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Students explore off-campus housing

Melissa Flanagan | Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Many sophomore students are beginning to think about an issue that, to many, is far in the future: off-campus housing for senior year.

With a variety of options such as an apartment at Irish Row, a townhouse in Legacy Village or a house through Kramer Properties or one of the other local landlords, students are moving fast in order to secure their top choice of homes.

Dave Kohlsaat, one of the owners of Legacy Village, said one reason students sign leases so early is because of the influx of quality homes that are springing up around Notre Dame.

“This is our second year at Legacy,” Kohlsaat said. “We have a very unique product, brand new, fully-furnished, top-line amenities. When people hear of it, they tend to move sooner.”

According to Kohlsaat, Legacy Village is completely booked for the 2011-12 school year and he believes it will soon be full for the 2012-13 academic year.

“We were booked almost a year ago, probably by last December 1 [for the 2011-12 school year],” Kohlsaat said. “For the sophomores, I am 40 percent leased right now and I would again presume that probably no later than Christmas I will be fully booked.”

Sophomore Lisa Daul said students should start thinking about living off-campus depending on where he or she wants to live.

“At first we wanted to live in a house, so we started looking at properties earlier this year,” Daul said. “We heard that the good houses are the first things to go. But now we’re leaning toward a town home in Lafayette [Square], so we figure we have a little more time.”

Mark Kramer, owner of Kramer Properties, which includes and assortment of living options including houses and Lafayette Square, said his statistics reveal the same information.

“The houses we have are 80 percent leased for next year,” Kramer said. “For Lafayette we’re about 40 percent leased for next year, so there’s still a lot available, but that’s normal.”

Kramer said 12 of his houses have already been leased for the 2012-2013 school year, but Lafayette and the apartments both won’t be pre-leased until much later.

“Usually houses are the first thing to go, then the townhouses come in second, then the apartments a little later,” Kramer said.

Sophomore Mike Cochran made his move early in the year to ensure that he would be able to lease the house of his choice.

“I signed my lease for senior year the first week of October,” Cochran said. “I wanted to get one of the best off-campus houses.”

Cochran, who currently lives off campus, said although he misses the day-to-day interaction with a lot of people in the dorms, he is happy with his decision.

“There’s a lot more freedom and customization of your living,” Cochran said. “What is most appealing to me is having my own room. It provides me with the necessary privacy to sleep and do my work without being disturbed.”

The desire for fewer rules is a dominant theme among students who live or plan to live off campus. Chrissie Gotimer, a senior currently living in a house, said that freedom was a considerable factor for her and her friends.

“I moved off campus because most of my friends, including myself, wanted to move off,” Gotimer said. “We anticipated wanting a change of scenery from the dorms and a little more freedom.”

Niall Fitzgerald, a junior who signed a lease as a sophomore to live in Legacy Village for the 2011-12 academic year, shared sentiments similar to those expressed by Cochran and Gotimer.

“While I enjoy life in Dillon Hall, as a 21-year-old senior next year I do not wish to be bound by many of the rules associated with living in the dorms,” Fitzgerald said.

While some students believe living off campus may cause a sense of detachment from Notre Dame, Gotimer said she feels her experience enabled her to connect with the University in different ways.

“I’ve found that moving off campus has heightened my appreciation of campus,” she said. “It’s forced me to utilize many of the resources on campus that I otherwise would have likely never considered using.”

The real downside for Gotimer was the addition of many new responsibilities.

“I have to be more aware of my surroundings and be responsible for not violating my housing contract,” Gotimer said. “I have to be very aware that I lock my car and house every day when I leave for class. Furthermore, I have to be responsible for paying all my bills on time.”