Living in Ithaca as a graduate student at Ithaca College
By Brandon Coon
MM Music Education, 2011
BM Music Education (Vocal) and Music Theory, 2007
Tips for finding an apartment:
South Hill is the area associated with Ithaca College (IC) and has apartments with the closest proximity to the college. If you want to be able to walk to your classes, you want to live in this area or near the Commons.
Collegetown refers to Cornell, so if you get an apartment in that area, you will be around a ton of Cornell students (who are cool). Street parking can be difficult and rent tends to be more expensive. West or North Campus refers to parts of Cornell’s campus, not IC’s. Some of the West Campus apartments are close to IC (after you cross the creek).
Downtown or the Commons (same area) is where a large number of shops, restaurants, and bars are located. Be warned that an apartment on the Commons features no parking (possibly a garage for an additional charge) and that most street parking is metered. However, if you don’t have a car, the Commons is a very central location for the bus.
Fall Creek area is a primarily residential section of Ithaca near the high school.
Cayuga Heights is a more expensive area of Ithaca with numerous rooms for rent in (especially Cornell) professor’s houses and such.
Northeast Ithaca is near the mall and can be a bit of a commute in traffic (includes parts of Lansing in many of the postings).
Northwest Ithaca is near the hospital and can also be a bit of a commute in traffic.
Danby is south of Ithaca and can be affordable but is further from the city (and from everything else, really), but relatively near IC.
Newfield, Trumansburg, Enfield, parts of Lansing, Brooktondale, and Dryden/Freeville would provide a commute of 20-30 minutes but may be less expensive. These can place you closer to some of the state parks and forests, but keep in mind the idea of having a long commute after a late concert. Dryden is close to Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3) and as such can have more expensive student housing - you can find housing for the same prices closer to campus.
Make sure you factor in snow! Check the driveway to make sure you would be able to get out if it has snowed; a steep driveway is really difficult in the snow, even if you have all-wheel drive. Ask if snow removal is part of the lease. On-street parking can also create hassles with the snow plows. (Note: I offer this observation only for people who may not have lived in snow country . . . . We’ve had numerous grad students from Texas and such.)
E-mail Les Black.
NYSEG controls the electric and gas (with prices that tend to rise in the winter months). In 2009-10, for the cold months in a two story town house, my utility bill has been about $200/month, and the house doesn’t do the best at retaining heat because of the way it was designed (quite drafty). You may want to check for drafts when you are looking at places. Consider the heat source and you can always request a quote from NYSEG based on the estimated costs of previous owners.
There are several internet/cable options in the area. Many people rely on Time Warner Cable/Roadrunner High Speed Online and after two years of service myself, I have not really experienced any issues. Depending on the apartment, you may also have to pay for water and sewage services.
T-CAT bus has routes all around Ithaca and the surrounding area. Check these before signing a lease if you are living without a car.
Some nice apartment sites:
Craigslist: Has its own Ithaca section for apartments, some great properties and some not so great…make sure you do your research.
CSP Management: CSP is a great company that supports local organizations and has been great to deal with; updates at least once a week
PPM Homes: Has excellent locations, though I have not been in them
Certified Properties of Tompkins County, Inc.: Another wonderful company to deal with; large variety of apartments available
Cornell’s Off-Campus Housing Site: IC doesn’t maintain a list, but you can always use Cornell’s listings instead
TripAdvisor has short term rentals available that may be suitable for visitors. Some of these rentals may also be available for year-round living. Here's their webpage link and a little about the company and service (from their promotional material).
TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel site, boasts more than 650,000 rental properties around the world. With a variety of options in Ithaca and surrounding areas, we have the perfect accommodations to suit your short of long-term needs. These are budget-friendly alternatives that provide the space, privacy, comfort and amenities of home. With rates starting as low as $65/night, you'll save money and get the most out of your Ithaca stay.
Apartment Pricing (updated in 2016):
As far as pricing goes, you can expect a very wide range. Shop around as much as possible. But in general, here is some idea of the pricing:
Studios and 1BR can be anywhere between $650-900 realistically. $1000 is a bit high on the price end for the area; anything more expensive had better look great (and include utilities) or it is overpriced.
You can find 2 or 3 BR apartments for $450-$600 per room (including utilities). Your place would have to be amazing if you’re paying more than $600 per room after utilities for a multiple bedroom apartment.
If you don’t mind a commute, the best prices are to be had in the surrounding areas, particularly in Newfield, Brooktondale, Lansing, Enfield, and Trumansburg.
Keep in mind, you should not have to settle for an apartment that is noticeably dirty/moldy/etc; keep looking to find a place that is habitable and welcoming, because coming back to a nice home is important and great places are out there.
If you would like help finding a roommate, email Les Black; he will distribute your request for a roommate to current and incoming music graduate students.