Life living far from Grounds

The pros and cons

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The Flats apartment complex provides a unique housing option for University students away from Grounds. 

University of Virginia | Cavalier Daily

As lease-signing season is upon us, many students get a taste of one of the most important rite of passages of adulthood. There are many off-Grounds living options, with some farther than others.

This year second-year College student Isabel Singer lives in The Flats at West Village, which is about three-quarters of a mile from the Lawn. Her living arrangement — located farther from Grounds than many housing options — has affected her daily routine, from when and where she eats to her studying and commuting habits.

Singer said she generally will eat on the Corner or at Benny’s, close to The Flats on Main St., or she will cook for herself at home — although she almost never goes home in the middle of the day for lunch. Typically, she said she walks to class, but if she is in a rush she will take the Free Trolley since there is a stop right outside The Flats.

“Sometimes on the weekends it’s hard to motivate to come to the library, but during the week … I come to the library because I just go right after class or right after whatever I have, and I won’t go home until I’m done with everything on Grounds,” Singer said.

Another factor of living far off Grounds is the wider variety of residents. Singer said she has noticed the demographic of her neighbors consists of medical school students, graduate students and even families of local community members, and she believes the diversity of her neighbors is due to the close proximity of the University hospital.

“I’m at college, and I just want to be with people my own age,” Singer said. “Sometimes in the morning there are kids playing in the courtyard, so like that’s kind of weird. I don’t like that.”

Singer said she and her other roommates have already signed a lease to live in the 1029 Wertland St. apartments next year, which are closer to Grounds and more of the undergraduate student activity than The Flats.

On the contrary, third-year Curry student Reemah Hashem —who lives near the intersection of 14th St. and Grady Ave. and almost a mile from the Lawn — said she appreciates living near a more diverse demographic of students, both graduate and undergraduate, and Charlottesville locals. Last year, she lived in Woodrow Apartments on Jefferson Park Avenue, which are very close to Grounds.

“I felt sheltered on JPA because I was surrounded by University students. I think it’s good being where I am because it forces you to see the outer Charlottesville community and not be blind to it like I was last year,” Hashem said. “It gives you more of a perception of what reality is.”

Hashem said she chose this location because she and her roommates wanted to live in a house, which often affords more privacy and liberty than living in an apartment complex. Although she said she was initially worried it would feel very far from Grounds, and even considered bringing a bike to school, she has found it does not feel as far as it seems.

“It’s like one podcast and then I’ve arrived [to class],” Hashem said.

Another happy surprise for Hashem, given her distance from Grounds, was her discovery of living at least equidistant to the Charlottesville Downtown Mall as to Central Grounds.

“I’ve definitely eaten … on the Downtown Mall more this semester,” Hashem said. “I don’t think I’ve eaten at the Corner more than once.”

Hashem has signed to re-lease her house for the next academic year.

What’s more unusual is the living arrangement of second-year College student Merritt Vance, who lives in a residential area on Ivy Road, at the intersection of Ivy Road and Emmet Street, with two other roommates. They live in one of their roommate’s parent’s houses. Her commute to class generally takes 15 to 20 minutes, and she rarely comes home for lunch, which has pushed her to plan her meals in advance.

Vance said she enjoys having a space away from the busy undergraduate student life, but that she has made different living arrangements for the next academic year.

“Next year I'm going to live on the Corner to be closer to friends, but I wouldn't trade the experience of living in the house for anything,” Vance said in an email statement.

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