Again, a big Congrats on your acceptance into the program! One of the biggest concerns when relocating to a new city (or even relocating from a suburb into the city) is housing. Where the heck do you live? Chicago is a very large city and has many different neighborhoods, all unique and distinct in their vibe. I live in Lakeview, which is North of Chicago proper and has access to the Red and Brown lines, which offer a quick and easy commute to Columbia’s campus. I had a really difficult time using Craigslist and trying to find a place to live in the city prior to my arrival. I filled out applications several times, had friends that I knew in the city visit apartments for me, and I just did not have any luck. So, in a true adventurous (and potentially disastrous) spirit, I loaded up a U-hual truck and ventured out to the city (a three day drive from San Diego) with no place to live and a cheap hotel accommodation in some random neighborhood just outside of O’Hare Airport.
When I arrived in the city, I immediately called The Apartment People. I had heard about them through Columbia College’s Relocation Guide and knew that the service was free. Free was very important to me. I say I immediately called, because upon my arrival at the cheap hotel outside of O’hare Airport, I shared an elevator with what may have been a prostitute. I don’t mean to pass judgement, but it was three am and, well, the area was a little seedy. It’s just a hunch. The air-conditioner hissed and rattled all night, and I’m sure the sheets were not washed, or perhaps detergent hadn’t been used. And, I most certainly wore flip-flops in the shower. Hence, the immediacy to find an apartment. Fast.[flickr id=”6791329920″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”center”]
I called Apartment People at 8am and they made a same day 1:00 appointment for me. I arrived at Apartment People and was greeted with fresh baked cookies. We immediately began talking about what type of place I wanted, what amenities I couldn’t live without, my price range, and before I knew it I was in Carol’s, my apartment finding agent’s car, and she was driving me around the city. I saw six apartments that day, all in my price range and all in what seemed to be very lovely areas. The next day I was at Apartment People (being served pizza) signing a lease. It was almost too easy.
Like I said before, I live in Lakeview, which I wrote about in a previous post. So far, I have been happy in this neighborhood, but I think I will change it up soon, just to try and experience another kind of Chicago neighborhood. The vibe of a neighborhood is important, so whether you’re being driven around by an Apartment People agent or whether you have the opportunity to visit and walk the neighborhood yourself, you really should try to get out of the car for a bit or walk into coffee shops, just to see if you enjoy the vibe. Though, vibe aside, the most insider information I can give you is to make sure that you are close to the El. Having to take a bus to the El is a pain in the butt, and in the cold winter months, you will want to be as close as you can for the blizzardy walk home. It can be brutal.[flickr id=”6791330026″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”center”]
Here is a link to our Columbia College Chicago Program blog, with a handy dandy list of neighborhoods and transportation info, as well as a link to Chris Terry’s (Fiction MFA) recent blog post. He does a nice job of summing up the different neighborhoods that the majority of Columbia’s grad students live in.
I’ll continue my Congrats on Your Acceptance Posts next week! More soon!