DOWNTOWN | By Erin Weaver
Just a hop, skip and a jump from campus (or a roughly 20 minute walk, depending on where you start trekking), downtown Eugene is home to some of the city’s most popular locales and colorful characters — and most expensive apartments. The area draws a diverse range of businesses ranging from cafés to dance halls to galleries, and it’s all grouped around the central hub of the LTD station, meaning that residents can enjoy the luxury of mobility in their very own “backyard.” Also crucial to keep in mind is the noise of the area, as living next to nightlife hotspots also means dealing with the sound they generate. For those who want the social perks of living downtown but don’t want to deal with the area’s hubbub, the neighborhoods surrounding Skinner’s Butte are just proxy to popular nightlife spots, but the apartments nestled at the bottom of the butte are known to be quieter than their more central cousins.
Apart from the immediate campus area, downtown Eugene has arguably the most diverse (and crowded) nightlife scene in the city and is packed with places that suit a wide range of interests. The bars and clubs of downtown often come in clusters, which means that touring a handful of them of them is often just a trip around the block.
Café by day and bar by night, The Barn Light on Willamette offers a casual-but-classy, super-cozy atmosphere to peruse their signature cocktail menu. The Cowfish Dance Club sits right around the corner for those who aren’t content just sitting around, and features day-to-day specials that highlight local DJs. For the more intellectually-inclined, the First National Taphouse is only a minute away and advertises Ninkasi-sponsored trivia every Tuesday along with their wide selection of brews from the Pacific Northwest.
Wander just two blocks further toward 7th and you’ll find HiFi Music Hall with their live music and daily 3-7pm happy hour menu. The venue features both local artists and acclaimed bands from elsewhere — much like the neighboring McDonald Theater back down Willamette. These are just a few of downtown’s popular locales, and they’re all within walking distance of each other.
For all its perks, there’s one major downside to living downtown: the price. The two more popular apartment complexes of the area, 13th and Olive and Broadway Place, charge anywhere between $550 and $800 a month, and this often doesn’t include utilities. There are also some cheaper, smaller studios scattered around the district for those who feel location is more important than size.
WHITAKER | By Erin Weaver
In the past, the Whiteaker neighborhood (or “The Whit”) has been deemed a hippie hot spot and activism epicenter, an allure for anarchists everywhere. Now — while it’s still all those things — the district has flourished into a hub for Eugene art and culture and attracts a sizeable smattering of craft breweries and unique restaurants. Named after the first governor of Eugene, John Whiteaker, the neighborhood used to be considered a more seedy and crime-ridden part of the city and has seen much of Lane County’s political history; it was the gathering point for the Occupy Eugene movement, for example. Today, the Whit is rich in character and is, according to some residents, the epitome of “Eugene.” The neighborhood remains colorful and eclectic, home to a vibrant community and a huge array of local businesses that are some of the best (and most one-of-a-kind) the city has to offer.
Many of the establishments featured in any decent “Visit Eugene” guide are lined along the historic Blair Boulevard. The ultimate loop of Eugene’s most prominent craft breweries starts with Sam Bond’s Garage on Blair, swings up toward Ninkasi on Van Buren and Hop Valley on 1st, and bends back to Oakshire on Madison; each brewery is within a few blocks of each other, resulting in a 1.3 mile circle if you want to pop into each one (and why wouldn’t you?). The Whit is also home to some exceptional eateries: the Izakaya Meiji sushi company sits next to the crux of Blair and Van Buren and is open from 5pm ‘till 1am and features arguably the best sake menu in Eugene. Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen and BBQ, with its art-adorned walls and weekly live music, is just a block away, while the popular New Day Bakery and its home baked, locally-sourced goodies are right across the street.
Apart from the eclectic eateries and breweries, the Whit is also home to venues that help to foster the tight knit nature of the neighborhood’s community. The Blairally Vintage Arcade at 245 Blair Boulevard is a self-described “barcade” that hosts a variety of vintage games, pinball machines and delectable drinks; minors are even welcome up until 9pm. The iconic Red Barn Natural Grocery (that, true to its name, resides in a vintage barn-looking building) is just a few blocks down, and aside from being a health food mecca, it also serves up coffee and deli treats throughout the day.
The key word when looking at the Whit’s housing pricing is “reasonable.” Though generally the apartments of the neighborhoods aren’t as ritzy and new as some of downtown’s housing, they also aren’t as expensive — and what’s more, living in the Whit usually means occupying buildings with a little more character. Prices generally range between $400 and $600.
KINSROW | By Gabriel Dufurrena
Kinsrow isn’t so much a neighborhood as it is a surreal city unto itself. While it is accessible by bus or car, the large collection of apartment complexes is isolated from any other part of Eugene, or at least it appears to be. In reality, this daunting row of boxes is walking distance from two of Eugene’s major centers for entertainment: the Oakway Shopping Center and of course, Autzen Stadium. Living next to Oregon’s football mecca is only useful seven days out of the year, so that’s not justification enough to move there. The real reason so many people choose to live in Autzen strip is because it’s easy: it’s easy to get a room, it’s easy to move around (if need be), and it’s the easiest solution to house hunting in town.
The houses along Coburg are a different story. This neighborhood goes mostly untouched by student life. The accessibility to campus isn’t great, although with a car it is very doable. Despite this, the cost is about the same as houses by campus. Still, this area represents a side of Eugene that’s a little tamer, and that might be exactly what you’re looking for.
As far as the social scene goes, it’s nothing too exciting. There are parties, sure, especially in the summer when the pool becomes a hot commodity. However, the bar scene isn’t very vibrant, and the restaurant scene isn’t anything too special in the immediate Autzen area. For the most part, if you’re looking to go out on a Friday night, you’re either going to have to leave the neighborhood or go to Gateway, which is about a 10 to 20 minute walk away depending on where your apartment is. This is great if you want to see a movie or go shopping. It even has a Hometown Buffet for when your grandparents are visiting. Venture a little further north down Coburg and the scene changes. There are three main pockets of restaurants and bars within the reach of the 67 bus line. First is the Oakway Shopping Center, home to fast food options as well as the Ox and Fin, which prides itself of locally-sourced ingredients and a killer cocktail menu. Further down Coburg, there is a small pocket of restaurants like Buddy’s Diner and Dickey’s Barbecue Pit. Just past Costco sits one of Eugene’s best sushi joints, Izumi’s, which has a ridiculous happy hour from nine to close and is definitely worth the trip.
At an average rent of $500 per month, it’s a pretty decent deal for apartments. The same price will get an apartment about half the size closer to campus. If you have a car and don’t mind driving to campus, there are plenty of houses for lease in the greater Coburg area with rent averaging at $550 per person. This is about the same value as campus houses, but these neighborhoods are significantly quieter and typically attract a mixed crowd, not just students.