While sitting on her front porch, Bridget Bugbee watches a highly inebriated guy struggle to stay on his bike before falling off in front of her house. Bugbee offers him some water, but in his drunken stupor, he declines and flirts with her instead. He then declares that he is on his way to get more beer and hops back on his bike, only to fall once more at the end of the street.
The secret life of downtown dwellers has many eventful stories, and witnessing drunken activities is only one of them.
The convenience of location is certainly one of the most appealing factors of living downtown, according to many.
“I would say I eat [at restaurants] more [than people who don’t live downtown],” said Bugbee, a fourth-year English and communication double major.
“But I also do other silly things. I’ll go to farmers market just because it’s super close, and I’m going to buy random things I don’t necessarily need like honey or something,” Bugbee said.
While other students struggle to bike for miles in the cold, have to wait for a crowded bus or need a car just to get groceries, downtown residents can simply walk to the store or campus.
“I love it,” said Annika Flink, a fourth-year wildlife, fish and conservation biology major. “It’s great. It’s my best year so far, and I think it has to do with the fact that we live downtown. It’s just close to everything. We can walk anywhere and rarely drive. A lot of my friends are close by [and] campus is so close. It’s nice to not have to worry about factoring significant amounts of time to travel from place to place.”
The decreased use of cars also meets Davis’ green standard of living. With the accessibility of restaurants, bars and shops at residents’ disposal and the campus a mere walking distance away, the world of downtown seems to be haven for a college-student-efficient way of managing finances. The money that is saved from gas can instead go to pricey textbooks, pricier tuition or the bars. A convenient social life certainly becomes easier to attain as well.
“Since we’re so close, I significantly have gone out more,” Flink said. “I don’t know about eating out, but definitely on weekends, we go to bars and stuff.”
But, arguably, the saved money from gas may simply compensate for the notoriously steep rent. Flink shares a three-bed/three-bath place with three people, who split the $2,050 monthly rent. Others have to share a room to halve a $1,400-per-bedroom rent.
Still, some residents have a better deal than others. Bugbee, who shares a three-bed/three-bath house with four people, pays $590 out of the $2,580 total rent per month. Others also pay as low as $438 on F and Eighth streets for a two-bed/one-and-a-half-bath residence.
“For how expensive Davis is, I’m paying a decent amount,” said Art Middleton, a master’s student in creative writing who shares a two-bed/one-bath house with one person and pays $600 out of their $1,200 monthly rent.
Downtown living also allows Middleton to enjoy the luxury of having a backyard, in which he said he has hosted events without much complaint from neighbors.
With restaurants so close, however, it is difficult to avoid the allure of going out to eat.
“It’s easy for me to go out to eat when I live next-door to a really good falafel place,” Middleton said. “I can easily convince myself to go out to eat, [and] it’s much easier to convince myself to go see a movie, too, considering I live close to all the theaters. And that definitely doesn’t help the wallet.”
Part of downtown’s entertainment also includes the (drunken) events that occur throughout the day and night, including Bugbee’s encounter with the lumbering bicyclist.
“Our trashcans are always flipped over,” Flink said. “I think people just go through and kick them over. I’m assuming it’s probably drunk people, but I’m not entirely sure.”
Trashcan flipping may indeed be a common activity, having also been seen with Bugbee’s trashcans, as well as at other apartment complexes. Still, there are even more peculiar sightings by downtown tenants.
“Last spring, we had three different runs of streakers down the street,” Middleton said. “[And] my neighbors across the street have chickens, so the chickens often get out of their pen and come across the street and hang out. It’s always funny to listen or watch people interacting with the chickens, like, ‘Where did these chickens come from?’”
However, downtown residents also worry about safety and inconvenience factors. Because it is in the middle of everything, there is certainly more traffic. Car traffic is a hassle when biking to school, while Bugbee said that foot traffic interrupts her sleep when there are track meets or practices early in the morning in spring. Fraternity and sorority parties, people screaming, couples fighting and other loud noises can be heard during weekend nights. The strident noises of the farmers market crowd can also interrupt an early Saturday morning.
Still, even with the weekend nuisances, the convenient location may outweigh downtown’s shortcomings.
“It took me waking up on my first day living here [and] packing a bag to go to the library for the first time to realize that [campus] is five minutes away,” Middleton said. “So it’s great. I can’t really trade [that] for anything.”
JOYCE BERTHELSEN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.