When it comes to living in downtown Athens, accessibility is key, but at what cost do downtown residents pay for being in the heart of the town? For these students, the parking battle is constant—yet, worth it?Why It’s Newsworthy: While luxury student apartments are attracting students downtown, there are issues facing residents who live in older, more traditional apartments in the downtown area.
Caroline Wigmore, a 21-year-old entertainment media studies major from Suwannee, lives in University Towers downtown. Not having a car isn’t an issue for Wigmore as all of her classes are on north campus and most places are a five minute walk.
“Knowing I was living downtown, the bargain was with my parents that I would keep the car at home and just walk everywhere,” Wigmore continues. “My roommate has a car, and he has like $300 in parking tickets.”
For Taylor Kemmeling, a 23-year-old advertising student from Cumming, and her roommate Emily Carter, a 22-year-old human development and family science major from Hartwell, parking is anything but consistent.
Kemmeling and Carter live with two roommates in an apartment above office buildings downtown. There’s meter parking outside of their apartment, but their designated parking is under a pavilion behind The Classic Center. During game day weekends, the roommates are required to move their cars to a parking deck or gravel lot behind the pavilion. They said they receive emails from both The Classic Center and their landlord.
When they first moved in, Kemmeling and Carter said they didn’t move their cars fast enough and discovered that they were towed. At first, they thought their cars were stolen, but after what Kemmeling describes as a “manhunt for our cars,” they found them in a parking lot not even a football field away in another Classic Center lot.
Benefits of Being Downtown
The appeal of living downtown for Wigmore is convenience. She can walk to shops, bars and concert venues without worrying about Uber surge rates. Wigmore said she enjoys the freedom and doesn’t feel isolated.
“It’s really just convenient. I didn’t even realize how much I go downtown or how much I’m in class and want to get something from home,” Wigmore said.
Wigmore recommends living downtown for others with fast-paced, busy lives.
“As much as we do complain about parking and how much of a headache it is, we don’t have to worry about parking like 10 miles away; we don’t have to worry about driving to class or anything because we’re so close,” said Carter.
Unless you’re a light sleeper, Carter would recommend living downtown to other students. There’s ample opportunities downtown for events and other entertainment; for this reason, Carter said she doesn’t regret living downtown at all.
Even though Wigmore said she loves living across from north campus there’s one thing she wasn’t expecting—the bell. Celebrating fans on Saturdays are one thing, but she said that the iconic bell tolls at all hours of the night during the week.
In Kemmeling and Carter’s apartment downtown, sound is also an issue as their windows are thin enough that they can hear entire conversations of passersby from their bedrooms.
“You hear everything. When people come home after they’ve been going out or something, you almost feel like you’re in the conversation with them because it’s like you hear everything,” said Kemmeling.
There’s also a CrossFit gym across from their apartment. So, at 6 a.m. they’re awoken by music and screaming.
One thing Wigmore would change is parking. If there was more on-campus parking, or another parking deck downtown, it would be much easier for students to live downtown.
“Can we get parking passes for right outside our house?” Carter said with a laugh. Kemmeling adds, “I suggest they should give more parking to people that live downtown just ’cause it is such a hassle, but I don’t really see that happening.”
Becca Beato is a senior majoring in journalism in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.