Many characterize Davis as the ideal college town, part of which includes students’ satisfaction with apartment renting.
ApartmentRatings.com ranked Davis as 2009’s best college town in the country for renters in a list that showcases the popularity of various college towns around the nation.
Davis came out on top of 85 other towns in the running, far outranking Harvard University’s Cambridge, Massachusetts, which finished last. In 2009, the US News & World Report college charts listed Harvard University as the best college in the world.
“This was actually the first year we’ve done it,” said Apartment Ratings public relations manager Joe Ewaskiw. “We took the 100 largest college towns or cities, and we looked at their profile page and filtered the ones with the highest overall satisfaction score.”
The rankings are predicated on a tenant’s satisfaction with a rental unit based on criteria that directly relates to the housing experience. Raters consider parking, construction, safety and noise among the areas of assessment when submitting a review. Users also provide an “overall” rating that may be influenced by non-apartment factors such as their opinion of the actual city of Davis itself.
To date, Davis has received 1,767 renter reviews on the website for 113 different apartments and complexes. Ewaskiw said the majority of those reviewers praised their apartment’s safety, maintenance and noise level.
Nicole Evans, a sophomore civil engineering major, specifically viewed maintenance as one of the fortes of her Force Arms apartment complex near Cuarto.
“A lot of stuff has broken, but the management fixed it right away,” she said.
When she learned of Cambridge’s low ranking, Evans could relate. She had visited The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which like Harvard is also located in Cambridge, and found the town lacking.
“We were in this really bad part of town,” Evans said, recounting what she and her family thought of the town in MIT’s immediate vicinity. “But it was right next to [MIT’s] campus.”
Senior neurobiology, physiology and behavior major Darcy Ward said the staff of her current abode at Drake Drive and Anderson Road is equally devoted to maintenance, as it performs maintenance checks every quarter.
Davis landlords make apartment maintenance a priority. At Pepperwood Apartments, a section of the lease explicitly details to occupants that they are responsible to report maintenance issues for both their benefit and that of the apartment as a whole.
“I’m 100 percent maintenance-oriented,” said Pepperwood Apartments landlord Russell Van Hecke. “Why wait a week to report something like [a broken garbage disposal] when we can get down there and fix it the same day?”
Davis’ top-spot in the rankings does not preclude it from overtly negative reviews. One anonymous user lambasted the Chaparral Apartments on Sycamore Lane in a review posted September 2004.
“It’s great if you like having an extra 20 roommates year-round,” the user said. “Of course, with the company comes the poop the mice like to leave behind everywhere.”
Another anonymous user review, posted in 2009, reflected a more positive opinion of the Chaparral Apartments and mentioned nothing of a rodent problem.
“The actual apartment is spacious, well-designed and pleasant,” the user said. “On the whole, I have enjoyed living here.”
ApartmentRatings.com houses the largest online community of apartment raters on the web, according to a press release, with over 900,000 ratings logged into its database. The site launched in 2000 and today ranks among the most visited apartment search websites.
Many students are unaware of the service, despite its reported high standing among the pantheon of apartment-rental sites.
In Ward’s four years at UC Davis and Evan’s two, both said they had never come across the website. Many freshmen, currently in the process of signing housing leases, responded in the same vein.
YARA ELMJOUIE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.