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Friday, April 19, 2024 — Houston, TX

Off-campus housing options to explore

Amy Cao / Thresher

By Amy Li     1/16/24 9:57pm

As room jack approaches, the potential problem of having to find affordable, convenient off-campus housing looms ever closer. Many students may think it is too soon to search for housing, but looking early is important in order to secure a lease in time. These off-campus housing options, along with their pros and cons, may help you get started on deciding where to live.

The Circle at Hermann Park

The Circle is a relatively popular off-campus option for Rice students and offers studio, one, two and three-bedroom homes. Apartments feature open floor plans and modern appliances. Living at The Circle includes the benefit of access to two pools and a fitness center perfect for when the on-campus gym gets too crowded. Students hoping to cook at home will also appreciate its proximity to H-E-B, 0.6 miles away.

Josh Stallings, a resident of one of The Circle’s three-bedroom units, emphasized the importance of The Circle’s Essential Housing program in making his decision on where to live off-campus.

“We managed to get an apartment at The Circle that was essentially 50% off on rent … I pay $500 a month, and that’s really hard to beat for me,” Stallings, a Duncan College sophomore, said.

Stallings said that the program is worth checking out. 

“I was told any college student receiving financial aid, merit or need based, could potentially be eligible,” Stallings wrote in an email to the Thresher. “At my particular complex, these apartments are fairly limited in number so not all of the units could be leased under this term. But if you could potentially qualify it’s definitely worth checking out, and other places could have something similar!”

Despite these perks, The Circle is 1.5 miles away and mostly accessible for students with cars, bikes or a very flexible schedule. Even then, students will have to drive or bike for about 10 minutes through Hermann Park.

The Nest on Dryden 

Specifically designed for Rice students, The Nest offers fully-furnished two, four and five-bedroom apartments. These apartments feature wood-inspired flooring, a private patio or balcony, an in-unit washer and dryer, bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, fully-equipped kitchens with stainless steel appliances and furniture. The complex also has a number of shared study rooms for residents searching for some peace and quiet.

The Nest is relatively new and close to campus, only a 15 minute walk or 4 minute bike ride from the Rice Memorial Center. However, it is on the more expensive end, and students should expect to pay in the realm of $1,300 to $1,800 depending on how many bedrooms they want.

District at Greenbriar

District at Greenbriar is another popular option for Rice students and offers studio, one and two-bedroom apartments which feature spacious interiors, floor-to-ceiling windows and extra space perfect for a large study area. Living at District includes access to a fitness center and swimming pool. District is also a mere 5-minute drive from the nearest H-E-B. However, it is mostly accessible from Rice by bike or car. 

Arsh Jain, who lives at District, said the biggest pro of District compared to other apartments is safety.

“A lot of other apartments in the area had many car break-ins, and since some of us had cars, that was a no-go,” Jain, a Baker College sophomore, wrote in an email to the Thresher. “I drive, but it is very much bikeable as well, and the area where you are biking in is very safe.”

For students hoping to live alone, District may be relatively expensive, with studios and one-bedroom apartments currently starting at $1,515 and $1,545, respectively. However, for those willing to room with someone, two-bedroom apartments currently start at $2,065.

Life Tower

Life Tower is a relatively new apartment complex offering studio, one, two and four-bedroom apartments. Emma Hughes, manager of Life Tower, told the Thresher in 2022 that around 300 Rice students were living in the complex at the time. The fully-furnished apartments include kitchens equipped with various appliances, high-speed internet and in-unit washer and dryer facilities. Amenities include a 24/7 fitness center, study nooks and an outdoor terrace.

When the building opened in 2022, Life Tower residents wrote a petition to management about their lack of responsiveness to residents’ complaints, which included electrical problems and security issues. At the time, one petition signer told the Thresher, “The ovens don’t work … and, more annoyingly, the washing machines don’t work. My dishwasher leaked all over the floor, which is not convenient.”

Hughes attributed these issues to the building’s construction, which was ongoing at the time but is now largely completed.

Prices currently sit at around $1,130 per person for four-bedroom apartments, $1,275 for two-bedroom apartments, and $1,400–$1,700 for studios.

Mezzo Kirby

Mezzo Kirby offers studio, one, two and three-bedroom apartments. Apartments are designed to be semi-modern and come with appliances including an in-unit washer and dryer, a fridge, a stove and an oven. Apartments come unfurnished. Residents have access to a gym, which includes a yoga studio, and a pool. Students hoping to live at the Mezzo can expect to pay in the realm of $1,000 to $1,300.

Diego Lopez, a Will Rice College senior, began living at the Mezzo back in 2020 based on its proximity to Kroger, which is directly across the street from the apartment complex, and the recommendation of a family friend.

“In 2020, none of my roommates or I had cars, so having accessible groceries was a huge factor,” Lopez wrote in an email to the Thresher.

The Mezzo is relatively far from campus compared to other options at 2.3 miles from West Lot, roughly a 10-15 minute drive depending on traffic.

Other housing

Though many students live in the previously listed apartment complexes, many others live in houses in various areas, sharing home and rent costs with a group of roommates. This can often be far cheaper than spaces in large apartment complexes.

Popular areas include the Southgate neighborhood located directly south of campus, the Museum District and West University Place. Other areas include Montrose, which is closer to hotspots of Houston culture.

Tyler Kadivar lives in a house in Montrose with three roommates, each with their own bedroom. However, the one big downside is that their home is relatively far from campus.

“The process of finding this place was maybe a little bit difficult because I think we started a little late …” Kadivar, a Duncan sophomore said. “The biggest problem is the distance, because it’s about a 10-15 minute bike to campus, which is obviously less than ideal.”

Emily Huynh, who lives in a house in the Museum District, agreed that starting early is of the utmost importance when trying to secure good housing.

“For various reasons, we started searching later than most people — about April or May — so a lot of the common housing options near campus were already taken,” Huynh, a Wiess College sophomore, wrote in an email to the Thresher. “Look early. Look even if you think you're going to get housing. Your lack of gray hairs will thank you for it.”

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