Now that the fun of admissions is out of the way, those of you who are a part of or considering being a part of McGill c/o 2009 are probably wondering about the next step, housing. So here is my exam-stupor attempt at summerizing what you need to know about housing at McGill.
Which Residence should I choose?
Each Residence or residence group at McGill is quite unique and offers a lot of different features. There are traditional residences, which are dorm style with cafeteria food, suite residences, where you live in a university owned apartment and cook for yourself, and houses, where you live in an actual house with a group of students. Some residences are single sex, some are co-ed. Some have girls wings and guys wings. So here is a list of the residences and their defining characteristics.
rideltrain can tell all about this one, as it's his. I've only been there a couple of times, so I'll tell what I can and he can verify/contradict what I say.
This rez has been a McGill residence since 2003/2004 school year. It's a converted hotel building, located on Av. du parc and Prince Arthur. Good location, between Saint-Laurent and Mcgill. It's about..I dunno, a 7-10 minute walk to campus? Around 5 short blocks. It's pretty much all flat too, which is a big perk. The outside is seriously not as ugly as it looks in the picture on the website.
It's a very nice building. The lobby is nice, the ballroom/study room is gorgeous, and the rooms are arguably the nicest McGill has to offer. There are largely double rooms but there are a few single rooms (some of these even have queen beds). Each room comes with it's own bathroom. This can be nice, but then you have to clean it too. The floors tend to be large, 50 or so people/floor or so I've heard. This doesn't foster as much floor community as in some of the other residences with a lot smaller floors. I've heard people complain about the level of partying that goes on at New Rez, as well as the feeling of being in a hotel constantly. The security to get in the place is very tight. The rez is also the most expensive of all the McGill residences..probably because of it's niceness. I've heard that there are a lot of "spoiled rich kids" in New Rez, but I would definitely take that with a grain of salt. Sure there are, but there are a few of those in every rez I'd imagine.
The meal plan is different from the other traditional residences. It's a declining-balance type, which means you get a certain number of "meal points" at the beginning of the year, and you can use those however you see fit but once they're gone, they're gone. The food I've heard is better at the New rez cafeteria, more options. Plus you can use the card at any of the Chartwell's sponsored places on campus, such as the restaurants under the library.
Major Plusses: Nice rooms, flat walk, nice mealplan
Major minuses: Cost, not as much "community", not exactly with the rest of the campus, "party atmosphere?"
Royal Victoria College
McGill's all womens dorm. I say that, and I watch everyone scroll down to read the next residence report. No! Wait!! RVC isn't anywhere near as bad as the "all girls residence" stereotype. And it also happens to be my rez, so perhaps I have a soft spot for it
The major perk to RVC is it's location. It's the closest McGill residence to campus, within a ten minute walk to anywhere on campus. Also it's connected to the music building, so if you have any courses there, you don't even have to go outside to go to class. Basically, location wise it's amazing because it's in the downtown on the corner of University and Sherbrooke, so you're near shopping and everything too.
RVC is divided up into two parts, the west wing and the tower. The west wing (whenever I say this, I think Beauty and the Beast...) is the older part of the dorm and the rooms in this part are bigger than any residence other than New Rez. My friend's room has a walk in closet, too. The tower rooms are all singles except for 2nd floor, and though they're smaller than the west rooms they're about the size of the other singles in the traditional residences. They come with more storage than a human being could ever need--the desk unit is pretty cool. Compared to the other residence rooms, they are longer and narrower. You have a lot of wall space. All the rooms, like the other McGill rooms, come with a mini fridge. On every other floor there are little kitchenettes and laundry is every 4 floors in the tower. Given the choice if you were applying to RVC I would probably request West Wing.
People tend to be very deterred by the words "Girl's residence". I hear all sorts of reasons why people don't like girls residences and a lot of them are based on misunderstandings. The atmosphere is a lot of fun. For one thing, it's nice to be able to stumble down to breakfast in pajamas and no makeup andnot have to worry about that hot guy you like seeing you. Bathrooms are always kept clean. Floors are small, the sense of community is good. OK, you will have to look to other places to meet guys, this is true, and the ones you see inside RVC are usually taken There are plenty of places to meet guys though. And the residence isn't as catty as you'd think for it being all girls. It's not as big a party place as some of the others. Only a couple floors get drunk on a regular basis...most are quiet and more studious.
