Campus housing is a stressful topic this time of year for students on campus. Whether it’s freshman fresh out of the dorms or fifth-year seniors looking for a small place to post up for their victory lap, it seems everyone is rushing to sign a prime piece of real estate. Deciding to live in the sophomore slums, Capitol side, State Street or the Camp Randall area is a decision that many individuals and groups struggle with. So where is the best place for you? Let’s see if we can’t break it down.
The Sophomore Slums is generally considered to be bounded by Park Street, Regent Street, West Dayton Street and Breeze Terrace. The area is known for its beautiful views of large concrete walls, other apartments and busy streets. If, for some insane reason, you miss dorm life, don’t fear. The cramped quarters, thin walls and high prices will make you feel right at home. But it’s not all bad. The short distance to most classes and the proximity to McDonalds, the holy grail of late night munchies, is definitely a huge perk. I personally did my time in College Park, a wonderful establishment that I would recommend to anyone for a relatively cheap and manageably large place to live.
The Camp Randall area, by my definition, is more on the residential side of the equation. These are usually houses or apartments disguised as houses that are very easy to find if you follow the mass of intoxicated fans stumbling toward said locations. Here you can graduate from coin laundry and shared space and move on to full house upkeep on your own, paying for utilities, adventures in mold and hosting those dirty basement parties you loved so much as a freshman. If you don’t want to kill at least one of your roommates in this stage of your college career, you probably aren’t doing it right. Perks include being able to sell your run-down patch of gravel for an arm and a leg to cover your utilities (or recreational beverages) as well as the freedom of finally being able to (usually) have your own space. I am currently living in the neighborhood and enjoy it very much.
The Capitol side is what I think of as those houses closely surrounding the Capitol and those around West Washington Street and the surrounding area. These are majestic structures, mostly with the structural integrity of cardboard. They often come with cool little nooks and crannies that were at one point likely used to house kegs or bodies. If you manage to sign one of these before the ravenous upper class gets at them, you will enjoy massively muscled thighs from the 15 minute bike rides back and forth to class. Don’t go too far into the neighborhood though, or you will soon infringe upon the peaceful natives of the “residential” section. These are real people who will call the cops on you if you are being a jerk (which you probably are — this is college.) Perks of this distant land of mismatched architecture are that you can sip Ronny D on ice whilst twirling your mustache and playing chess on your porch, feeling generally quite classy. Also, these houses generally house more people and have nicer setups and bigger rooms, so you don’t have to fear that ice-cold shower and nice bump on your noggin from the three foot ceiling every morning.
And then there’s State Street, the Promised Land for those with the magical 2-1 on their ID, whether it’s real or not. These properties consist of houses/apartments shoved as close together as the realtors can manage, usually above businesses or just behind them. They vary in quality, from virtual mansion to hiding hole, but even those dirty hideaways will cost you an arm, a leg and your firstborn child. Cramped quarters, yes, but all of the musicians on State Street will serenade you with their music no matter what time of day or night, whether it be good or bad. Your apartment door is usually a sketchy entrance between two loud businesses that won’t give two shakes about tests or sleeping schedules, but then there isn’t anyone to complain about the noise … well, except for the 12 other apartments with walls touching yours. If you have the midas touch and turn your textbooks into gold for rent, it is a great place to live to experience the culture of our great city. Right next to bars, concert venues, restaurants and not to mention the best people watching anywhere around, I have been told it is worth the hassle.
No matter where you live come next fall, you are in Madison, one of the best cities on Earth. Whether it be a hole in the ground or a marble-encrusted mansion, as long as you have good friends and good times, anywhere you live will be a great home.
Elias Radtke (eradtke