When house-hunting in Morgantown, consider many options
Published: Thursday, February 24, 2011
Updated: Thursday, February 24, 2011 22:02
I have bad news: If you are reading this for advice on finding housing, it's already too late. You are condemned to the life of a collegiate vagabond next year, since lease-signing season actually begins after Thanksgiving Break in November, and most of the least-dilapidated places are taken.
However, the stars may be aligned in your favor, and there may be some available living options remaining.
Regardless, you could always use this candid guide next year, when you are sure to beat the accommodation blitz.
If you want that city-dwelling feel, you should hunt for the small number of shop-top apartments that flank High Street and its cross-streets. Classified advertisements for most of these nooks and crannies begin appearing after Christmas and run well into February.
Downtown is a mixed bag, from the recently renovated (and more expensive) "lofts" with sound-porous drywall and laminate floors to the ancient, steadfast converted offices with cracking plaster and the occasional claw-foot tub.
The convenience is calculable: seven minutes' walk from the library and seven seconds from all of the midnight action.
Everyone should spend at least one year as a Sunnyside rat, where you subsist on Rusted Musket stackers and Superette snacks, and retreat into Mutt's – a monument to generations of West Virginia University students where everyone really does know your name or at least what you drink.
But when apartment shopping in Sunnyside, nowadays you should avoid Grant Avenue to ensure the full experience.
Once legendary for day-long block parties and then infamous for incendiary post-game mob celebrations, Grant has largely been cleaned up, owing to the construction of the new Honors College, increased police vigilance and those anachronistic fake gas-lit street lights.
When choosing between somewhere quiet and somewhere lively, Grant has become something of a residential purgatory.
South Park has the advantage of being secluded, yet still close to downtown life.
Many dozen converted houses, once called home by Morgantown's industrial bourgeoisie, are now occupied by a younger, much hipper bourgeoisie (they have been listening to Arcade Fire since at least 2004).
Don't think you can just move in when you find a lease; you must be well-credentialed and have your social references in order, because being known as a South Park resident reflects many hours spent quaffing Black Labels at bars and having a closet full of the coolest thrift-store finds.
Apartments on 4th Street
This modest new building, which features the city's largest liquor store on its ground floor, sits at the bottom of Sunnyside, with a clear view of downtown straddling the bend in the Monongahela River. It has easy Rail Trail access and is a couple of blocks from campus.
Did I mention it has Ashebrooke Liquor Outlet on its ground floor?
Student housing complexes
Nondescript modular housing complexes are usually somewhere far beyond walking distance to your classes.
Take your pick: There are too many to name, and given their plentitude, they are sure to be open for all of you who have dragged your feet or held out far too long for "something unique."
They are all brand new, at least for another couple of years.
Be careful, though, as some of the older ones have fallen into disrepair and attracted residents of questionable repute – proof the only thing differentiating "student housing" from "low-income housing" is possession of a 700 number.
If you have enough friends, then you have enough couches to crash on in rotations. Beyond that, shower and bathroom needs can be met at the Student Recreation Center.
Living here grants you the opportunity to make new, well-rounded friends. The Streets are the unofficial residence of alumni of the General Studies program.
Failure to find a place to live could mean repeating life in the dorms, where you have to spend a considerable amount of time figuring out how to do all those things adults usually do almost exclusively in the privacy of the home.
It's another year of moral supervision by an army of surrogate mothers euphemistically labeled "Resident Assistants."
If you are lucky, you might be put in overflow housing with other unlucky incoming freshmen. Either way, you're going to be "that creepy old dude" at the end of the hall.