The meal plan is traditional, there is a cafeteria in the building that has a better selection of food than the cafs also on the traditional mealplan. RVC students also have the ability to eat in the BMH or the Douglas Hall cafeterias if they so choose. The only difference is that RVC we get meals 7 days a week while BMH/Douglas only get meals 5 days a week (no weekend meals). Caf hours are limited, not open all the time like New Rez but you are guaranteed your meals for the semester, you don't have to worry about running out of minutes at the end.
Major plusses: Location!, nice rooms, nice food for trad. style, good sense of community, can usually have quiet to study if you want
Major minuses: all girls dorm (though I personally see this as a plus, I didn't when I applied), rooms older, not as flexible a meal plan.
Upper Residences (McConnell Hall, Molson Hall, and Gardner Hall)
These are called the BMH residences, for Bishop Mountain Hall, which is the name of the central round structure that the residences surround. All these halls are virtually identical, which is why they are grouped together
They are located up the infamous hill. However, this hill isn't as bad as some make it out to be in summer. In winter, there is a period of time where it can be pretty darn nasty because of ice. However, living there is a great way to ward off the freshman 15! McConnell is the first one you come to, then Molson. Gardner is a little bit further up the hill (1 staircase further). BMH is the cafeteria and it's located in the center between those three buildings (on level with Molson, up a staircase from McConnell, down a staircase from Gardner) so you have to go outside, albeit not by very much, in order to eat.
All rooms are singles except for a few doubles (I believe the ratio is 80/20), and are your most traditional dormitory styles, sqarish shaped, twin bed, closet, desk unit, dresser, yep. If you've seen a dorm room you probably have a pretty good idea of what the residence rooms look like. Most of the rooms have beautiful views, whether overlooking Parc Mont Royal, or the downtown skyline. My (jewish) friend has a teriffic view of the cross from his window. If that's not irony i don't know what is...but moving on. All three dorms are coed, though McConnell is single sex wings. This means you go up the stairs and there are doors on each side of the stairs. One leads to the "girls side" and the other to the "guys side". There are bathrooms on each side, and one tends to be the girls and the other the guys, though there are no rules about this. There is a kitchenette on every floor, i think and every room comes equipped with a mini fridge.
Meal plan is the standard one. Residents eat at BMH, though a lot of times they'll eat lunch at RVC because it's close to classes. They can also eat at Douglas Hall. They do not get weekend meals.
Major Plusses: Most traditional of residences, coed, great view, cheapest trad. dorms
Major Minuses: The hill in winter, not the nicest of rooms, long lines for lunch/dinner because three residences dump into one cafeteria
The last of the "Traditional" McGill residences, Douglas is very very pretty. It's up the hill, but not as far as Upper Residences. It's right above the stadium. Inside is nice too. Their grand salon is beautiful with a piano. It's divided up into Houses, so you have A house through H house, the houses are connected via tunnels. Each floor has a common room and some floors have study rooms. Rooms are smaller than BMH rooms but tend to be nicer (hardwood floors!). You don't have the large windows that the other dorms do, however. The douglas community is supposed to be very nice and close. Doubles and singles are available though more singles than doubles.
Their cafeteria freaking looks like Hogwarts. I am serious. A high table, with three (OK, so not exactly like hogwarts) long tables stretched out. They have a cappucino machine too, which I am in love with. Food is the same in quality as RVC/BMH, not as big a selection but still pretty good, plus Doug residents can eat at the other two cafs. It's fully coed, girls and guys on the same floor. They have a full kitchen too, in the hall between the houses.
Major Plusses: Nice residence, nice rooms, nice common room, etc, good sense of community
Major Minuses: smaller rooms, kind of a cramped feeling sometimes, darker rooms (some of them)
Ok, moving on to the nontraditional residences...Solin Hall used to be a chocolate factory (too cool..) but was bought by McGill not long ago. It's out near Atwater, a metro ride or 30 minute walk away from school. Rooms are suite style--3 people to a room, three small bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a living room, and a kitchen. Also big nice windows. No meal plan provided, you have to cook for yourself. Generally there's a good sense of community at Solin because the people that move in there are pretty responsible, and the community is tight because of their distance from school. You're a two minute walk from the metro, so that is how most students travel to school and back.
Major Plusses: A more apartment style feel, you aren't subjected to cafeteria food, the rooms are nice generally, you buy the monthly metro pass so you can travel freely around montreal.
Major Minuses: A lot of variation in room size, you gotta cook, you should allow 30 minutes between leaving rez and arriving at your class, you have to be out of downtown before the metro closes or else you're stuck walking or taking a cab.
