I spent four years at Queen’s as an undergraduate student, so when I was navigating the transition to graduate school, I felt confident that I knew enough about Queen’s, the Kingston housing market, and my personal living preferences and that the transition to off-campus living as a graduate student would be seamless. I ended up living in a six-person house this year (the first year of my MA), and I had lived in big student houses with 6 people in previous years in my undergrad. In hindsight, I wish I had reflected more on some of the differences between being in undergrad compared to being in grad school. I am sharing my reflections to support anyone who might be feeling a bit lost in navigating the transition to graduate school, especially in the context of your future living situation.

Even though I consider myself an extrovert, and have previously enjoyed living in big houses with lots of roommates, I have found that this kind of living arrangement might be best for the undergraduate level. Graduate school involves a lot more independent work - especially reading and writing if you are in an MA like me - and I work best in my room at home (as opposed to in my office or at the library). Because I spend more time at home doing work, I find I need a quiet living space much more than I did at the undergrad level - which is hard to achieve in a 6-person house (even when the other people may also be in grad school or upper-years of undergrad).

I have also found that being close to campus is less of a concern for me as a graduate student. Because I prefer to work at home, I am only really on campus when I have class (only 3 times a week), and when I have work. In Kingston, the cost of rent skyrockets as you approach campus, especially in the University District (roughly between Princess and Earl and Barrie and Alfred). Because grad students are often on a tight budget, it might be worth looking a bit farther from campus for accommodation.

If you are moving here from a different city, I would also keep an eye out on the sidewalks/curbs around the end of April for free furniture. Many students will leave perfectly good furniture on the curb when they move out. Queen’s OCLA also hosts a sustainable move-out event in April where you can get free furniture and other household items. By saving money on furniture, you can use that money elsewhere - like decorating your room to make it feel like home! I’ve found that since I have been spending so much time in my room, having it feel comfortable and decorated in a way that makes me happy is so important.

My final tip is to familiarize yourself with ‘third-places’ around your place and near campus where you can work/spend time when you need a break from working at home or on campus. While you might be like me and love working in your room with your favourite teapot near, or you might enjoy spending your time at the library, no matter where you study, you’ll likely get sick of it at one point or another. This is why ‘third-places’ are so important - somewhere you can go that isn’t home or work/school. I personally enjoy the Grad Club, as well as the many coffee shops in Downtown Kingston (Balzac’s is one of my favourites)!

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