Students Desire for Off-campus Housing Increases

Many students feel the need to move off-campus after spending a couple years living in the dorms. These students, usually upperclassmen, often discover how difficult it is to find off-campus housing in the surrounding area that is within their living standards and that is affordable. Western Carolina University has recognized the desires of students who wish to move off-campus and has devised a new website to help students find off-campus living arrangements. The website offers information regarding properties to rent or sublet, and for those looking for a more permanent situation, the site also offers information regarding properties that are up for sale. WCU has also taken the opportunity to design message boards in which off-campus students can help one another with their problems such as finding roommates, selling furniture, or merely asking advice regarding living off-campus. Students will have to register with this site before they will be able to view any of the site’s features, but registration for the site is free. For more information, visit: living ½ mile from campus is appealing, Catamount Peak Apartments is a popular option among students. The string of apartments is located on Speedwell Road and is approximately 6 miles from Main Street in Sylva. Catamount Peak is managed by Kenney Realty Services, LLC, and has recently developed new apartments to accommodate to students’ wants and needs. Living in the apartments at Catamount Peak means living in their “community,” which includes a club house, a 24-hour fitness center, swimming pool, resident activities, 24-hour emergency maintenance, as well as loner accessories such as vacuums and tools. Apartments are fully furnished and, as the website makes obvious, include all utilities in their prices. Other features available in each apartment include a dishwasher, self-cleaning oven, refrigerator, microwave, central air and heat and on-site mail delivery; washers and dryers are located in a separate laundry room. “The Peak” offers students a variety of options with many living arrangements and floor plans to choose from. These floor plans include options for single-living or living with one or multiple roommates. More information on Catamount Peaks, such as pricing and descriptions in further detail, can be accessed by visiting their website:, students such as Jessica Rigsbee prefer living further out from campus because housing is more affordable and more desirable than living at “the Peak” or other apartment complexes neighboring WCU. Rigsbee moved off-campus in her junior year at Western because she was fed up with dorm life. “There’s no annoying and loud neighbors banging on the walls and screaming in the halls,” says Rigsbee. “You have your own kitchen, personal laundry room, you can legally have pets, you have your own bedroom and you have a bathroom that you don’t have to share with 30 other people.” Rigsbee rents a townhouse in Sylva, only a ten-minute drive from campus, with her boyfriend and roommate and claims that this living arrangement is much cheaper than living at areas such as “the Peak.” For Rigsbee, the primary reason that living off-campus balances out the expenses for living on campus is that there is no meal plan. “You’re not forced to buy a meal plan that doesn’t last the whole semester. You lose money with the meal plan. Items at the C3 stores and other eating establishments that use meal plan points are doubled in price,” claims Rigsbee. According to Rigsbee and her boyfriend, rent money, including utilities and internet, is no more expensive than the money paid to live in the dorm and the costs students spend on food items balances out with what most pay for their meal plan, the only difference according to Rigsbee is, “You can buy what you want.”In addition to how much things cost, many students want pets and are not allowed to have them in the dorm buildings. Sometimes, finding a living arrangement off-campus that allows pets is also a challenge. Jessica Rigsbee lucked out in her search for a place that would allow her pet ferret to stay. “It’s ridiculous that certain animals are not allowed in the dorms,” she claims, “you can have a fish as long as it’s in a tank no larger than 10 gallons, but you can’t have anything else. You can’t even have a turtle or a hermit crab.” For Rigsbee, finding a place that would allow ferrets was yet another reason to move off-campus. According to Rigsbee, as well as many other students with similar problems concerning living arrangements, the best way to find a place is to look in the newspaper and call everyone. The Sylva Herald offers numerous listings on areas that are for rent around the area along with their telephone numbers. Apparently the trick is not to be deterred by what the ad says. Instead, students should keep an open mind, look at all properties listed and speak directly with the realtor to discuss payment options and living accommodations.