The construction for Southside Commons located on the corner of Brodhead and West Packer avenues officially began March 1, 2018. This new housing option is a part of the Path to Prominence.(Ada Tao/B&W Staff)

Students weigh in on more expensive off-campus living options

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On the corner of Brodhead and West Packer avenues is the construction site of SouthSide Commons, a 144-apartment complex expected to open next fall.

Though construction, which started on March 1, 2018, is not yet complete, students planning to rent apartments in SouthSide Commons said they are drawn to the newness of the building and its amenities. The SouthSide Commons’ website advertises its spacious floor plans, brand new furniture and Tempur-Pedic mattresses.

After finding out in June that she wouldn’t be able to live off campus her junior year, Hannah Kushner, ’21, waited until the SouthSide Commons office opened so she could explore the new option.

Kushner opted out of on-campus housing, as she said she had bad experiences with it in the past. She sent in her application to the SouthSide Commons office and has already signed her lease for fall 2019.

“I think it’s going to help me ease the transition to living off campus because (I won’t be) suddenly in a house by myself,” Kushner said. “My friends are living on Birkel (Avenue), so this is going to be really convenient for me to still be near them but have my own space.”

The cost of living in the SouthSide Commons varies. Based on the prices listed on its website, the most basic apartment — a 322-square-foot studio apartment — would cost $11,810 for an academic year. The largest apartment, which includes four bedrooms and two bathrooms, would cost $10,690 per person for an academic year, or $42,760 for all four students.

According to Lehigh Finance & Administration, on-campus apartment-style housing in Farrington Square or Sayre Park costs $9,230 for an academic year.

While SouthSide Commons proves to be a more expensive housing option, some students find it worthwhile to pay a higher price for what the building will offer.

Julia Pardee, ’21, sees the price as one of the only downsides to choosing the SouthSide Commons, but she is still willing to pay it.

“I think a lot of the off-campus housing is variable price for what they’re offering since the demand is high, and I know SouthSide Commons is still probably overpriced,” Pardee said. “I definitely think the value is more worth it.”

Kushner said she also sees the price as a premium on privacy.

Sara Kozlu, ’20, decided as early as spring 2018 to live in SouthSide Commons her senior year.

“For me, personally, I feel like it’s a really safe option because it’s kind of similar to on-campus housing,” Kozlu said. “Also, it’s right near all my classes, so that was really nice for me too, because I know sometimes you can end up living far off campus and then that’s difficult to get to class.”

Other students are still choosing to live on campus. Reagan Sullivan, ’20, lives in Farrington Square and plans to live there her senior year.

“I’m just so happy in (Farrington) Square that I really don’t feel the need to live off campus,” Sullivan said. “I just like being so close to campus. It’s too convenient to get out.”

After living in Brodhead House during her sophomore year, Sullivan says she felt far removed and found it difficult to see her friends who lived in other parts of campus. Sullivan feels she would experience the same issue living in SouthSide Commons.

“I just didn’t want to live that far off campus even though technically it’s still very close,” Sullivan said. “In (Farrington) Square I get a single…You’d never guess that you have three other people living with you.”

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