student receives, campus community members are able to take busses across Madison without any additional costs.
This has encouraged students who would’ve liked to live closer to campus to look a little further than they might’ve initially expected.
Robin, a graduate student, chose to live further from the university and commute by bus to class. He mentioned that on weekdays he has access to busses that run every 10 to 15 minutes to campus, and that his quality of life further from campus is better.
“I live right across the street from a grocery store, which is great,” Robin said. He added that “overall, living further from campus means I can benefit from cheaper restaurants, groceries and other things, while still being 15 minutes away from campus by bus.”
On top of everything, Robin mentioned that he’s paying significantly less for his rent than he would be if he had chosen to live closer to campus.
Commuting isn’t for everyone. Living further from campus, students can benefit from lower prices and lower rent. The only major downside to that being increased commute times, which can be combated through busses, biking and other ways of convenient transportation. Busses don’t run to every part of campus from every part of town, though, and they run with reduced frequency on weekends, making it more difficult for students to meet friends in and around campus outside of class.
For students looking to reduce their cost of living, however, commuting may be a good way of doing it.