Students drawn to off-campus housing

Despite Yale’s much touted residential college system, more Yalies seem to be making the move off campus.

According to students and surrounding businesses, New Haven is becoming a more attractive option for Yalies — and Lynwood Place, Park Street, Dwight Street, Howe Street, High Street and Chapel Street are increasingly popular locations for student housing. Students cited Yale’s improved town-gown relations and the expense of Yale dining as the key factors in this trend.

Certain residential colleges, like Ezra Stiles, had increased numbers of students living off campus this year, according to Rachel Yost-Dubrow ’16, a master’s aid in Stiles.

Apartment complexes saw more business this year. Arnie Lehrer, who runs Arnold Lehrer Properites, a small firm that rents only to Yale students, said this year has been “a banner year” for his company. Even though he rents to undergraduates less than he used to due to noise complaints, Lehrer said this year has been his company’s most successful to date.

The majority of students interviewed gave standard reasons for their off campus move, from the desire to get away from dining halls to increased independence.

For Sophie Mendelson ’15, being off Yale’s meal plan is an opportunity to cook on her own; she called not having a kitchen a “huge drawback” of being on campus. Likewise, Grace Steig ’15 said cooking herself allows her to save money. Steig said that, being vegan, cooking on her own is a huge plus, and that she enjoys being free to cook what she pleases.

Yalies also said they benefit from separating their school and home lives.

Chris Rodelo ’15 said that living off campus allowed him to “have some distance from Yale.”

“It makes the school-home divide a lot more concrete,” he said. “I know I can walk off campus and I can disengage.”

New Haven’s revitalization has also played a central role, said Nick Defiesta ’14, who lives on Howe Sreet and is a former city editor for the News, and currently writes a city-focused column for the News. While Defiesta added he could not detect larger trends on whether or not more Yalies were moving off campus, there was no question in his mind that the city’s recent gentrification has played a role in the growth of available neighborhoods.

“As New Haven has gotten better, living off campus has seemed less scary,” he said.

Alexander Co ’15 said that, while New Haven’s revitalization may have had some “unconscious” impact on his decision to live off campus, it was not something he explicitly thought about during the move.

However, most Yalies who live off campus do not live far away. Chris Rodelo ’15 said that some off-campus living still feels like it is on Yale’s campus.

“I don’t think there’s a big distinction to be made,” he said.

Ten of Yale’s 12 residential college deans did not return request for comment. The other two — Morse College Dean Joel Silverman and Saybrook College Dean Christine Muller — declined to comment.

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