Your guide to post-dorm accommodation options


So, do you want to get out of the dorms? Luckily, we’ve got all the tips and tricks to make your decision easier.

From downtown apartments to neighborhood homes, there are plenty of options after spending your first year in this dirty, unrenovated room. However, finding the right one can be a tricky process.

We asked our employees to compile their housing experiences to help you choose your next humble abode.


Ryen galey: I found my current home thanks to my family and friends. My older sister lived in this exact house, and my exact room in fact, almost four years ago and this house has been passed down by family and friends ever since. Homes and townhouses are often rented through small landlords, and I am fortunate to have found this tiny diamond in the rough.

I actually live with four other Onward State staff, and the biggest plus of this house is that we all have our own bedrooms. Having six daughters in a house might sound like a lot, but honestly we have a lot of space here and we never feel like we’re all on top of each other. I chose this house for the fact that I have my own bedroom, it is close to the city center, and it has a large porch and living space.

It’s the perfect place to have company and we love to greet people all the time. If I had years as a student at Penn State beyond this year, I would choose to live in a house over and over again. I can’t stress enough how nice not living in a small, old dirty apartment. Our little nook certainly has a lot of character (read: squirrels in the wall), but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Apartment Center-Ville

Acacia Aster Embroider: The Rise is an off-campus apartment complex across from South Residence Halls. You can contact the office to get resort information, take a tour, and complete an online rental application.

I decided to live at The Rise because I had friends who lived there during my first year and second year who loved the units and the location. They offer apartments from studios to five bedrooms where you can have your own bedroom or live with a roommate, it just depends on the type of unit you are applying for.

I have my own bedroom and bathroom so I don’t have to share my space with my roommates. I love the proximity to my classes, the Pegula Ice Arena, Bryce Jordan Center, downtown, and other shops and restaurants. I’m on a suburban meal plan as well, so if I don’t feel like making dinner or lunch, Redifer is less than a three minute walk away.

One thing I really love about The Rise is all the common areas. The gym and study room are really clean and spacious. It’s nice to know that those in space are other residents of Rise and not random strangers. You also have a washer and dryer in your unit which I really like as I don’t have to wait for a machine to open like I did in the dorms.

I would definitely like apartments like The Rise for anyone who wants to live off campus but not be too far away. It’s really great to be close to the city center because I feel separated from the campus, but not isolated. I also love that I don’t need to have a car to get to campus and downtown, and it’s really nice not having to worry about parking.

Apartment on campus

Ryan parsons: Although they are apartments, the Nittany apartments are still considered housing on campus. You can register for apartments through eLiving, just like a normal dorm or suite.

I lived at Nittany Apartments in second year because it was a great bridge between dorm life as a freshman and life off campus as an upper class student. I always wanted to be close to campus (to campus, in fact) and have perks like a meal plan and the Penn State Internet. I also wanted to have my own room while living in a house with roommates. I had a four bedroom townhouse style apartment, which had two floors, two bathrooms, a kitchen and a shower. There is also a ‘garden’ style apartment, which is only one storey and can have two or four rooms.

Living in Nittany Apartments was honestly quite similar to living off campus. You can have an AR, but they are spread across many buildings, so you don’t really see them much unless you get out of your way. There weren’t really many parties because the apartments are owned by Penn State and alcohol is prohibited. It made things calm, but I still ran into neighbors and people I knew in the area quite often.

Nittany Apartments comes with all the typical benefits of campus life like internet, a meal plan and laundry (for a fee). Laundry is done at the Nittany Community Center, which can be inconvenient if you live far away. Fortunately, I lived quite close to the NCC and Pollock Commons, which made eating very easy. Now that I live off campus, I miss how easy it was to grab a bagel and coffee from Edge on the way out.

I’ve outlined most of the main benefits so far, but location is a big factor as well. I was relatively close to BJC and Beaver Stadium which made sporting events easier. It was also easy to organize my classes on the east / south side of campus, so I didn’t have to walk too far. The south, Pollock and the HUB were also all very easy to get to and the city center is much closer than it was to the east. There is also a Blue Loop stop right outside the apartment complex, which came in handy when I needed to travel west of campus or downtown on a cold day.

I would recommend Nittany Apartments to anyone as they are a great option for sophomores or upper class students who want the feel of an apartment while living on campus. I think I got lucky with the lottery system in second year, but it was a great place to live.

Distant lands

Alysa rubin: My roommates, Mira, Dana and Dani moved to The Valley last year after finding it on the internet, so I decided to move here with them. I have my own living room, bathroom, parking and share my apartment with my three wonderful roommates. It is spacious, modern and very well appointed.

The Valley, located far north of campus, has its rental office built inside the building, making it an easy place to visit and call for any rental questions. Make sure you ask lots of questions before signing a lease!

Amenities include your own bedroom and bathroom, free parking, in-unit washer and dryer, lodge common area, swimming pool and more. Living in The Valley means you are far from campus, but if you prefer a quiet and tidy living environment, you’ll love it. Since it’s so far, we all drive to campus and have the commuter pass as well as free CATA bus passes.

My roommates and I actually prefer the quietness of The Valley as opposed to the noise of downtown. It’s a great place to live and it really adds a lot to my university experience. You just need to be ready for the ride.

~ Hidden gems ~

Penn State juniors: The Graham Building is just above Sauly Boy’s on South Allen Street, in the heart of downtown. The building has four units: two three bedrooms and two one bedroom. My three roommates and I live in a three bedroom apartment and we love it.

We rented the apartment through The Apartment Store, and found it because I did an internship with the company last year. We chose the Graham Building because we wanted to be in the middle of downtown and fell in love with the back porch.

In our unit, the kitchen is brand new, but this is not the case for the other three units. We have a parking lot right at the back and you can pay for a spot every semester. The downside is that we don’t have laundry facilities in the building, but there is a laundromat just down the road where we always go.

As we’re right across from Champs Downtown and Pickle’s, it can get quite noisy on weekends (and during Country Night), but the large front windows that overlook Allen Street make for wonderful people watching. A little heckling on a Friday night is a small price to pay for the stellar location and the large back porch.

Although my roommates and I are staying in our unit next year, I would definitely recommend the Graham Building or one of its many similar places. These little apartments fill up quickly, so if you can’t get your hands on this one, I would recommend looking at other apartments above downtown restaurants and businesses – you’d be surprised how many there are.

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