As the end of my freshman year rolled to an end, I, like many other UC Berkeley students, found myself weighing the available housing options. Apartments were super expensive, sorority life wasn’t my vibe, I didn’t get any campus housing and there was no way I could handle the responsibility of being a resident assistant. So, co-op it was. Despite ranking my co-op choices almost exclusively based on location, I ended up getting a contract at Casa Zimbabwe. One of the things I dreaded most about moving in was the image I had painted in my head about having to live on Northside. It has the reputation for being boring, albeit safe, far away from everything and only inhabited by grad students and professors. My experience thus far, however, has proved to be better than I had ever imagined. Here are some of the pros and cons I’ve discovered about living in Northside as an undergrad.
Pro: Good, less expensive food
While South Berkeley, and Telegraph in particular, is famous for its student-friendly food, I’ve found myself enjoying the food on Euclid street. From taco Tuesdays at El Talpense (Celia’s) to banh mi at Banh Mi & Rolls Factory to frozen yogurt at Menchie’s, the little street has anything a hungry UC Berkeley student could desire. And based solely on personal experience, I’ve found that the food on Northside tends to be cheaper than the food on Southside. Also, the food from La Burrita on Northside somehow tastes much better than the one on Southside.
Con: Everything closes early
Unfortunately, if you want to get food on Northside, you’d better be checking out that Snackpass cart before 9 p.m. Unlike Southside, where Bunz and Boba Ninja reign supreme after a night out, there’s no real opportunity for late-night munchies. Living in Northside, it is vitally important to buy your snacks ahead of time. Luckily, there are a couple corner stores in the area, so as long as you plan ahead, you won’t be lacking in food.
Pro: Proximity to campus
A lot of the housing options on Northside are extremely close to campus. From Casa Zimbabwe, I can reach the North gate in under five minutes. I can walk anywhere on campus in under 15 minutes due to the close proximity. Even the walk to buildings further on the south side of campus like Wheeler or Dwinelle are manageable, and if I’m hurrying along, I can usually make it in the 10 minutes Berkeley Time allows for.
Con: You’ll Uber a lot more
That being said, fewer people live on Northside, and therefore, there are fewer people to walk home with after a late night out. During freshman year, almost all of my friends lived in the same building, and if they didn’t, they were typically just a couple of blocks away. Now that everyone’s spread out, I find myself spending a lot more money on Ubers.
Pro: Generally safer
Whether or not the crime statistics are actually different between Northside and Southside, Northside definitely feels safer. The streets are pretty quiet, and I’ve rarely seen any police presence in the area. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a WarnMe alert that comes from Northside and I feel much more comfortable walking around at night, although it’s better to continue to prioritize your safety. Regardless of where you live, safety comes first.
Pro/con: Quieter streets
It’s up to you whether the peaceful atmosphere is a pro or a con. I personally very much enjoyed the bustle and life of Southside, but I understand it’s not an environment that works for everyone. I tend to miss the activity and strange smells that emanate from the streets of Southside at night. It’s nice and peaceful up here, and if that’s your vibe, then I would highly urge you to look into a place on Northside.
So far, I’ve enjoyed my stay on Berkeley’s Holy Hill. Of course, the last word I would use to describe co-op life is quiet, but I know that I can always slip away onto the tranquil church-and-tree-lined streets. The view of the sunset is incredible, and the roofs here have some of the best views I’ve ever seen. And even if you don’t live here, I would recommend stopping by to check out the area and maybe grab a bite to eat.