The student housing scramble: Two roommates find a good fit off-Grounds

Third-years David Gent and Drew Dudzig like being off-Grounds, where they have their own bedrooms and pay less than what they paid to share a room at UVA’s Lambeth Field Apartments last year. Photo: Eze Amos Third-years David Gent and Drew Dudzig like being off-Grounds, where they have their own bedrooms and pay less than what they paid to share a room at UVA’s Lambeth Field Apartments last year. Photo: Eze Amos

By Shrey Dua

In Charlottesville, one of the largest populations of apartment dwellers can be found in the roughly mile-wide radius immediately surrounding the University of Virginia: students.

Every year, waves of UVA students abandon Grounds in favor of their own apartments, a process that quickly spirals into a mad dash to find the best, most-affordable living space as close to Grounds as possible. That means the search for housing often starts as early as September.

Third-year students David Gent and Drew Dudzig, who met in high school and became roommates in their second year at UVA, enjoyed some of the benefits of on-Grounds housing their first and second years, but decided to move off-Grounds for their third year. 

“We weren’t trying to live on-Grounds another year, just given what you get for how much you pay,” says Gent.

The two found a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment at College Court, a small, ’70s-era complex on 13th Street, after a nerve-racking house-hunting process. “It was actually incredibly stressful,” says Gent. “I went to Australia for a summer internship, and during that time the plans we had made fell through, so Drew and I were basically homeless around mid-June.”

Gent found an apartment while he was in Australia and had his mom contact the owner to work out the details. “It was a pretty crazy situation, but everything worked out in the end,” he says.

Dudzig and Gent’s story is fairly common among university students. The race to find housing often leaves many in a last-second panic just to find a place to live in Charlottesville, let alone one with the amenities students look for in an apartment, especially a room of one’s own.

“Honestly, I was so used to sharing a room at Lambeth last year, and the dorms my first year, as well as with my brother when I was younger, the fact that I got my own room this year alone made it pretty great,” says Gent.

“The apartment has its fair share of drawbacks, things like being in the basement, the occasional bug, keeping the small bathroom and kitchen clean, making sure the drain isn’t clogged, normal stuff like that we have to worry about,” Gent says. “But we’re both fairly clean so it’s really not much of a problem.”

Gent and Dudzig both think their apartment is a much better situation than living at Lambeth, where they were last year. Lambeth Field Apartments and GrandMarc on the Corner are both popular destinations for many second-year students, with fully furnished units and utilities included. But the downsides are pricey rents and often having to share a room. Gent and Dudzig paid around $800 a month each for a shared two-person bedroom. Now, “we each have our own room, and we’re paying less, around $750-775 a month, per person.” says Dudzig. “I also really like the location. Some people think walking to Grounds from the Corner can be a pain, but honestly it’s not very far at all from most of my classes. I probably even prefer the location to first-year old dorms.”

The two plan on living together next year, but this time they’re ahead of the game. They found an apartment months ago.