I don't know too much about these. They are apartment style, you share them with one other person. They're located on University street and are the 2nd closest residence (other than RVC) to campus. The room styles are a bit weird, I've heard, in that they house two people but one person's bedroom is in what would normally be the living room of an apartment. They all have balconies though, so they'd be a good choice for someone who wanted an apartment style living arrangement close to campus. I haven't actually been inside Greenbriar however, so I can't say much about it.
Major plusses: Close to campus, share with only one other person, ability to cook, deck
Major Minuses: no meal plan, awkward room layout (this is on hearsay).
Chances are your first year, you won't know anyone living in a MORE house. They are rare, rare animals. Yet, here is the little I know about them. They are fully furnished large houses scattered around the McGill area. They house 8-12 students. Some rooms are doubles, others singles. There is great variation, as you probably imagine, in room size and layout. ALl houses come with 1 or 2 bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room, some have a basement/office type space, they are very nice. You don't have floor fellows persay like you do in the other residences, there is one MORE fellow for all the MORE houses, or so I have heard. I'm not sure. All the houses are coed except for one that is all female. I'd imagine it would be an opportunity to be very close to people, however if there was someone you couldn't stand it'd be harder to avoid them as well.
Plusses: Relatively close to campus, a very tight knight atmosphere with others in your house, you have an actual house complete with full kitchen
Minuses: you're isolated from the McGill community in residences except for the others in your house, it's kind of an unknown quantity what size/shape room you'll be in.
Most McGill Rooms are singles, with the exception of New Rez and Greenbriar and some of the MORE houses
McGill residences come in both apartment style and traditional style residences
There really isn't a "Bad" residence, a lot of it depends on what sort of person you are
OK, that about covers the residence options you have if you're living in McGill residences. So now the question a lot of people are asking is, What do I do know? I have an idea of what rez I'd like to be in, but how do I go about getting into that residence?
Coming soon on Minerva should be a residence application form. It lists all the residences in a format like this:
New Residence Single
New Residence Double
Solin Single (keep in mind solin single means a single room in a suite of 3 people)
you get the idea. You then will rank the residences in the order of your preference. Your list could look something like this:
1.New Residence Single Room
2.Douglas Single Room
3.Royal Victoria College Single room
4.New Residence Double room
5.Solin Hall single room
6.MORE House # whatever the number is Single room
etc. You rank them all, from your favourite to least favourite. Then you pay your $1,000 deposit, and wait.
If you are a scholarship student, it ends for you here. You are 99.99999% guaranteed to get your first choice, since scholarship students' applications have residence priority to all the students offered regular admission.
The Residence system is decided via lottery. Don't panic--this does NOT mean that they place students into residences based on a random draw. What this means is that the ORDER in which applications are viewed is based on a random draw--IE, the date you apply for residence does not affect whether or not you will get your first choice residence.
The way it goes is something like this. Say your lottery number is #500 (I'm just making numbers up). That means, 499 applications, not counting the scholarship applicants, will be viewed ahead of yours. They will look at your requests and start with your first choice residence. If that is full, they will scan down your list and put you in the first residence they come to that is not full. Therefore, it is extremely likely you will get put into your first choice of residence.
The only residence that is extremely competitive for admission is New Rez. If applying for New Rez, make sure that you pay careful attention to your 2nd and third choice residences, just in case.
They also have other options--do you smoke, not smoke, are you messy/tidy/average, morning or night person. Then they ask you to pick three words to describe yourself. These words are not used to determine what residence you get into, but rather once you've been placed in a residence, the dons and such get together and go through reading everyone's three words, and that's how they put together the floors (they try to put people with similar personalities together).
You cannot find out via minerva which residence you got into. There is a date when they make decisions. You can call and if you get a nice person they will tell you. They mail out a big package with a "Living in residence" booklet and information, plus a copy of your lease. You can sign it and mail it back, or sign it and give it tothem when you arrive.
You have a lot of freedom on the application to specify where you want to live
The lottery system only decides the order your application is viewed in, NOT which rez you get put in to
You are very likely going to get into your top rez, or if not that, one of your top three choices.
The "Three words to describe yourself" are used to determine which floor you'll be on and with what other students.
Speaking of when you arrive...
You can move in on the first day of your lease. It is before the start of frosh, like 3rd week in August or something. If you need to move in earlier, call the residence people and try to make arrangements. Otherwise, if coming up with a parent crash in their hotel room until move in day, and then move into the dorm.
If you reallllly don't like your residence....
