Neil Building Graduate Housing at Ohio State

One of the things that I worried about the most when coming to Columbus was where I was going to live. Upon submitting my intent to enroll in the SMF program, I was given a comprehensive list of nearby apartments with monthly rental rates and reviews from past student residents, which I found extremely helpful. Knowing that I was not making the drive to Columbus from San Francisco, I focused on a place within walking distance to the Fisher College of Business. I initially considered Fisher Commons, which is a relatively new complex with well appointed kitchen amenities that is a short fifteen minute walk to campus. The only drawback for me was that the apartments were not furnished. The last thing I wanted to worry about at the end of the program was how to get rid of my old mattress.

Neil Graduate Housing

Since I probably cannot bum rides from friends all the time, I had to make sure restaurants and grocery stores were also within walking distance. After looking over the various locations, I decided on the Neil Building Graduate housing. Located at the corner of Neil Avenue and West 10th Avenue, the graduate housing is a twenty minute casual stroll to Fisher College of Business. CVS pharmacy is half a block away for the occasional allergy relief or late night munchies. A Kroger grocery store is also close by on East 7th Avenue and High Street (about a ten minute walk).

However, to add icing on the cake, the best part of the Neil Building by far is the Marketplace located on the street level. The Marketplace is an OSU dining food court that serves pizza, salad, pasta, sushi, Asian stir-fry, and my favorite, the Memphis BBQ beef brisket grilled panini. In addition, there is a VIP access door that connects the rest of the building to the Marketplace. I love how I can go downstairs to grab a quick bite without dealing with the outside elements, especially on a rainy or snowy winter day! How’s that for awesomeness?

BBQ brisket panini hot off the grill!

Make your apartment feel like home

Finding a place to live is a big deal for any grad student. More than likely you will sign a year-long lease because short-term rentals are costly. You will pay extra $ per month for short-term rentals, otherwise landlords will forfeit a security deposit for breaking a lease early. Make sure you read a rental agreement closely and ask lots of questions before putting down a deposit.

Since I was looking for a place where I can stay for four years, I visited Columbus many times to check out various neighborhoods and rental properties. This site is a great one-stop source for off-campus housing near OSU. Craigslist and are other good options. Also, there are several great blogs on how to choose the right place, written by other student bloggers.


I wanted to live close to OSU campus. However, there are some “party houses” close to the campus. If you see lots of beer bottles strewn about, you should stay away from those places. (unless you are interested in partying from Thursday afternoon to Monday morning)


My husband and I have a house in the suburb of Cincinnati, which is an hour and half away. Since I go home on the weekends and for holidays, there was no reason to get an expensive apartment. I wanted a small one-bedroom or an efficiency under $550.


Finding a safe neighborhood is crucial. It gets dark early during winter, so stick with well-lit streets. Speak to people who live there, do they feel safe?

Luckily, I found a studio apartment on N 4th Street. All utilities are included in the monthly rent – no high heating bills when the cold weather arrives. Plus, locked entries and free wireless internet!! I moved in and started decorating right away.

Tips on decorating your apartment

  • Use color – Color is the easiest way to decorate your rooms. Pick one color as a base and add two to three coordinating (or contrasting) colors for vibrancy.
  • Be comfortable -Cozy throws and large cushions are good, but banish unnecessary clutters.
  • Show off your collectibles – Are you a Star Wars fan? College Football mania? Whatever your interests are, dedicate a space to display a collection.
  • Bring a little bit of home – Something to remind you of home, such as favorite photos.
  • Pick up essentials – Computer, printer, microwave, bed, desk, chairs… the list goes on and on. My bed is from Sleep Well Columbus; Desk and chairs are from Ikea. Most of decorations are from local thrift stores like Ohio Thrift, Village Discount Outlet, and New Uses General Store.

End results…

Union Jack from ebay, poster from a local craft store.
Library in the background is vintage bookshelf wallpaper.



Where to live?

I chose to live off campus because I already had a house in the Columbus area in the suburb of Worthington. Worthington is located roughly 8 miles north of The Fisher College of Business. In making the decision about where to live, there are several important factors to consider when choosing a housing option.

