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Rent Apartment in Woodlawn?

solharisolhari 17 replies1 threads Junior Member
edited May 2013 in University of Chicago
Our son will soon finish his first year at UChicago. He's thriving there and loving it, but very early on he was telling us that he does not want to live in the dorms next year. Although we would have loved for him to live in the dorms for the whole four years (it seems less complicated and more sheltered that way, what more to want for your kid :-) we did not have any strong reasons to oppose his idea, so that was the plan.

The great housing deal he and his other three friends were offered fell through unexpectedly very recently, so they found themselves looking for an apartment at what seems to me to be the last minute. They found a couple, but seem to lean (because of its proximity to the campus) to one in Woodlawn, just south of 61st Street. Regents seems to them a bit far away.

I read a lot of the threads discussing neighbourhoods around UChicago, but the consensus, to my understanding, was that students (seemingly with the exception of our kid) seldom venture south of 61st Street, and do not live there. We live in a big, diverse city (but not in the US), and love city life. Our son tells me that he always feels safe in Chicago. He is city-smart, but often absent-minded (if that even makes sense.)

I looked at the apartment's location on Google Street View and it was a nice-looking building on a leafy street. I looked at the opposite side of the street and there was another nice-looking building, but all the first-floor windows were boarded. The date of the view was May 2011, but I did not see that as particularly auspicious.

Our son always asks for our opinion, so I'm trying to form an informed one before he actually sees the place tomorrow. We visited Chicago twice, briefly and mostly O-Day scripted, so based on Orientation information and this forum, we are slightly concerned about the safety of this Woodlawn location.

What would you tell him if he were your kid? Is it too late to find a decent three or preferably four bedroom apartment within the campus limits? Should they try harder (even when they should be rather studying for finals)? Should they re-consider Regents? Should we fly there and help? (We haven't visited and we're not *that* far way, and it would not be a huge deal financially.) Do parents of students usually help out with renting apartments?
edited May 2013
7 replies
Post edited by solhari on
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Replies to: Rent Apartment in Woodlawn?

  • SemperVeritasSemperVeritas 1 replies0 threads New Member
    This may be a case of the blind leading the blind---I can't provide any specific advice re the neighborhood---but I recently had a similar discussion with my kid. You or your son may want to look up the neighborhood on the Chicago Police Department's CLEARMAP---it will give you an idea of the quantity and quality of crime in the area. Your son should also consider trying to talk with someone in the UChicago Police Department.
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  • -CS-CS 232 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Fourth-year here

    I have had several friends who have lived between 61st and 62nd street and have been just fine (one friend lived between 62nd and 63rd and also never had any issues). I used to tutor down at 67th street three times per week and would go down and back just fine never concerned. If we go back a decade or two, then living south of 60th street would probably not be the smartest of moves. However, with so much happening south of the Midway between Harris, the Law School, South Campus, Logan, etc. the University has made substantial efforts to clean the area up.

    It is obviously somewhere that I would encourage people to be especially aware of their surroundings, but the UCPD patrols down to 63rd street and anything north of where the UCPD patrols tends to be quite safe. There is also the South Route shuttle which will take your son to 61st and Woodlawn if he doesn't want to walk home late at night (they run until 4am Sunday - Thursday and until 6am Friday and Saturday).

    The biggest thing I would make sure he is aware of is that there are much fewer options in terms of dining and grocery shopping down there (though, in my opinion, one of the best cafes near campus is located quite close at 63rd and Woodlawn), so he would need to be prepared for that. However, with services such as Peapod being so convenient this shouldn't be a terrible issue unless he intends to eat out every night. :)
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  • dunbardunbar 1308 replies68 threads Senior Member
    The main drawback to living south of 61st is that there's not as much going on down there. If your son had an apartment in the lower 50s, he'd be closer to food, shops, his friends' apartments, etc. But you get a lot more bang for your buck south, and some people choose to do that anyway (here's a good account of one student's experience: South of 60th | The Chicago Weekly).

    I think your son might have to be slightly more "street smart" going back home late at night, but not to the point where he'd feel uncomfortable. There are still plenty of students living down there, and two frat houses (both of which manage to attract drunken crowds late at night). Woodlawn is definitely liveable.

    On the other hand, I'm a little confused as to why you're considering Regents as the only viable alternative. Regents is pretty expensive--"bourgeois" even--and most of the students who live there are professional graduate students (Booth, law, medicine). It's not a very popular option for undergrads, and it's even further from campus. There aren't a lot of apartments left, but your son might still have some luck calling MAC. There are also realtors who typically rent to non-students, but still have apartments that's be suitable, and their properties typically open up a lot closer to move-in dates. It's also worth giving a few of them a call if your son really wants to live in Hyde Park. But there's nothing wrong with Woodlawn. If he's happy there, I wouldn't worry about it.
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  • unaloveunalove 3628 replies97 threads Senior Member

    I spent a summer living on 61st between Woodlawn and Ellis, back when the South Campus dorm was still a big hole in the ground. Even then, the area had really spruced up.

    I agree with the other recommenders- I wouldn't be as concerned with safety, per se, as proximity to groceries and Hyde Park-ness. Unless your child has a car- and if your child does have a car, I'd ask a lot of questions about safe places to park it.

    There are a lot of high-rise buildings in Hyde Park (more and more of them, it seems) that cater to a "protective parent"-- doormen, fitness centers, etc. MAC may be a place to start, also looking to see if anybody in University Park ("the toaster buildings") is subletting their condos for the year.
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  • rlmmailrlmmail 92 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Another good thing to know here is that the UChicago PD has recently released a free smart phone app. for students that essentially puts a blue light box in their hands. In addition, the app. allows students to be tracked anytime they are walking at night and then indicate when they have arrived at their destination safely. If notification is not received when expected given the students destination, then the UCPD will follow up. The app. also sets off an alarm at UCPD if, say, the student suddenly starts running.

    Perhaps the personalized overhead drone escort will be in Version 2.0. ;-)
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  • orechilsorechils 1 replies1 threads New Member
    I've lived just south of 61st and Drexel for the last three years. Personally, I haven't had any problems and have felt fairly safe (have heard plenty of gunshots, tho). Anyways, I would generally recommend staying north of 63rd and east of Drexel. However, there are some other decent places east of greenwood and north of 65th.
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  • solharisolhari 17 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Thank you all for the advice, suggestions and first-hand experience accounts. The kids are set on the apartment just south of 61st, and we agreed with my son that it was OK to move there. There is still an administrative hitch that might interfere with their choice, so they might have to continue looking. I'll let you know how it went. Thanks again for your collective wisdom.
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