Housing Feature: General NY House Hunting Tips + Living in the Bronx: Pelham Parkway, Morris Park, Williamsbridge, etc.

General Housing Search Tips

When I first moved here I had the glamorous Manhattan apartment in my mind—forget that! First of all, those tend to be crazy expensive, so unless you’re willing to live in a walk-in closet expand your search to non-traditional spaces. Look for private rooms or floors in family houses, basement spaces, and apartments above business. I’d suggest making a list of what living requirements are deal-breakers and what you’re willing to be flexible on.

For example, if you’ll be teaching or at a job all day, and direct sunlight isn’t that important to you, a basement apartment might be a good fit. These tend to be cheaper than other one bedrooms and are often larger than above ground spaces. If you look in the neighborhoods off of Pelham Parkway (a main road which turns into Fordham Rd. as you travel west), you can find fully furnished spaces beneath family homes. They usually have separate entrances and often come with some utilities, like internet or heat, included.

The transition to living in New York (if you’re not from an equally big city) can be rough and you should keep it in mind when apartment searching. When I’m apartment hunting I always try to keep track of two things—one, how intense is traffic in the area and two, how much green is on the streets or in the area. If you’re from a place that has lots of trees, plants, and plenty of lawn space, going right to a city apartment might be tough. You may want to make sure the apartment has a window box so you can brighten the space or make sure you live close to a park or green space to decompress from the concrete jungle.

A great benefit of going to Fordham and being a GSAS student is the Rose Hill campus, which is a gorgeous oasis from the streets outside. Campus is always bright with flowers in the summer and provides plenty of great picturesque spaces in the winter. Plus across the street (and free for Fordham students with ID) is the New York Botanical Gardens, one of the best botanical spaces in the US. And if you want to live off Pelham Parkway, there are more green spaces the farther from Fordham Road you venture.

Traffic is something you should think about whether you have a car or not.  High traffic patterns usually mean noise 24/7 and while honking is technically illegal except in emergency, it’s not a rule that’s enforced regularly in the Bronx. If you live off a main drag be ready to hear horns and general traffic noise all night; because apartments and houses are closer to each other and the roads here, the noise won’t be muffled the way it is in more suburban areas.

 

Why Live Here?

Living in the Bronx but away from the immediate Fordham area can be tough. There’s less media chatter about Bronx neighborhoods, and what information there is tends to be more of a scare tactic than actual fact. However, don’t let NBC dramas influence you! There are a lot of great Bronx neighborhoods out there, you just need to find them and have an open mind about what kind of housing situation you’re interested in exploring.

The Morris Park/off-Pelham Parkway neighborhoods are great for young couples (cheaper than Manhattan, house-y feel, not restrictive), families (lots of parks and schools), or someone who just wants a quiet place to study off the (usually) beaten path.

My first apartment was a non-traditional apartment scenario, in a family home in the Morris Park/Williamsbridge area. I rented the first floor of a house, with the owners above me and another renter in the basement. The benefits were enormous—I got free cable, huge rooms all to myself, and a neighborhood feel that helped me transition from small resort town to city.

The area is quiet, mostly families consisting of owners and long time renters, which means cleaner, safer streets, and a sense of community ownership that’s comforting and pleasant. These streets/neighbors tend to have a lot of neighborhood or block parties, so if you’re not a joiner, or aren’t into that sort of ‘everyone knows your name’ scenario, you might want to look into a more traditional housing situation, like the larger apartment buildings that scatter the area.

 

Transportation Concerns:

For you car owners, living in the Morris Park or Williamsbridge area is great, because parking is more plentiful, but you still may have to circle your block a few times if you’d like to get a spot close to your apartment. It’s also a great solution for students who are married or have families and want a more suburban or neighborhood feel while still being close to campus.

There’s no obviously convenient subway but buses run through these neighborhoods and can deposit you on the parkway so you can catch the BX12 express to campus, and there are plenty of Bronx-Manhattan buses that will deposit you downtown if there’s no subway nearby. In a pickle it’s not a terrible walk or bike ride to the Rose Hill campus.

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Filed under Graduate Housing, Graduate Students, GSAS Students, New York/Fordham Area, Off-Campus Housing

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