The Great New Haven Real Estate Hunt

March 9, 2009

J.J., 1L

As I prepared to move to New Haven only six months ago, one of the first things to do was to find a place to live. Having spent the previous two years embattled in the bloodsport that is the New York City rental market, I braced myself for a long, tortuous hunt for suitable digs. Fortunately, I shouldn’t have been so worried; finding an apartment in New Haven is actually a very easy and pleasant experience.

The first decision to make was whether to live on my own or with others. Having lived with roommates since my freshman year of college, I decided I was ready to go it alone. However, many of my 1L (and 2L and 3L) classmates live with roommates, and wouldn’t have it any other way. As one might guess, there is a thriving market for Yale grad student roommates in New Haven. Lots of law students meet their future roommates during YLS’s admit weekend in the spring before classes start. Others make use of a dedicated Facebook group or the YLS admitted students’ webpage to join up with others for housing. As a last resort, Craigslist is a reliable standby for finding potential roommates from outside the law school.

Having decided to live on my own, I faced the next big New Haven real estate decision: East Rock or Downtown? East Rock, lovingly referred to as the “grad ghetto” is an area to the north and east of downtown with tree-lined streets, two- and three-story houses (most partitioned into apartments), and a comfy “suburban” feel. East Rock is quiet and safe, and probably home to about half of the law school class as well as a wide variety of students from other grad schools at Yale.

If they don’t live in East Rock, most law students live downtown in a roughly 15 square block area that is home to most of New Haven’s apartment buildings, restaurants, bars, and other urban attractions. The downtown area boasts a dozen or so coffee shops, art galleries, boutiques, and bars to suit every taste. Most areas of downtown are also closer to the law school than East Rock, and students living downtown generally walk to school. Having loved the urban feel of NYC, I decided downtown was the way to go.

Through word of mouth, and after some initial browsing online, I had narrowed my search to a short list of promising apartment buildings. Because the apartment market here is so closely tied to the school year, there are always plenty of vacancies in the summer and early fall. I made plans to come to New Haven one summer Saturday to check out the offerings. As it happened, I think I toured all of the most popular grad student buildings: The Taft, The Liberty, University Towers, The Cambridge-Oxford, Bulldog Apartments, and The Eli, just to name a few. I saw apartments to fit every taste and budget, and several that I would have been more than happy to call home. After only one trip up from NYC, I decided on the apartment that was right for me and signed my lease. The whole process had been utterly painless – kind of like first semester here!

Now, if only finding a summer sublet in New York could be that easy...