The Berkeley Bunch: Living Off Campus With 9 People

Two days before I turned 19, I moved in with 8 of my closest friends to the bottom half of a duplex with 6 more of my friends upstairs, but that’s a whole other story.

When I first decided to live off campus, I was so unnecessarily afraid. All I knew was that it was going to be different from dorm living. For starters, I wouldn’t have to wear shower shoes anymore, but that luxury was paired with paying for utilities and buying my own groceries. Not to mention, finding an apartment is so much harder than applying for housing. It was a daunting task, but I went through it with  my best friend which made it a little bit easier.

My first tip is to find a roommate. Having someone to work with was very reassuring, there’s nothing quite like a second opinion. To this, I knew that worst case scenario I’d still be living with her. Both of us were desperate to leave the dorms behind us, but we applied for on campus housing just in case we couldn’t find something, which is honestly the best backup plan there is. While housing isn’t guaranteed for everyone, it was a nice safety net.

Touring apartments is really weird, but in a good way. We mainly looked at where our graduating friend’s live. We went through 5 different places before we found one we actually really liked. It was upstairs from where we are now. To make a long story short, there was a lot of miscommunications and some things fell through, and that was devastating. For a few days we had no plans and no where to go. I was ready to invest in a tent and set up shop behind Moffitt library, when a Christmas miracle was bestowed on us in the middle of March. 6 of our friends were living underneath our almost-home and they needed 2 more people to fill out the space.

Tip number 2, if housing is magically handed to you by 6 of your dearest friends, don’t say no. Of course not everyone is going to be as lucky as I was, and I’m thankful every night that I have a roof over my head, but I have to admit it’s a pretty great ending to the story. We accepted the offer without even touring the house, which is definitely a questionable decision — do as I say not as I do and all that — but we were just so excited to be living with the people we love instead of strangers or squatting in one of the libraries we couldn’t say no.

Berkeley housing is a nightmare. But it’s not impossible. Take me for example, two months ago I was sure I’d have to drop out because I wouldn’t be able to live up here to go to school, but I managed to figure it out. Berkeley has amazing continuing student housing options, and the surrounding area always has room openings and new complexes being built.

Yes, it is scary. Whether you have to search for an off campus apartment or you’re anxiously waiting that on campus housing offer to come in, it’s hard not to expect the worst.

Which is why I’ll leave you with tip number 3, don’t give up. Your first plan falling through isn’t a sign from the universe to pack your bags and go home. Things don’t work out all the time, and that’s ok. Don’t rule anything out, don’t say no without considering it, and remember that you can always move in a year’s time if you’re unhappy with wherever you ended up. And who knows, what you assume to be the worst situation could introduce you to your new best friends or turn out to be much better than you assumed it would.

I’m so excited to be living where I am even though I never would’ve guessed this is where I would end up. I wan’t to make this place my home for the next 3 years, and I wouldn’t be here if my plans didn’t initially crash and burn all around me.

Bridget Bernet

Author: Bridget Bernet

Howdy! My name is Bridget, I am a freshman here at UC Berkeley, intended to double major in philosophy and rhetoric. I love all forms of writing, which is why I decided to write for Bear Talk :) and I'm so excited to share my perspective on this amazing campus. I've only been here for one full semester so far, and I already know this place is my home. From cheering on the sports teams to studying in Moses Hall, every moment here is a special one, and I plan on documenting it all. Go Bears!