Do you have any advice on living in State College for the summer?
April 23, 2014 7:56 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to be working in State College for two months this summer. Tell me about where to live and where to hang out!

I'll need to be on campus each day from 10a to 4p or so. It appears that everything is in easy biking distance to campus, so I'm not too worried about that aspect. I am primarily concerned with not living next door to a frat house or a ton of 19 year-olds (I'm 29). Are there pockets of State College that have a really heavy concentration of undergrads? From reading this question, it appears that going further east yields more young people - does that still hold true?

I also read this question, which gave me some ideas about what to do when I'm not working as well as where to buy my groceries. Any other spots I should check out? I love food, beer, coffee, walking, hiking, and biking.

Lastly, I've been looking at Craiglist for sublets. Is this the best place to look? Also, what is a reasonable amount to pay for a furnished studio or 1 bedroom? The things I'm seeing are $500-$700 (I live in DC, so these prices seem pretend).

posted by vakker to Travel & Transportation around State College, PA (4 answers total)
You'll be there during the summer. Most of the undergrads will likely be gone.

Oh, and yes, rent really can be that low. Rental rates in PA outside of Philadelphia (and even there to a certain extent) are ridiculously cheap compared to DC.
posted by valkyryn at 11:02 AM on April 23, 2014

Yeah, subrental rates tend to be low in the summer, as probably 75% of students have gone home and most leases are one year. So you get a lot of kids looking to put someone in there for the summer at anything above $0. Rental rates also drop off once you get further than a few blocks from campus, and it gets to be too far of a walk to class. You may have a harder time finding places farther out, though.

Basically, you will get a very heavy undergrad population for a block or two north of campus (Park Ave and north), a block or two west of campus (Atherton St and west), and maybe for four blocks south of campus (Beaver Ave and south). South is also where the majority of the fraternities are (Fraternity Row, but also scattered about). There isn't much directly to the east, as that's where Beaver Stadium and the Bryce Jordan Center and associated parking are. If you go past those zones, and stay away from the big multi-story apartment buildings like Penn Tower, you should be be away from undergrads. There are also some communities at bus distances from town, such as Parkway Plaza, but then you lose the interest of living in the town/campus.

In addition to Craigslist, couldn't hurt to check the classifieds in the Daily Collegian and Centre Daily Times.

Any other spots I should check out? I love food, beer, coffee, walking, hiking, and biking. Plenty of outdoors-y stuff in the area. Here's a site all about hiking in the area; I believe Mt Nittany is also a popular hike. It's rolling hills country, so good biking if you are reasonably strong.

As for's a college town, there are plenty of bars, although you may not want to hang with the crowd that is there. That said, it will be summer and much quieter (except for the weekend of Arts Fest). I was up there last summer for a Spikes game and the bars were dead on a Friday night. Zeno's and Bill Pickle's aim at an older crowd and have good beer selections. Cafe 210 is a little younger, but has a great outside space - one of the few in town.

Also, bear in mind that Central PA is normally hot and humid in the summer - it's a lot more like DC's summers than you might expect.

MeMail if you need more details.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:56 AM on April 23, 2014

Summers are very sleepy in State College. You likely won't need to worry about frat-house/party-scene issues unless you live, like, right on Beaver Ave in the middle of town. And maybe not even then.

Craigslist is a good bet for sublets, but if you'll be affiliated with the university, you might also ask your admin about possible departmental listservs, etc. where these things might be posted internally. Or type up an ISO-type announcement of your own and ask them to circulate it.

$500-$700 seems slightly on the low side for a furnished 1-bedroom (I had a friend that paid IIRC $800/month for a nicely furnished 1-bedroom with amenities, a couple years back), but maybe the short-term sublet exigency kicks down the price a bit. In any case, you probably won't need to pay more than $1000/month for even a fairly sweet 1-bedroom. The farther outside of town, you are, of course, the cheaper things get. If you're planning to bike, be aware that there are some serious hills, and not always great bike-lane markings.

Re: things to do, State College has a fantastic arts festival in mid-July. Definitely plan to be in town for that weekend, and if you've got interested friends/relations, that'd be a great time for them to visit.
posted by Bardolph at 11:58 AM on April 23, 2014

Nthing What everyone else has said about undergrads and living locations in the summer. It really does turn into this sleepy little town for the most part. Oh, yeah, and 500-700 seems to be the right ballpark for price. Maybe a bit cheaper if you opt for a room in a shared house.

Also, you're a grad student visiting for something? If you have a contact in the department (Im assuming you're working with someone at penn state for the summer?) ask them to forward an email to the grad-student list asking if anyone has/need a sublet. We get this all the time in my PSU department and there's almost always someone who is gone for the summer who needs a subleter.

Happy to answer other questions over memail.
posted by McSwaggers at 2:13 PM on April 23, 2014

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