There is an option to transfer residences after being here for a couple weeks. There is some turnover, so it's not unheard of. Obviously applying for something like a New Rez single is going to have a limited chance of success, but still, generally residence transfers are successful. Though most of the time people get settled in and come to like their rez, even if they weren't sure about it in the beginning.
you can move in on the first day your lease begins
you can just bring the lease back with you to Montreal
if you really don't like your rez you can request a rez transfer after a couple of weeks
I think that just about covers it.
Anything I missed, feel free to ask!
is the caf food any good at BMH/Douglas/RVC? The freshman 15..is that mostly due to the amount people end up eating or the quality of the food? And on the weekends when you have to cook for yourself at BMH and Douglas, do you have to bring your own pots, pans, and other kitchenware? In the coed residences, are the bathrooms coed too?
I heard that you can get bagged lunches from Douglas or the BMH residences so that you don't have to go to the caf for lunch. What about New Rez? I doubt people normally go back just for lunch? Can the meal card for New be used at any of the other residences? Would you say that having a double room gives you a better opportunity to make a really close friend more easily because you have to share a living space?
Roommates: You can find out ahead of time, a couple weeks or so before you move in, I believe. You'd have to call McGill residences and hopefully they can tell you. They don't send out any letter though with your roomie's name on it, so you'd have to call them
Caf food: It's not bad, actually. There's usually always a healthy option and there's full salad bar. It isn't all you can eat style, which helps for the freshman fifteen. If you live at Douglas or BMH, the freshman fifteen won't be a concern for you When you have to cook for yourself you are on your own for kitchenware, meaning silverware, bowels, etc. However the dollar store has a good supply of basic cooking stuff, so it won't cost you terribly. If you have it, bring it.
At Molson and Gardner the bathrooms are coed too. McConnell they can be coed but generally the girls use the one on their part of the hall, and the guys use theirs. Douglas the bathrooms are coed.
From Doug, BMH, or RVC you can get bagged lunches. Pretty sweet deal. New Rez you cannot to my knowledge, however their caf is open like from 7 am to 8 at night. and you can eat on campus at any of the restaurants that are sponsored by chartwells (a fair number of the restauransts) which is what New Rez kids do for lunch if they don't have a large break between classes.
New Rez mealcard only is valid at new rez and the locations on campus. It can't be used at the other residences, at least not at this time.
As for the double room, hard to say. In New Rez a lot of the rooms are doubles so you might be isolated in a single, but I doubt it. in the other residences basically all the rooms are singles so it's not that big a deal. I've heard both sides of the roommate thing. Some people become really close, while others have issues, or tolerate one another but aren't friends. I think that the casual acquaintance relationship with roommates is the most common, actually. I went for a single room, and personally would advise others to do the same. That way you can be social and have good relationships with those on your floor, but you can still have some privacy.
New Rez cafeteria- you can take anything TO GO which is essentially better than a brown bag lunch- haha. Just to tempt you all with the options of food at New Rez cafeteria:
Sushi, Filet Mignon, Shark Steak, Belgian Waffles, Hagen Datz ice cream bars, Slush Puppies, Cappucinos, Stir Fry, etc.
New Rez certainly has a lot of options- and its pretty good quality. You can use your mealplan card anywhere on campus: Bronfman (which has amazing sandwiches!), Trottier, Education, Redpath, Stewart Bio, McGill Bookstore (Starbucks coffee)... yeah its nice.
The community at New Rez is pretty tight for each floor- you get pretty close to them all- I had the most amazing floor this year.
Once your Rez has been chosen for you, they will send you an online survey to fill out which will help them pick which floor/roommmate you'll be assigned to- the survey asks a lot of questions so you're likely to be paired with people who you'll get along with.
sounds like the food's expensive at new rez. are you likely to run out of points and can you put more in if you finish? does everyone start off with the same number of points or can people choose how much to put in? I'm just kind of worried that if I run out of points I'll have to worry about putting more money in. At least with the other residences most of it is covered.
the nicer stuff is more pricey- therefore you'll run out of meal plan fast- but you can fill it up- but some of my friends have never filled it up and they still have hundreds of dollars left on their cards! (which makes me feel gross- because I've added money to my card twice so far- I must eat a lot) But really if you're a light eater you'll be fine... if you enjoy eating a steak everday like me then you'll run out of money fast... i learned my lesson.
Your lease for most residences runs from sometime mid august to April 30th. Don't worry about this. Last day of exams is a couple days before that, so you will be done with everything school related by then.
If you're in Solin Hall or a MORE house your lease runs august/august, meaning you have to sublet your room out for the summer. They have info workshops on how to do this, and try and help you out with the process. but it's something you should be aware of if you're going to apply there.