  1. How do you want to get to campus? If you’re interested in walking or riding a bicycle to campus, it’s probably not a good idea to live far off campus. The weather in Columbus can sometimes be enough of a deterrent against riding a bicycle, but we do have a nice time frame of fair weather. Something to keep in mind – many students will be in business casual daily, often business professional attire. I don’t want to ruin a suit or cause an excessive increase in my dry-cleaning bill! Parking is easily accessible around the Fisher campus and is pretty reasonable in terms of affordability. Keep in mind that there are also motorcycle parking lots, bicycle racks, etc.
  2. Class/Group Implications. Nearly every single class within the MBA program in the initial term has some aspect of group work. In addition, most students get involved with student organizations and opportunities for other extracurricular. That being said, if you’re going to travel to campus more than once a day – driving each time can get pricey. If you live far off campus, like me, you may not have a choice. No one wants to be a slave to the gas pump, especially on a student budget.
  3. Fisher Commons. The Fisher Commons is an apartment complex which is designed primarily for students of the Fisher College of business. Although I do not have the statistics, many students choose to live at Fisher Commons. Arguably the largest attraction – many students/classmates live at Fisher Commons.  If you have a homework/study question, it’s just a walk across the hall to a classmate. It’s also a natural social hub for events like tailgate events, parties, etc. There are certainly perks.  However, there is a price to pay for the convenience. Fisher Commons is expensive, with many substitutes within the marketplace being 20-30% less.
  4. Neighborhood Personalities. Many surrounding neighborhoods within the Columbus market have their own flavor and personality.
    • Dublin, Powell, Worthington and Westerville comprise the northern portion of the Columbus suburbs. These communities provide great school systems and are very family friendly, generally having a small town feel. The pace slows in the evenings, and these areas are generally quiet all day/night.
    • Clintonville, “The Short North”, Italian Village, Victorian Village, and German Village are very popular among young urban dwellers. These neighborhoods have a rich, diverse history and are vibrant in terms of nightlife and dining options.
    • Campus Area properties are generally going to have an “undergrad” feel.  Although locations may be convenient, the Friday/Saturday parties and traffic congestion may detract for some people. These rentals will often be the most affordable option.

In the end, this is just a snapshot of what options and amenities are available around the Columbus area and is by no means intended to be exhaustive. Where anyone chooses to live is ultimately a personal decision, likely to include consideration of several of the above factors. Do your research and make a decision that’s best for you. In the end, remember that you’ll literally have to live with whatever choice that you make for at least a year.

Living in the University District: Pros and Cons

I’m not from Columbus originally,  but I have pretty good knowledge of the city and surrounding area from the eight months I lived here during an internship. So even though I love the Short North and my former neighborhood of German Village, and I have friends living in Grandview and Clintonville, I picked an apartment in the University District.

I call my part of town “north campus” when I describe it to my classmates, but technically it’s “University District 1,” or to be less Hunger Games about it, “Old North Columbus.”

Talking to my fellow MBA students at Fisher, I’ve found that most of them either live at Fisher Commons, the apartment complex specifically for Fisher students, or in nearby neighborhoods and suburbs like Grandview, Victorian Village or Easton. A few also live in the University District (“UD”), but it’s not many.

Obviously living in the UD is not for everyone. For instance, those with partners and families might be better suited to the quieter suburban areas rather than the thick undergraduate culture near campus. And those who need a yard for pets won’t find many options where I live and could opt for more green space in a different part of town. I would never try to convince people who are happily living in a different part of town that they should move closer to campus, but I still love my apartment and enjoy my neighborhood. So now that I’ve been living here for about a month and a half, I came up with a handy list the benefits and drawbacks of living in the University District to help future students decide if living near campus would work for you.


