Home away from home: A look inside on-campus housing

Looking for a place to live is an important decision for college students. For many, the place they choose will be home for the next couple of months, or years, while attending school. There are a lot of factors that need to be evaluated when selecting a soon-to-be home. Considerations include how far the commute is from school, whether or not one wants a roommate, as well as affordability. 

NAU provides various options for living on campus. Located near du Bois Center is The Suites, a shared community living space. This option is based on dorm-style accommodations and, according to its website, offers a variety of floor plans. Students can select a private room, or share with one or more roommates. The Suites provides study rooms, lounge areas, shared kitchens, a gym and laundry rooms.

Junior Alexis Reyes Lee, who currently lives at The Suites, explained she chose to live there because of the pricing. Reyes Lee stays in an apartment consisting of one bedroom and one bathroom, which she shares with her roommate. She pays around $680 a month and said it is worth the price, as one of the cheapest living options she could find on campus. Reyes Lee said knowing her budget and being able to sign a lease without a co-signer helped her pick The Suites. In particular, one of the amenities Reyes Lee likes is the weight room —  she said there are multiple workout machines available the majority of the time. Another recently added perk Reyes Lee mentioned is complimentary laundry service.

The price of a shared room at the Suites is worth it, Reyes Lee said, but if anyone were to pay more for a room there, it would be best to look at other on-campus living options. For instance, one can pay a little more to get an apartment providing a shared kitchen and living space with a few other roommates, instead of having to live with community amenities.

“I don’t have a car, and being able to walk to my different classes is pretty nice,” Reyes Lee said. “It [also] takes less time to go to classes rather than coming from off campus. I also work on campus as a True Blue Ambassador, so I’m able to go to work as well, right there on campus. It takes me about 20 minutes for a comfortable walk to work rather than being off campus, which might take longer.”

Senior Daniela Millan is in her third year of living at SkyView. According to its website, the complex has two- to four-bedroom apartments, with the lowest price being $834 and the highest as $879. Millan said she lives at Skyview because of the on-campus location, in addition to having her own bedroom and bathroom. For the three years Millan signed leases, she pointed out the rates increased, leading her to debate whether SkyView is still the right home for her. 

When Millan first signed with Skyview, she paid $736 monthly; now, during her third year of living there, she pays $819. Further, Millan explained there have been issues when she uses the roommate app SkyView provides. She did not end up getting the roommate she matched with, because at the last minute, her pairings were switched and she was partnered with people she did not know.

“I just really try to live with people that I know,” Millan said. “I get random roommates every year because they’re either graduating or they just moved somewhere else. I know I don’t like inconsistency, but sometimes they arrange that I live with certain people that we matched with on a certain app — it’s like a roommate app. Then, at the last minute, they switched everybody out this year. What was the point of the roommate app if you’re going to match me with people who I didn’t come up with?”

Millan explained the time she lost her parking spot due to a miscommunication with SkyView, which was stressful because the complex did not contact her regarding the renewal of her parking permit.

Located on South San Francisco Street is Hilltop Townhomes, another on-campus living option for students. Hilltop Townhomes offers apartments with four bedrooms and three bathrooms, with the lowest pricing marked at $829 and the highest coming in at $849.

Junior Shannen Cueto described her experience living at Hilltop, which began this academic year after staying in Raymond and Reilly Hall. When comparing Raymond to Hilltop Townhomes, Cueto referenced how small of a living space the former provided. She shared the apartment with two other girls, along with one bathroom and a small kitchen. 

Living at Hilltop, Cueto said she likes the spaciousness the apartment provides. She has her own bedroom, bathroom and a bigger kitchen, and concluded that moving into Hilltop was an upgrade.

“I also looked around here in Flagstaff, and there’s several two-bed and two-bath [apartments], but they’re going for $2,000,” Cueto said. “There’s really low-priced apartments nearby, but they’re really old and you still have to furnish it on your own. So I feel like the price that I pay for Hilltop is kind of worth it — or it just makes sense why I’m paying that much money to be right on campus.”

Hilltop provides fully furnished units, which is one less factor to budget for. Cueto pays the lowest rate, $829 monthly, to live at the townhomes. A minor complaint she had is contributing an additional $50 a month toward parking, which she said should be included in the overall payment.

Cueto said one of the main reasons she decided to live at Hilltop was because of the convenience of getting to her classes. The commute consists of a quick bus ride and short walk, which she described as hassle-free and budget-friendly — especially with saving on gas. Not having a down payment or security deposit, in addition to providing individual leases, also contributed to Cueto’s decision to live at Hilltop.

An amenity Cueto likes is the gym; she said she goes three-to-five times a week. She explained this resource is good to utilize if students want to do cardio or fit in a quick workout. Cueto also said the management at Hilltop has responded quickly to her service requests, which has made her experience with staff good so far.

Affordable housing is a must for college students, and it can be a bigger plus if apartments, townhomes or other living styles are located on campus. For NAU, on-campus housing prices vary, and being aware of which options are worth their price can be beneficial. Knowing what to look for in a living situation, and deciding how much one is willing to pay, helps narrow choices. A student’s soon-to-be home should be one that is easy to love and affordable.

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