Far and away: some students prefer life well outside of Oakland


The grimy, dingy houses of Oakland aren’t for everyone.

Some students trade the convenient location to move further off campus for a variety of reasons. In some cases, they got in the house-hunting game too late, and in others, students simply felt like living in a neighborhood outside of Oakland.

Since off-campus housing in Oakland can be sparse and competitive, many upperclassmen begin house-hunting early. Brieanna Shawver, a junior emergency medicine major, started her hunt early on with her roommates but was later stuck when one of her roommates decided to study abroad that year.

“It left my other roommate and I in a bind with a place too big and too expensive, and it was late in the year,” Shawver said. “We hadn’t paid the housing deposit and couldn’t really afford to live on campus anyway.”

Shawver and her roommate live in Stanton Heights, which is about five miles from campus. While she said her apartment is significantly nicer and cheaper than most places in Oakland, she has found the distance to be an issue.

“When I have to take a bus to Oakland, I have to leave up to an hour and a half before I need to be somewhere — so that’s awful,” she said. “But I am getting used to it.”

While Shawver does have a car, she finds the bus to just be a simpler method to get to Pitt.

“It’s atrocious to have to find a spot when parking and then pay the price of my first born’s soul to park for the day,” she said.

Shawver also finds that the distance puts a barrier between her friendships from people who are closer to campus. When she wants to see her friends, she usually has to make the trip to campus since most of her friends don’t want to make the trip to Stanton Heights.

“If they want to come to my place, I drive and pick them up. I don’t expect people to take buses out to my place,” Shawver said. “However, my friends are really good about letting me stay in Oakland when we want to see each other.” 

For some students, their parents help make the decision to live far off-campus. 

Zach Williams, a junior English writing major, lives in a house in Shadyside because his parents wanted to invest in real estate there in hopes of renting the property out. They’re allowing Williams and his roommates to live there until he graduates.

Since Williams lived in Centre Plaza his sophomore year, the on-campus housing farthest from campus, he says that his distance from campus in Shadyside isn’t too much of an issue.

“It’s not really a struggle to get to campus. The walk to the bus stop takes probably five minutes, and the bus ride itself is probably 10 minutes, I’d guess,” Williams said.

Williams said he really only sees his on-campus dwelling friends on the weekends, and mostly sees his roommates and their girlfriends on the weeknights.

“It is definitely harder to go out and see people,” he said. “I definitely had a lot more friends freshman year.”

While real estate and time are factors for students deciding where to live, some just don’t want to live in South Oakland.

Emily Anthony lives by herself in an apartment in Bloomfield, just two and a half miles from campus. Anthony, a junior mechanical engineering major, said it’s stressful to get to campus, but she has noticed that she’s significantly healthier from it, since she tries to bike to campus. But, when it’s impractical to bike, she relies on the bus.

“I’ve also developed a sixth sense for when the 71A and C are around the block,” she said.

Since she lives so far from campus, Anthony has developed a “home away from home” in the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) office in Benedum Hall. She has her own locker there, and the office has a fridge and a couch. She spends most of her time with friends  and members of FSAE there, rather than at home by herself.

Despite trading off a quick trip to classes, students living far away from campus were ultimately satisfied with the other benefits to their housing choices.

“[Stanton Heights] is really quiet and friendly, though,” Shawver said. “My apartment is also much nicer than Oakland places and is significantly cheaper.”