  1. Travel time– After dealing with rush hour traffic for the last two years as I drove 30 minutes to and from work, I didn’t want to spend another two years driving 20-30 minutes into campus every day. That’s time in the morning that I could use for an extra half hour of sleep, and I always need more sleep. Plus, the frustration of sitting in traffic is now replaced with exercise and fresh air as I ride my bike or walk the 5 blocks to Fisher. When one of my teammates was 15 minutes late to Marketing class last week, he told me that it took him nearly an hour to drive in from Easton that morning because of all the traffic. “How long does it take you to get here?” he asked me. “About six or seven minutes,” I said. He shook his head in disbelief.
  2. Travel cost– I drive a relatively fuel-efficient car, but as I learned from my previous commute, even at 27 mpg I was using 3/4 of my tank on just my commute. It was almost 300 miles a week! Add in the milage on my already 100,000+ car and the pricey parking passes and I knew I’d be saving a lot of cash living close enough to walk or ride my bike.
  3. Rent prices– Before I’d officially decided to live near campus, I researched apartments all over town and found that most of them were outside my price range. Yes, Victorian Village and The Short North are awesome areas with nice places to live, but $900 a month for a 1-bedroom was breaking the bank for me. I don’t plan on having a job for my first semester and possibly first year of my MBA, so I’m probably on a tighter budget than most. Knowing that I could live for cheaper while being closer to school made living in the University District especially attractive.
  4. Restaurant and bar options– As you’ll see below, I’m cheating a little and including this as a pro and con, since there are good and bad aspects. One of the good parts of living in such a student-concentrated area is the huge number of food and drink options within walking or biking distance. Not just all the college staples like McDonalds, Cane’s, Jimmy Johns and Pita Pit, but awesome authentic ethnic choices for Indian, Korean, Greek, Chinese and Mexican cuisine. One of my favorite restaurants in the whole city, Taj Mahal, is four blocks from my apartment, which is wonderful and dangerous at the same time. This is also true for bars. There are dozens of sports bars to choose from, if that’s your thing, but there are also cool dive bars and even some more upscale options nearby as well.


  1. Inconsiderate neighbors– The University District is populated with mostly undergraduate students, so most of my neighbors are younger and in a different phase of their lives than I am. Five years ago, I might not have minded the loud music at 2 a.m. (I might have even been the one playing it), but now that I’m older and taking school more seriously, noise disruptions can be derailing when I’m trying to study more and get to bed earlier. Like the noise pollution, many residents in the UD don’t seem concerned with littering. It’s not uncommon to see empty beer cans strewn on the grass in front of nearby houses, though trash pickup does come through for regular clean-ups. Personally, I’ve made peace with the fact that living in this area means dealing with these issues, and I go to the library when my neighbors are loud and watch where I step to avoid trash. But if these sound like deal-breakers to you, then living near campus probably isn’t a good idea.
  2. Intense apartment hunting required– If you start looking at apartments near campus and think, “Wow, all these places are dumps,” you’re not wrong. To use some concepts from my Economics class, because the demand for housing near campus is higher than the supply, the landlords have market power and therefore have little incentive to keep their properties in good condition because they’ll find renters no matter what. I looked at hundreds of places online and only  eight or nine places were worth seeing in person. Of those, only one was somewhere I would actually want to live; the others were dirty, had appliances older than I am and generally suffered from a lack of care and upkeep. So when I found that one apartment I wanted, I scooped it up immediately. Not only has my apartment been recently renovated with new carpet and fixtures, it has air conditioning, a dishwasher, a disposal and an in-unit washer and dryer. For less than $600/month, it’s a steal. Apartments like this aren’t the norm in the UD, but they are out there if you have the time and resources to hunt for them.
  3. Parking– I’m lucky enough to have  a parking lot directly behind my apartment for residents-only, but in general, parking near campus can be a hassle and a hazard. Driving down the narrow one-way streets, you’ll see cars crammed into every possible spot, and trying to turn onto a busy street is nearly impossible when a line of vehicles is parked directly in your line of vision. Even more unnerving is the number of cars with scratches and dings. I don’t know if the marks were inflicted as a result of being parked in such a high-traffic area, but it’s enough to make me worry. There are also lots of parking rules, like street-sweeping days and permit-only areas that need to be followed if you don’t want a big towing ticket.
  4. Restaurant and bar options– Like I said above, the number of options for food and drink is huge near campus, but the downside is that they’re typically very busy and most of the customers are the population of undergraduate students. If I want to get away from the throngs of people and accompanying noise, it usually means going to a different part of town which have chiller crowds. If it’s just my boyfriend and me getting a quick drink on a weeknight, we’ll pick a campus bar. However, if I had friends visiting for a weekend and wanted to show them a good time, I would definitely take them somewhere like The Short North where we’d have a better chance at getting a table to ourselves and having an audible conversation.

I could probably keep digging for more pros and cons, but I think this is a good starter, and I’d be happy to address specific questions or issues in the comments. Overall, I think that if your primary needs are space and quiet, living in the University District is probably not for you. However, for those looking for convenience and lower costs, the UD can offer some good housing options if you put in the effort to look for them. Even with the negatives I listed above, I love where I live and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

My Five Steps to Home, Sweet Home

My search for a place to call “home” in Columbus while a student in the Fisher MLHR program was both stressful and rewarding.  I think of my process in 5 different phases: looking for an apartment, looking for roommates, moving in, settling in, and being settled.  Looking back now, it was all worth it to finally have a place I consider my home, sweet home!

