Alternative housing options

The Journal explores lesser-known housing options for upper-year students

Co-ops offer four or eight month leases.
Co-ops offer four or eight month leases.

Students househunting this month have an array of options aside from the traditional Ghetto house. Though this has proven to be the most popular amongst undergraduate Queen’s students, popular alternatives exist.


Sarah Witiuk lives at the corner of Brock Street and University Avenue with nine housemates in one of the 21 Sci ’44 co-ops around campus.

“Basically you can sign up for either a four or eight month lease,” Witiuk, ArtSci ’12, said. “Everyone is their own landlord.”

Living in a co-op costs about $8,000 for the year, Witiuk said, including rent, utilities, food and social events.

Members rent based on the size of their room and can sign up to have a meal plan.

“Basically for three hours a week we all volunteer doing something, like making muffins, making salad,” Witiuk said.

“You get to live in a house with exchange students, international students … There’s so many different programs represented.”

But, Witiuk stressed that co-op living isn’t for everyone.

“This is the same for any time you decide to live away from home, you really have to have an open mind to living with people who are very different from you.”

Upper-year residence

After Victoria Onesty’s first year in Gordon Brockington Hall, she opted to remain in residence for her following three years at Queen’s.

Onesty, ArtSci ’12, said both her and her parents felt that the process of finding a house off-campus could be stressful and dangerous.

“For my parents, it just seemed a little more secure as it was part of the Queen’s University housing,” she said.

Onesty has lived in Watts and Harkness International Hall. “It’s kind of enhanced my social life in that I’ve been able to meet all these new people,” she said.

As an upper year, Onesty said her residence experience has differed from her first year.

“A lot of times the upper-years are more studious and can be quieter … In Harkness there are two dons and very few issues, I guess because students are older and more mature.” Since most students are of the legal drinking age, Onesty said there is less partying in residence.

“They’ll go out to party, they’re of age to go out to the clubs or bars.” Regardless of the social benefits upper year residence can have, Onesty said there are also some drawbacks, like not being able to keep your belongings in the same place year after year.

When the cafeterias are closed, students that are dependent on a meal plan must fend for themselves.


To save money, Jade Lake decided to live with her grandfather 20 minutes outside of Kingston in Amherstview.

“I like it, I’ve actually grown to be really close with my grandpa,” Lake, PheKin ’14, said, adding that she’s also found it easier to complete homework in the quiet environment. “It’s more relaxing I find. I hear a lot of people talking about how there’s a lot of tension with their housemates,” she said.

While most of her classmates met their friends while living in residence, Lake said she had to become more outgoing.

“It was difficult in first year for sure because I didn’t meet as many people,” she said. “I found I just had to put myself out there.” The distance between Lake’s grandfather’s house and campus has also made things like commuting more difficult.

“For a while, I didn’t have a car,” she said. “The bus doesn’t run out to Amhertsview after 6 p.m.”

While Lake said she has friends to visit during the day, being on campus without her own living space has created minor setbacks. “I think the only negative is that I can’t just go home and have a nap, or grab a book when I want to,” she said.

First-year off-campus

Jeff McCarthy has lived at home since his first year. As chair of the AMS’s First Years Not in Residence Students (FYNIRS) group, he said most first-years that live off-campus are far less involved in the Queen’s community than those who live in residence.

“For a lot of FYNIRS, not living in residence isn’t really a choice, it’s a matter of financial means,” McCarthy, ConEd ’12, said.

The FYNIRS committee provides a lounge space in the JDUC and also organizes monthly events to build a sense of community amongst the 150 first-years that don’t live in residence.

“You see that a lot of people who continue to be involved with our service are actually out of town,” he said. “It’s a lot different in terms of not having that common experience you have when you live in residence.”

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