Based on my two trips to Chicago, I've determined that I would most enjoy living on the north side of the city, even though that means commuting down to Hyde Park for class. I need nightlife and neighborhoods that have lots of personality, and I was really drawn to Lakeview & Lincoln Park. Plus, all the GSBers say everyone that doesn't live on the north side in 1Y moves up there in 2Y, so why not eliminate the additional move. I'm not into high rise living (feels too much like a dorm or hotel, in my opinion) so I've been looking at mid-rises, flats, rehabbed brownstones, and the like. All online mind you. Couple of sites I've found useful (not just for Chicago):
MBA Properties A free apartment locator service specifically for MBA students. Available for Columbia/NYU, Harvard/MIT, Kellogg/Chicago GSB, & Miami. You fill out a questionaire, they narrow down a list of properties that meet your needs, and they either take you on a tour if you're in town, or you can do a virtual tour online/over email. They also have a database you can search on your own. They seem like really cool people, and a current GSB student used them last year and gave them a strong endorsement.
Google Maps + Craigslist = Awesome What a genius idea. This is a great way to see exactly where the listings are so it's easier to eliminate apartments that are totally wrong and really zero in on apartments that are near your favorite places/landmarks.
However, I've done this research and now I've had a golden opportunity fall in my lap. My friends who live in Lakeview just moved into a new place that they love. It's a three flat of two bedroom apartments. The landlord lives on the bottom floor, they live in the middle, and two women live on the top floor. Turns out one of the gals upstairs is engaged and just bought a condo with her fiancee. They need to fill her spot around August 1st. It's a big two bedroom about 3 blocks from Wrigley Field, it has a sun deck, and my share would be $750-800/mo including partial utilities AND PARKING. This is a fantastic deal, too good to pass up. I had assumed I'd be living alone, I've been doing that the past 3 years and I figured it'd be easier and maybe worth the expense. This little opportunity has me rethinking that. My potential roommate is also a sports nut, has her MBA from Mizzou, and is a corp auditor who is traveling 60% of the time. In other words, PERFECT. Maybe too good to be true. So I'm trying to find a cheap ticekt to get to Chicago for Memorial Weekend, hang out with my friends, meet their upstairs neighbors & landlord, check the place out, and see what happens. If it's a match, then I'm done. If it's not, I can spend the weekend checking out other places too.
Haven't blogged much about financing my MBA, probably because I don't find it that fun/interesting. It's just one more hoop to jump through, and U of Chicago has made it pretty easy. U of C has their own loan program that has competitive rates, low to no fees, and it's very very simple. And the GSB Financial Aid officer rocks. So I'm not worried about it. I just wish they'd release the final figures for 2005-2006 tuition so I can finish my budget and send off my loan paperwork. Word is tuition will increase from the 36K neighborhood to the 38K neighborhood. Lovely.
I suppose I'm overdue in writing a "lessons learned from the application process" blog to sort of summarize my experience, where and why I think I succeeded/failed, etc, especially since applicants for Fall 2006 are sure to be gearing up soon. Maybe I'll put something together for my blogiversary in June, a retrospective of the year's highlights and lowlights. I'll also probably try to figure out the direction of this blog now that I'm no longer an MBA applicant. Is this an MBA blog, about my specific program and/or course of study and/or career track? Is it a personal diary with no limits? Is it a way to keep my friends and family up to date? Is it for entertainment purposes, or just a brain dump and a way for me to keep a written history of my life? I'm not sure yet, but it's something I'm thinking about, as are many of this year's MBA applicant bloggers. It'll be interesting to see where our paths lead, beyond just the programs we'll be attending in the fall.