Apartment Search Pointers
Buckeye Rush The best time to find a Columbus apartment? May. As OSU students migrate, graduate, and move on, the trendiest, cheapest, and most convenient apartments will become available. Be sure to snatch them up before summer ends and the buckeyes rush back into town for a new semester.
Pets Columbus apartment complexes favor cats over dogs. Unfortunately for the canine compassionate, having a dog will drastically limit your apartment options in most urban areas. Also, be prepared to pay pet rent on top of an often non-refundable pet deposit.
The Lease Most apartments require an initial 12-month lease. However, this is balanced with relatively low and refundable deposits... a luxury that many cities don't enjoy.
Navigating Columbus Neighborhoods
Whether you're an east coast urbanite or a product of cow-town upbringing, Columbus, Ohio might be a bit of a culture shock. But never fear, I've put together a simple city guide right here:
Downtown: Where the tall buildings live. It's the heart, the epicenter, the big shebang of Columbus. Here you will find an incredibly diverse selection of employers, plenty of great happy hour spots, various festivals and events, incredibly overpriced eats, and swanky city living rentals. $$$$
Arena District: Where the football fans live. Come here to watch local games in the Nationwide Arena, or head over to one of the many sports bars to cheer on your favorite team in a lively atmosphere of plasma TV's, quality brews, and raving-mad Buckeye fans. Modern apartments overlook downtown, located just one mile away, offering great skyline views and a myriad of businesses and nightlife within walking and biking distance. $$$$
Short North: Where the fabulous live. This district is known for its art galleries, murals, gay bars and quirky cafes. While it caters to the queer community, Short North also attracts a bohemian vibe, with plenty of eccentric street performers, artists, and offbeat events. It hosts the monthly Gallery Hop and the annual Doo Dah Parade, a parody of the traditional American 4th of July parade. Apartment life in this artsy area is the “bee’s knees”… knee deep in character and creativity. Apartments range from modern flats to village-style townhomes. $$$
South: Where the Germans live. Historically, this area was heavily populated by German immigrants. Today, it is still best-known for the German Village Oktoberfest: a salute to beer, bratwurst, and sauerkraut. Residents enjoy a close proximity to downtown, though; there’re plenty of unique shops, eateries, art galleries and cultural character in their own neck of the woods. German village architecture can be seen in both the houses and apartments around here, giving the area a sort of Pleasantville vibe. $$$
University: Where the tow trucks live. These law-abiding carjackers stalk the streets around OSU, especially during football season, and will pounce on your beloved vehicle the first chance they get. For this reason, be sure to snag an apartment with sufficient parking. Tow trucks aside, this area offers a great life for the fast-paced: there’s tailgating, frat parties, shopping and dining, lots of bars, an incredible underground music scene, and the bastion of arts and culture known as the Wexner Center. Also known as the "student ghetto", the affordability of this area makes for a shady, punk vibe that rubs many people the wrong way... but isn't that the point of punk? $
Northwest: Where the quiet live. Looking to retreat into peaceful-open-space-child-rearing-suburbia-land? Head northwest into the neighborhoods of Grandview Heights, Upper Arlington, Dublin, and Hillard: All great school districts... all a bit pricey. $$$
Northeast: Where the nostalgic live. Is old town scenery what you're looking for? This area is made up of unique American architecture that spans various styles and historic eras. New Albany, Gahanna, and the wonderful Westerville neighborhoods are all popular locations for family-oriented home seekers. $$
How to Get By in Columbus
Get a car. If you are moving from a place like New York, then public transportation here will seem like a cruel joke. If you are moving from a sprawling city like Los Angeles or San Antonio, then it might not seem too bad. Either way, life will be easier with your own ride.... especially in winter, when cold weather can make even the most convenient neighborhoods a harsh place to walk, bike, or wait for a bus.
Become a Buckeyes fan. Easiest way to make friends in Columbus: Just put on the OSU colors (which are gray and scarlet, not red) and scream "O.H." You will hear an "I.O." echoing back at you with instant, effortless comradery. And, should you dare support an out-of-state team at the local sports bars, you’d better keep your voice down and have an escape plan.
Count Your Vices. Cigarette smoking laws are very strict in Columbus, the bars close at 2 a.m., and you can only buy beer from 1 p.m. to midnight on Sundays. For those not used to having the government regulate their bad habits, this surprise can be both shocking and annoying.
Scrape the surface. Many people move here from big, big cities, drive down High Street, drink at Oktoberfest, and then claim that there's nothing else to do. Despite all the live music, festivals, and football games, they say, "Columbus sucks." Columbus residents say, "Columbus sucks because you suck." This affectionate phrase is now the title of an underground flyer/event calendar that comes out once a month. If you're into radical art shows, offensive comedy, noisy hardcore punk, ambient, drone, tribal and grind music, then this flyer is for you!
That about wraps it up. The most difficult step of any journey is the first, and with just one step at a time is the arduous journey completed. Now go forth, just as Christopher Columbus did, for you have some serious exploring to do.
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