Jack Richter is like many other SMU students who have dealt finding the right place to live. The senior Psychology major wants to live with friends, have a clean and safe home, and be close to school all while not breaking the bank.
Richter has lived in two different houses in his two years as an upperclassman, moving from one part of Dallas to another, now residing on Ellsworth Avenue, off of the lower end of Greenville Avenue.
“Price was the biggest factor for me. I’m only paying 700 dollars a month which is the lowest of anyone I know and I have a great spot,” Richter said. “I also liked that I have a house of five people which I could not get by campus, it’s an experience you will only really get in college, living with five people.”
Richter’s duplex houses five on each side, with all spots being occupied by SMU students. It is one of several duplexes or condominiums on the block, and Richter says the neighborhood is mostly filled with young families or recent college graduate aged people. Of the 927 homes in his area, 70.6 percent are occupied by non–families. The average property value of the “M Streets” is $60,000 according to dallascitydata.com, and many of the houses are available for rent.
“I did not look at anything other than price, location compared to campus, and size of the house,” Richter said. “I mean, I took a look at the neighborhood when I first checked the house but I feel like it’s safe here. Nothing sticks out as overly dangerous.”
Richter’s rental is just 1.1 miles from the main entrance of the SMU campus.
The neighborhood allows students to rent cheaply, but it does have its drawbacks. There are 34 registered sex offenders in the area code, including one just two streets down the block on Martel Avenue.
A simple search for a rental property on a realty website reveals hundreds of places an SMU student could entertain as an option to live in. With so many choices, students need to decide on their priorities. Cost of living, convenience, lifestyle, and safety are all things to consider, and some areas exchange one for another.
Recent development of apartments and condominiums have given students and young professionals an increased ability to find a quality home for one or two years.
“There’s been tens of thousands of new apartments in Dallas in the last few years so there’s plenty of places that are a perfect fit for people who rent,” local realtor Forrest Gregg said.
“Uptown has good lifestyle choices and restaurants and then over in the West Village of Uptown there are really affordable places to rent for people looking for bargains.”
Gregg says that most students he works with are looking for lifestyle choices regardless of price and location relative to school.
“Uptown is loaded with apartments and provides access to what kids want like restaurants, bars, entertainment options, things like that so its no wonder why places are being built there,” he said.
SMU junior Will Moss lives on State Street in the Uptown area, and agrees with Gregg’s thesis that most students care more about lifestyle than anything else.
“I definitely pay more rent than I would like to, and it’s probably more than a lot of my friends, but this apartment is worth it,” Moss said. “We can walk to so many different restaurants and shops that I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
According to neihgborhoodscout.com, 64 percent of homes in and around the State Street area are classified as “newer” and homes there built since 2000 make up a higher percentage of the neighborhood than 97.8 percent of neighborhoods in the United States.
Living next to campus has a different set of advantages and drawbacks from the Greenville area. The apartment laden grid behind Dallas Hall is filled with SMU students, as evidenced by the out of state license plates on cars covered with Greek letter bumper stickers that line streets like Airline Drive and Rosedale Street.
“Living next to a ton of other students has been really fun,” SMU senior Cam Doane, an engineering major, said. “It’s easy to get to class and see friends who live on the other streets around here.”
Doane lives in the popular student apartment complex, The Summit, and pays $1,100 a month in rent. Having lived there for the last two years, he clearly enjoys its benefits more than he is irked by its pitfalls, which he says do exist.
“I don’t think our landlord really caters to college kids, so when things like our appliances break, it takes a lot for us to get help,” Doane said. “It’s also pretty expensive and I’m not even in the master bedroom so I’m really paying to be walking distance to school and other friends, restaurants and things like that.”
Rosedale Avenue is on the border of two districts that have a median household income of close to $200,000 a year and there are only six registered sex offenders in the 75205 zip code. The Summit apartments are also guarded by a fence with a security code that residents must type to get entry, furthering mitigating the risk of living there.
58.6 percent of residents in the immediate area north of SMU are enrolled in college according to neighborhoodscout.com. Property crime is 17.73 percent lower in University Park than the rest of Texas.
Doane said he has not been effected in any way by crime in the area where he rents, but it is also possible that many crimes in the heavily student filled area goes unreported.
Students are able to live on campus every year, which costs $16,214 per year according to SMU. In 2015-16, 2,640 underclassmen lived on campus compared to only 300 third and fourth year students. With a student population of 6,350 it can be assumed that there are more than 3,000 students living off campus this year.