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A scenic view of campus, downtown Knoxville, and the Tennessee River at sunrise from the River Bluff overlook on April 18, 2021. Photo by Steven Bridges/University of Tennessee

Advice from Off-Campus Vols

by Elizabeth McCarthy

The time of year has come when you’re probably starting to think about a housing plan for next year! Although it may be hard to part with your favorite residence hall and all of the amazing memories you’ve made, there are some amazing benefits to living off-campus, as well as some great places to live.

Whether you choose to live in an apartment on Cumberland Ave, lovingly known as the Strip, one across the river, or live somewhere in Fort Sanders, each living situation comes with its own character and different perks. Although the commute to class might take a little longer than walking from Hess or Carrick, living off-campus can be a great option.

In terms of living off-campus, there are apartments and houses both near and far from campus. Some are within walking distance, while others may require transportation to campus. We talked to various students and they explained why they did or didn’t enjoy their various living situations. 

Fort Sanders

The Fort Sanders neighborhood, known as “the Fort”, is a great off-campus location that is home to many students. Filled with houses for rent, it is the perfect place for you and your friends to reside for a year as you get to live off-campus but still have an easy commute.

“Living in a Fort house is great because rent is cheaper than the apartment buildings, you don’t have to share your walls with strangers or loud neighbors, there’s no mailroom so your packages aren’t as likely to get lost, and the only messes in the house are those of your own instead of dealing with common space messes,” Julia Parauda, a senior psychology major said about her living situation which she has been in for two years. “The rooms and common areas are also much bigger which is nice for when we have friends over, and we even have our own driveway so we don’t have to park on the street.”

Parauda says she and her six roommates were put in contact with their landlord through friends that had lived in Fort Sanders houses previously. They contacted their landlord who showed them the housing options that were still available at the time, and they now have a great relationship. They have found their landlord to be more responsive than apartment management considering landlords have to take care of fewer people.

“I would suggest starting the process of finding a house early in the school year because if you wait too long it might get more difficult,” she added.

Cumberland Ave. 

In addition to exploring houses in the Fort, living on Cumberland Ave or “the Strip”,  is a great option to consider as well. With its close proximity to campus and its accessibility to many different restaurants and shops, there are many great complexes on the Strip to choose from.

“The main benefit from living in an apartment on the Strip has been the location,” Morgan Schlarb, a senior accounting major said. “I love living here because it’s an easy walking distance to campus, and the convenience of food and store options are just minutes away.”

Schlarb lived in a Fort house during her junior year and says there are benefits and downsides to both living situations. 

“I loved the privacy and feel of being in a house versus an apartment because it can sometimes be louder, but the convenience and location of the apartment is much nicer,” she adds. “I would say the main downside to living in an apartment on the Strip is the price of our rent and parking, which was a big change from what I paid when I lived in the Fort.”

South Knoxville

One of the other options students have for off-campus housing is living across the river. With beautiful views of forestry, nature, and the river, these quiet complexes can be found through the Off-Campus Housing Website

“One of the best benefits to living across the river is the availability and pricing,” Lucy Rose Franklin, a senior education major said. “It can be hard to find rooms and houses available closer to campus, and although it is less convenient commute-wise to live across the river, the rent, availability, and noise levels make up for it.”

Franklin also goes into detail on how most of the apartment complexes across the river have shuttle busses that take students to campus and the traffic is much better than it is around the Strip.

Wherever you decide to live, UT offers great resources for everyone. You’ll still have the option to purchase a meal plan regardless of your living situation and you still have access to all campus buildings for studying purposes. The only difference is that you might have to dedicate more time for your commute.

For more information, visit the Off-Campus Housing Website or do a quick Google search of off-campus housing in the area. If you’re looking for more things to consider before deciding which option is best for you, visit the Center for Student Engagement, as well as the Center for Financial Wellness for help with budgeting off-campus expenses.

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Elizabeth is a senior from Philadelphia, PA, majoring in public relations with a minor in business management. She has a passion for graphic design, social media and writing, and her favorite thing to do at UT is attending football games with her friends. She plans to move to Nashville after her graduation in May to pursue public relations and marketing.