The Louisville Cardinal

Paying little, to live large

By James El-Mallakh–

Amy Bugg has lived in Wellness and Bettie Johnson Hall, but likes her new digs better.

The three-story house she shares with friends in Old Louisville has a “more homey feeling,” said Bugg, a senior bioengineering major.

Bugg describes her living situation from the dining room, the floor space of which is comparable to the size of a two-occupant dorm room in Miller Hall. The ceiling of the dining room is over twelve feet high.

Bugg rents the house with six other women and the $1,775 rent is split seven ways, which, after utilities, comes out to around $325 per person, per month.

For students who are seeking an expansion of living space along with several extra roommates to accommodate the cost, the historic homes of old Louisville offer a viable option close to campus.

“[325 a month] is significantly cheaper than anything you can find on campus, so that is why we chose this place and it’s beautiful,” said Lainey Birkhead, a senior elementary education major and one of the residents of the home.

Birkhead said she was paying what averages out to about $500 per month in the up-front charge of living in a dorm; now she pays 64 percent of that cost and her living space is more than tripled. Other benefits that the home includes are a kitchen, fireplace, a chandelier and a jacuzzi. The home also came furnished and partially decorated before they moved in.

The tenants have also dedicated a room just for studying, Britney Richerson, a junior Boyce College missionary major, said, “I’m more productive here, whereas on campus, people are constantly walking around, coming in and out.”

Amanda Oliver, a junior history major, says one of the benefits for her is a greater feeling of freedom, “campus life, I felt like I was still kind of under the authority of my RA or RD.”

Many of the old Louisville homes are decades old and are much more spacious than the dorm options offered by the university.

The seven occupants still need to have a roommate because there are only four bedrooms and a nursery, though Birkhead says she isn’t bothered by living with someone else because, “we all wanted to have a roommate.”

Birkhead does acknowledge some downsides, “It’s less convenient,” said Birkhead, “when you’re living on-campus, you can just walk to class but here we have to drive.”

Safety is also a concern for the tenants, “I’ve never felt threatened, but it’s not as safe as campus,” said Oliver. Richerson says that as she has lived there over time, she has felt “more secure.” The tenants have never had things stolen from their apartment in the two years they have lived there.

Despite their concerns, the tenants said they get a better deal living in their old Louisville home than they would on campus, which can make all the difference for college students.

“For the freshman experience I think it’s nice to live on campus because you get to know people but I am glad I chose not to live [on campus] anymore because it would be fun if it were affordable but when you can find a place like this, it’s just cheaper and nicer and more comfortable.”

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Photos: Eric Voet/The Louisville Cardinal