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Old 02-26-2014, 07:38 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC
3 posts, read 4,252 times
Reputation: 10

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Hello all,

I currently live in DC and will be moving to Madison for grad school in May. I know there are a ton of threads on here about similar situations, but I just really have no idea what I'm doing. I have been looking at apartments all over the city (online), but have been getting conflicting opinions from reviews about where the best place is to live.

I'm looking to live in a 1 bedroom apt, and I do have a car. I also love to walk, so living further away from the center of town is fine with me. Currently, it takes me 25 minutes just to walk from my apartment to my metro stop, so really anything less than that is incredible!

Any suggestions about the best neighborhoods (but not crazy expensive ones!) to live in would be much appreciated.

Thank you!
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Old 02-26-2014, 07:50 PM
 
5,683 posts, read 9,462,387 times
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Well, part of the reason you're getting conflicting opinions is that one person's perfect place is another one's hell-hole. And there isn't a lot in your post to indicate how you would define either one. Can you give us a little better idea of what you're looking for beyond "one-bedroom, have a car, love to walk?" For example:

Do you have pets?
Do you prefer newer buildings with all the modern conveniences or older ones with maybe a little more character?
How close do you want to be to shopping?
Do you plan to use that car to get to/from campus?
Will you be living alone or with someone else?
And perhaps most important, how exactly do you define "crazy expensive?"

If you'd like to expand just a little on what you're seeking, it would be an awful lot easier for the regulars here to respond usefully.
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Old 02-27-2014, 08:34 AM
 
Location: Washington, DC
3 posts, read 4,252 times
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Absolutely, sorry I didn't add more information earlier.

I have no pets, but may get a rabbit. I love older buildings with character, but also don't want any with mold problems associated with older buildings. So any recently updated older buildings would be ideal. I'm not so worried about being close to shopping, more so maybe to any sort of small cafe but it doesn't need to be a lot. Anything within a 10-15 minute walk to a shopping area would be fine. I am fine with using my car to get to/from campus, but if I had the option of walking that would be nice. But driving is fine. I will be living alone, so I don't need too much space in a 1 bedroom. I define crazy expensive as $900-$1000 for a one bedroom (not including utilities/parking). I would ideally like to be in the $700-$850 range.

I have been seriously looking at the area near the Arboretum, any specific ideas about that area at all? I would love to be near a park or any of the lakes.
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:09 AM
 
Location: Verona, WI
1,201 posts, read 2,118,549 times
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Just a heads-up that parking on campus sucks so I would not recommend relying on driving to campus. I HIGHLY recommend finding an apartment within reasonable biking distance or along a direct bus line. Unfortunately many of the best places are owned by smaller landlords who do not advertise online, and most campus area leases tend to turn over on August 14.

Really, the ideal area for you to begin your search would be the Sheboygan Ave. area. A lot of graduate students live there. The buildings are older with few amenities but are generally well-kept. Many have parking lots with free parking (the closer you get to campus, the more parking becomes a premium, especially in the Old University Ave. area). You should be able to find a one-bedroom on Sheboygan Ave. within your price range, but you may need to be a bit flexible on the lease start date. The area is on an easy bus line to campus, and within walking distance to Hilldale mall for shopping.
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:25 AM
 
5,683 posts, read 9,462,387 times
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Ragnar is spot-on in his post - that's the same area I would suggest. And pay good heed to his comments about parking, too; even if you find an apartment with free off-street parking, campus parking is so awful that you are probably not going to want to drive to/from class.

I think you should be able to find something in your price range, though it'll be small and very bare-bones. Anything under $700 near the campus is likely to be either a dive and/or a rough area, so be wary of apparently too-good-to-be-true deals.

As to your lease start date, while it's true that nearly all leases for buildings within 3 or 4 miles of campus start in mid-August, you'd be coming in at the perfect time to pick up a summer sublease from another student. Some landlords will even keep a list of their tenants who are seeking sublessees (at least the one I used to work for did), which could help as well. Frequently subleases are available for a reduced rent rate, too, though if you kept the apartment in your own name after the end of the sublease, it would be at full price.

Once you locate a possible apartment, be sure to ask who pays utilities. If the tenant pays gas/electric/heat, go to this URL: Average Energy Use and Cost for Residential Addresses - Madison Gas and Electric - Madison, Wisconsin, type in the address and apartment number, and you can get a good idea of how much extra to budget for utilities. Do keep in mind that this winter has been simply brutal, though, so the utility costs you see on that site for the December-2013 to March-2014 time frame could be higher than typical.

Oh, your question about living near the Arboretum - some of the nearby neighborhoods are quite nice, and some not so much. If you're looking at the area near St. Mary's Hospital, most of that region should be fine. Other parts of the Arb abut on neighborhoods that are a little on the sketchy side.
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Old 02-27-2014, 04:24 PM
 
Location: Verona, WI
1,201 posts, read 2,118,549 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MidwesternBookWorm View Post
Other parts of the Arb abut on neighborhoods that are a little on the sketchy side.
And not terribly convenient to campus as well, I will add.

You may also be able to find an older apartment in Middleton along the University Ave corridor that will provide good direct bus service to campus.

You may find some cheaper complexes to the East of campus in the Fordem Ave. area, but this is not a great area (for safety, travel convenience and shopping), and you will need to go through the congested capital/isthmus area at least twice a day to get to campus and back home. Your best bets are to the West/near-West or near-South areas relative to campus. Expect a lot of undergrad hoopla in the Regent St. area just South of campus, but as you go further South toward St. Mary's Hospital and the Arboretum, the atmosphere gets notably quieter and more professional.

Also in general, as MWB pointed out, the closer you get to campus to tougher it will be to accommodate your car, especially if you want to avoid a monthly parking fee. When I was looking for apartments as a graduate student over ten years ago, it was far easier (and cheaper) to accommodate my cat than my car. I ended up in a unit on North Franklin Ave. with no parking fee at the time, which was a win for me. The area is largely residential, but there are a smattering of smaller apartment complexes scattered throughout the neighborhoods., the largest concentration of which are located on Midvale Bld. right across from Hilldale Mall. Also check Kendall Ave too.
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Old 02-27-2014, 06:06 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC
3 posts, read 4,252 times
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Thank you so much for your responses! They have definitely helped me narrow down my search area. I've found a few places near Sheboygan ave and Camp Randall that look promising. I really appreciate your insight, thank you!
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Old 02-27-2014, 07:07 PM
 
5,683 posts, read 9,462,387 times
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Do you enjoy football, large crowds and dozens of strangers tailgating in your front yard? If so, the Camp Randall area should be right up your alley. If those things don't appeal to you, might want to think twice about being anywhere within a mile of the stadium.
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Old 02-27-2014, 08:20 PM
 
Location: Madison, WI
1,736 posts, read 4,904,136 times
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Be warned that the Sheboygan Ave apartments (all of the buildings, even with different owners) do not allow any kind of pets, including rabbits. They mean it, too.

Honestly, while some may think your budget will work, I am skeptical. Even $850 will only get you sort of a dive at best. I think you are going to have to figure out a way to up your budget to at least $900 per month for a one bedroom.
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Old 03-05-2014, 10:14 AM
 
4,060 posts, read 4,788,172 times
Reputation: 2871
Agree with other posters.

I would add that rabbits in particular can be very limiting in terms of your rent options. Even landlords that are ok with cats/dogs are often wary of rabbits - and not wholly undeserved as the risk of chewed woodwork is high.
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