Senior Staff Writer
When I first arrived at UC Santa Barbara’s (UCSB) off-campus Santa Ynez apartments, I thought these apartments were old, in the middle of nowhere, and unsafe. But a year later, this was proved to be untrue as I lived here for that year and subsequently chose the same apartment again the following year. Despite its distance from campus and its older look, I enjoy this apartment complex as it serves as an escape from a long, stressful day at school and is a good enough distance to get away from the hustle and noise of Isla Vista (I.V.).
The Santa Ynez apartments lie in the middle of El Colegio Road, a five-minute bike ride and a three-minute drive if all the lights are green. The apartment complex comprises one- or two-story buildings with two bedrooms and a patio or balcony. My apartment lies in the heart of Santa Ynez, where I live with four other girls split into two rooms. While it may seem complicated with five females under one roof, we make it work. It helps that our apartment has a good-sized living room and kitchen with a full-size refrigerator, gaslight stove, oven, and plenty of counter and drawer space. These apartments can accommodate approximately 800 students in a school year and are within walking distance from the Portola dining hall.
Additionally, Santa Ynez makes one feel like living in a campsite because of its seclusion and mountain views. Each apartment’s design has old cream stucco with red roofs that give the complex a homey vibe. The inside is plain with navy and white highlights and is fully furnished with a table, chair, couch, and coffee table. My first impression, however, thought otherwise. When I first walked into this apartment, I thought it was an absolute dump and too far from everything. But because my apartment is tucked in and across the street from I.V., it feels as if everything is at a comfortable distance. I do not venture off into I.V. as much as most students because I enjoy staying at my campsite to escape the madness after a long day.
Besides the homey-looking campsites and surrounding views, Santa Ynez has everything a student needs to enjoy their stay:
I only liked cooking once I got to college because all the Santa Ynez apartments have a full-size kitchen. It forced me to get my act together and learn how to cook, whether I liked it or not. I remember my first meal consisted of undercooked chicken and burnt Brussels sprouts. But since then my cooking has only gotten better, and now I’m flipping burgers and cooking New York strip steak on a Tuesday night. Despite the good meals and conversation shared with roommates at the end of the day, I hate that I cook for an hour, eat for ten minutes, and then clean the dishes for an hour. I am not complaining, but it would be nice not to spend an hour scrubbing the burnt grease on my pot.
2. Laundry Room
The laundry room in the middle of the apartment complex is equipped with plenty of washers and dryers. While our laundry loads are free this year, the machines are closed for two weeks due to renovations. Conveniently, if I want a late-night snack, I can walk to the vending machine in the laundry room to find something to satisfy my sweet tooth.
3. Local Gym
About 50 steps from my apartment is the local Santa Ynez gym with treadmills and ellipticals, stationary bikes, Smith machines, lifting equipment, and a small area to do your ab routine. I utilized the gym a lot last year, especially in the morning before class because of how close it was to my apartment. It’s nice to not take the trek all the way down to the Recreation Center at UCSB if I get home late from class.
4. Community Centers
There are three community centers for students to study, microwave their food, play the piano, or play a pool and ping pong game. The Jameson Center consists of games to decompress from a long day. The farthest one is Cachuma and is a 24-hour study room. Lastly is Gibraltar, another 24-hour quiet study room that holds our complex’s printing hub. These centers offer a change of scenery from the library and University Center for students to get away from.
Sometimes, visiting an Amazon store or the USPS office in I.V. is inconvenient. With that in mind, our apartment is within walking distance of our mailing box, which can deliver any size package. So, I can stop at the mailbox on the way home from class or in my pajamas. I also enjoy walking to the mailbox randomly at night to check if I have anything, even though I already went in the morning.
The most important thing to my college experience is being safe where I lay my head down at night. My biggest fear was a break-in, especially since I live in a one-story apartment. Ultimately, I feel very safe living in Santa Ynez because I am tucked away from all other forms of life, or at least, from what it seems like. As a female, I have been on my patio late at night and never felt unsafe outside. Thankfully, neither my roommates nor my bikes have been stolen (knock on wood), which is just a plus to living in Santa Ynez.
So, if you need housing next year, consider choosing Santa Ynez because I did, and I do not regret a thing.