  1. The Search – I began looking for apartments during the fall of 2011.  Even though I wasn’t going to be moving in until August, I wanted to get a good feel for the Columbus neighborhoods, the rent, and the freeways.  I did a lot of searching on Craigslist and different websites since the majority of my search was from a distance.  At first I was considering a one bedroom; however, I began to broaden my search to multiple bedrooms.  My hope was that if I found a great place, I could turn around and find a great roommate or roommates.  After touring apartment buildings in Clintonville, Upper Arlington, and other areas, I decided on a fantastic four bedroom just south of campus.  I was worried about filling the four bedrooms, but was willing to take a risk.
  2. The Roommates – Now that I had found a place, I needed the roommates.  I grew up in Missouri and went to Davidson College, so the number of people I knew in Columbus was less than a half dozen.  I posted an advertisement on Craigslist, but it was difficult to find someone compatible.  That’s when I discovered the fantastic roommate resources offered by Ohio State!  I joined a Fisher Student Housing Google Group and created a profile on the off campus roommate matching resource for all Ohio State students.  Creating my profile felt like joining a dating website.  I described my lifestyle, interests, and what I was seeking in a roommate.  Using these resources, I was able to find 3 fantastic roommates!  All 3 are graduate or PhD students at Ohio State.  Although we are from different parts of the country and different undergraduate colleges, we share a lot of the same values and interests.
  3. Moving In – The next step in my process was actually moving to Columbus.  I had to move my things both from Davidson College in North Carolina and from Arkansas, where my parents live.  Nothing makes you want to stop shopping like moving!  After driving my things to Columbus, storing them for a summer, and then moving them once more, I swore that I would never buy another thing in my life!  After much heavy lifting and the help of my friends, I was officially a Columbus resident.
  4. Settling In – My oath to never purchase things again was short lived; soon after moving in, I had to buy new bedding and furniture.  I put together a dresser with the help of my boyfriend and a bookcase all by myself.  I spent longer than I care to admit shopping for just the right desk chair that was both stylish and functional.  And then there were the trials of a new apartment building…The washing machine leaked through the ceiling, the cable and internet took three weeks to set up, and the sounds of ongoing construction occasionally drift through my open window.
  5. Home Sweet Home – Thankfully, there have been many, many good moments to outweigh the stressful.  I was finally able to meet all of my roommates in person.  I am adopting a stray cat, and getting to know the area around my apartment.  I am finally able to drive to most parts of Columbus without my GPS.  I have pictures on the walls and books on my shelves.  I have added to my collection of Ohio State gear, have started classes, and have tickets for the first football game of the season.  I’m really looking forward to my next two years at Fisher.  I have a great place to live and some wonderful roommates.  Not only is my apartment my new home, but so is Ohio and Fisher!
This adorable cat, Dagny, found me.

Village, District, whatever the name, they’re all great!

A busy night in short north
A busy night in short north

Having grown up in Philadelphia, I was always surrounded by culture and different neighborhoods. I have been in C-bus (How the locals call it) for about three weeks now and i haven’t had a moment when i haven’t liked it. My first night after driving a uhaul for 8 hours from Philly, i needed a beer and found Short North to be an excellent fit. The area is just south of campus and offers a wide array of restaurants and shops with a great neighborhood feel. Over the past few weeks I have made it back to the area a few times and have also discovered other areas such as German Village and the Arena District (a place where i think i will spend a lot of time this coming year with fellow classmates as we have already had some great bonding time there). Best of all is that all these neighborhoods with their different offerings are all within a short distance of Campus.

South Campus Gateway
Eddie George's Grill below the apartments. A popular spot on gamedays.

When I was looking for a place to live I wanted to be surrounded by one of these “neighborhoods” but with not having time to make it out to tour buildings I had to search online and found South campus gateway, a new development on the south edge of campus to be a great fit. It offers housing for grad students (mostly law and med) and many restaurants, bars and shops. What makes it perfect for me is that it is a 10-12 min walk from Fisher, saving me the parking “enjoyment” many of my fellow classmates have told me about.

Have to run now, one of my new friends/classmates is coming by to watch Entourage but I’ll keep you updated on the more neighborhoods I visit as I continue to explore my new city.