Reasonable rentals off campus
by Catherine Szabo
In the past three years, Samantha Murdock, a business student, has moved six times between Mount Royal University residence and her hometown of Edmonton. Her roommate, Lisa Stevens, has moved five times between Calgary and her hometown of Crossfield, Alta.
This year, both women decided to live off campus together, after previously being roommates in residence housing.
“I didn’t want to continue moving,” Stevens, an anthropology student, said in an email. “I wanted a place of my own to do whatever I want with: move furniture around, have animals.”
Murdock said that while the basics were provided in residence, she still had a lot of belongings to move.
“Because I don’t have a car, my parents helped me move the first three times, and after that it’s all been based on whoever can help,” Murdock said, noting that she has “piles and piles of books.”
When looking for a place near Mount Royal, Stevens looked at basement suites on 37th Street, Marda Loop apartments, and the condos across the west soccer fields. In the end, her parents bought one of those condos across the west fields, an option originally out of Stevens’ budget.
She said her parents saw it as a good investment, since the area will probably remain in high demand for future students and can be resold.
The keywords “Mount Royal College” brought back 299 hits on rentfaster.ca, some of which refer to the inner-city neighbourhood and not the institution.
However, within those 299 hits are 44 listings for single bedroom places, with an average monthly rent of $803. The 51 two-bedroom listings average about $1,082 per month. The results did not divide listings according to how utilities would be paid.
In residence, utilities, cable TV, Internet and local phone service are included in the cost of rent.
Fees for residence — which are paid at the same time as tuition — are individual and determined by the number of bedrooms. A four-bedroom apartment is $2,446 per semester, equivalent to $611 monthly. A two-bedroom costs $2,659 per semester, equivalent to $664 monthly, and a one-bedroom apartment costs $3,441 per semester, which averages out to $860 per month.
Students who work as resident advisors are paid $615 monthly, a wage that may play a role in determining whether a student can afford to live in residence.
Considering that rent for a two-bedroom apartment off-campus would be split between two roommates, there is a difference of $100 less for an off-campus apartment, before accounting for utilities.
The Residence Services website lists everything there is to know about residence living, and explains that if a student wishes to live with certain people, it must be specified by both parties.
Both Murdock and Stevens said that one of the pros of living on campus was meeting more people, and Stevens added that they no longer have security to call if there is an issue.
“Living learning commun-ities” are set up in residence to allow students to live in a community where their neighbours and roommates share common interests. There are seven communities listed, and the academic, nursing, and sports and recreation/wellness communities usually have waiting lists, said Natasha Reynolds, assistant manager of Residence Services.
The Aboriginal living learning community is home to a family-housing pilot project, though Mount Royal does not offer any other family housing.
A partnership between the school and Boardwalk Rental Communities exists as an option for students with families.
Communities can be created as per student demand, Reynolds said, noting plans to create a “global community” where international and Canadian students can live together.
Stevens said that if she hadn’t found a place within walking distance and had to deal with transit or driving, she wasn’t sure if it would be worth it to move out of residence.
“Given that school is only about four years long, the cons of living on campus may be worth the location,” she said. Some of the disadvantages on campus include loud people coming home from the bar, sharing a small common area with three other people, easy distraction from homework, having to move back and forth, and paying for parking.
Murdock said that if she were to do it again, she would probably still live in residence for her first year.
“It really felt that once I moved off campus, I really understood what independence was,” Murdock said. “Res’ is like a baby step.”