Students rate houses over apartments

Tim Paluch

Christopher Stenum likes mowing his own lawn and doing repairs on his own home. He doesn’t mind paying a little more than other ISU students who live off campus — he prefers living in a house to an apartment.

For Stenum, sophomore in horticulture, the whole atmosphere of living in a house is what appeals to him.

He’s not one who desires a crowded cluster of apartments in one complex — give him his own driveway any day.

“I prefer houses because they are more personal. Apartments are too much like the dorms, with all the neighbors real close by,” he said.

“In a house, all you have to worry about is your roommates.”

ISU students who say they prefer the “character” of a house to an apartment complex may be fewer and far between today — or at least their living options are.

Karen Popelka, rental consultant coordinator at Professional Property Management, 201 S. 5th St. Suite 202, said the number of houses in Ames that are being offered for rent are decreasing and there are no new houses being built.

Popelka said part of the decrease in popularity of living in a college house is because living in an apartment is more cost-efficient for ISU students.

“College students as a whole want to live in an apartment, where you don’t have to pay all the utilities,” she said. “The landlord is in charge more, and it is a convenience to a serious college student.”

Gary Hunziker, owner of Hunziker Property Management, 105 S. 16th St., said inexpensive and affordable houses for rent are disappearing from Ames.

“You can’t get enough rent to pay for how expensive it is to build and maintain a house,” he said. “Land costs so much per unit, so it is more expensive to have a house rather than an apartment complex, where a lot more people fit in a space.”

Hunziker, whose company is building complexes north of campus right now, said he believes apartments provide tenants with lower costs and less hassle.

“You are able to get more economical rent in a building with more people on an area of land,” he said.

“In a house, students mow the lawns, shovel the snow and pay all utilities. In most apartments, all tenants pay is electric.”

Aaron Bakke, senior in metallurgical engineering, has been living in a house and he doesn’t care about those details — he said he believes a house has more “character.”

“I like living in a house because everything is yours,” Bakke said. “In an apartment, everyone shares the lawn outside. In the house, we have our own backyard.”

However, Bakke does recognize the difficulties that be can associated with living in a house.

His former house was condemned by the city of Ames, and the owners were forced to repair it. Bakke and his roommates chose to move instead of facing higher rent and the hassle of having their home repaired while they still lived there.

Despite his string of bad luck, Bakke said he and his roommates still wanted to live in a house.

“We could have lived in an apartment,” he said. “But we instead searched real hard for houses and finally found one.”

Stenum remains another student who will never be satisfied living in an apartment complex.

“The extra work and money is worth it,” he said.