housing

A four-bedroom quad in the High Rises costs roughly the same as a four-bedroom apartment in the Radian.

From college dorms to opulent off-campus residences, students are considering a wide range of housing options for the upcoming academic year.

Each spring, housing complexes release their leases for the upcoming year and students begin their housing searches. While freshmen are required to live in on-campus college houses, upperclassmen can live on or off campus. Fifty-nine percent of Penn’s undergraduate population — including freshmen — currently reside on campus, while the rest choose to live off campus.

Among the housing locations surveyed, on-campus housing provided the best deals, with a new pricing system that will be implemented for the next academic year, with two new price points replacing the range of costs. The projected rates are $1,050 or $1,470 per month, depending on the type of room — a decrease in rate for most, though an increase for some. Students who choose to return to their on-campus rooms but whose rent would be increased by the change will be grandfathered in for one year with the old rate.

College freshman Gabriela Juarez is choosing to stay on campus next year to room with her friend in a Sansom West double.

“I was looking for cheap housing,” she said. “I’m on financial aid, which usually covers the low range [of on-campus housing]. No way I’m paying $1,300 for [a room in a high rise].”

Additionally, Juarez cited proximity to certain school buildings and recreational spots as another strong reason for her choice to room in Sansom West. As she will be taking many classes in Claudia Cohen Hall and Williams Hall next year, she wanted to remain close to campus.

“It’s very central and it’s close to my classes,” Juarez said. “And there’s Wawa and the gym [nearby].”

For larger apartments such as triples and quads, on-campus housing can be comparable to some off-campus prices. A four-bedroom residence at the Radian, one of the costlier apartment complexes in University City, goes for $1,650 to $1,700 per month — just a couple hundred more than a four-bedroom quad in the Harnwell, Harrison and Rodin College Houses under the new pricing structure, though a lease in the Radian lasts 12 months, while one in the High Rises lasts nine, making the on-campus option less expensive overall. 

Wharton freshman David Chang is planning on living in a double in Domus next year.

“I was considering high rises, but after the price hike, me and a couple friends were considering just going off campus,” Chang said. “When we split [Domus’s rent], it’s about the same price. It’s a bit far from my classes, but it’s just a nice place to live.”

In general, Domus holds the crown for the most expensive place to live near campus. A private second story pool, a state-of-the-art gym, and luxurious spa-style bathrooms are only a few of the many amenities the apartment complex offers. Single-bedroom apartments currently listed on Domus’s website currently range from $2,405 to $2,562 per month. This is more than double the monthly lease at some college houses, and a few hundred dollars pricier than single bedrooms at The Radian.

Beyond price, a variety of other factors can prompt students to move off-campus. For College freshman Ben Chanksy, the desire to create a more personal living space played a large part in his decision to move off-campus next year.

“I think that [one] of the biggest driving factors [is] a more homey environment,” Chanksy said. “When something’s not a dorm style living facility, things aren’t as cookie-cutter, and they’re a bit more authentic.”

Similarly, Wharton freshman Marta Kowalska is living off campus next year. She has already signed a lease with one of her friends at a residence on 39th and Pine streets.

“In my case, in terms of price it’s almost the same [as on campus], but the biggest advantage is the freedom you have,” Kowalska said. “You don’t have people watching you all the time. You actually have your own house.”

Chansky agreed, saying that money isn’t always the most important factor when it comes to selecting housing.

“What you lose in money, you gain in freedom and liberty,” he said.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that the College House system will have a new rate system next year, with only two price points. The original calculations in this article were incorrectly made using the wrong lease time, and have been updated to reflect the monthly rates under the new price system for the nine-month on-campus leases. The article also now reflects that the Radian leases last 12 months, while on-campus leases last for nine months. The DP regrets the errors.

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