Winter on the Notre Dame campus
accommodations for visitors to the University are varied in type, amenities, and proximity to campus. Some general information about different categories of housing and local conditions appears below. When planning a visit to campus, be sure to take into account the academic calendar (leases sometimes coincide with the school term), seasonal variables (e.g., winter walking conditions), and the type of transportation (car v. public bus) available to you, in addition to cost.
The Local Community
The University of Notre Dame is located in Notre Dame, Indiana. Both the University and the municipality of Notre Dame are surrounded by the city of South Bend. Adjoining South Bend is the city of Mishawaka. Granger is a close-by suburban community bounded by South Bend and Mishawaka. Both Granger and Mishawaka are approximately ten to fifteen minutes from the Notre Dame campus by car.
Downtown South Bend is south of the University campus and accessible by bus or car.
A couple of small commercial areas (including a grocery store and several restaurants and service establishments) are within walking distance of campus. A larger retail shopping area in Mishawaka can be reached by bus.
Public transportation by bus is free for anyone with a University of Notre Dame identification card, but not all areas of South Bend are served by bus and frequency of service is a factor in determining travel times.
There is a bus stop right outside Hesburgh Library and direct service to downtown or to the University Park Mall is available. Other locations may require transferring at the downtown bus center.
Service is usually provided about once or twice an hour on weekdays, and less frequently on Saturday. There is some limited late-night service during the school year, and no Sunday service or service on some national holidays. The TRANSPO web site has online route maps and schedules.
The student dormitories on campus do not accept visitors. The limited on-campus options are generally beyond the means of junior faculty researchers, postdoctoral associates, or visiting graduate students.
While visiting faculty who will be teaching classes at Notre Dame can occasionally be accommodated in the graduate student apartment complex and faculty who are residential members of specific research programs can live at the Hesburgh Center, other academic visitors who will be on campus for several weeks, months, a semester, or an academic year must make their own arrangements off-campus for housing.
Finding Off-Campus Housing
Locating housing off campus can be challenging for first-time visitors and those with limited housing budgets. There is no rental apartment locator service formally connected with the University and no University directory of private landlords. Student government maintains a web site (The Off-Campus Connector) that is aimed primarily at undergraduates, who frequently share apartments or houses with multiple roommates at per-bedroom rates. Visitors can consult general referral websites, like craigslist.com, which offer places for members of the local community to list rental property descriptions. See the “et alia” list at the right for more starting points for housing searches.
Depending on their length of stay, visitors have several types of housing options.
The University has an on-campus hotel, the Morris Inn, and there are other hotels that are about a 15- to 30-minute walk from the center of campus. These are: the Ivy Court Inn, the Inn at St. Mary’s, and the Hilton Garden Inn South Bend.
About 10 minutes from campus BY CAR are a number of other national chain hotels and motels (e.g., Comfort Suites, Holiday Inn Express, Quality Inn, etc.). Note that these hotels do not normally offer shuttle service to campus. You will need to take the bus or use a self-driven vehicle or local taxi. To identify local accommodations in this area, look for street addresses on SR-933, US 31N, or Dixie Way (all refer to the same highway by different naming conventions). The area includes a number of family-style restaurants and fast-food establishments.
Hotels and bed and breakfast inns in downtown South Bend are beyond walking distance from campus but in an area that offers some upscale dining choices in addition to more casual fare. Motels that advertise as being in Mishawaka near Grape Rd., Main St., or the University Park Mall are about 10 to 15 minutes from campus BY CAR and offer varied dining options. For visitors without cars, lodgings near the South Bend airport are impractical.
Book your hotel accommodations in advance. South Bend gets a fair number of summer travelers who find it a good stopping point on the way to and from Chicago (which is less than two hours of highway driving away). During football weekends in the fall and during large-scale campus events, like commencement, rooms are VERY hard to find in South Bend and often more expensively priced than at other times of year. Low-end national chain hotel rates begin at approximately $40/night plus taxes, with high-end hotel rates at over $200/night.
A modest alternative to hotel and motel chains is the Sacred Heart Parish Center, run by the on-campus Catholic parish. It has very simple, dormitory-style rooms with communal bathrooms. The rooms have no air conditioning, so they can be quite warm in the summer, especially those on the upper floors. Some short-term visitors, particularly those who do not have cars and whose needs for amenities are simple, find this a satisfactory housing solution. You can reach the manager of the Center, Mary Fonferko, by email, or call her at 574-631-9436.
There are several “extended-stay” hotels that have opened recently near campus (e.g., Suburban Extended Stay Hotel) and others in Mishawaka (e.g., Extended Stay America, StudioPLUS). They offer efficiency-apartment or one-bedroom accommodations with fully equipped in-room cooking facilities. These facilities can offer good choices for visitors who plan to stay for a week or two and can afford a weekly rate around $450+.
Some local hotels/motels may offer discounted room rates for stays of a week or more. Call them directly to make inquiries.
For visitors who will spend three months or more at the Medieval Institute, renting an apartment or house is probably the best choice. While rental prices in the South Bend area are low compared to more urban areas of the country, proximity to campus comes at a premium.
Some homeowners in the South Bend area rent out spare bedrooms and offer lodgers shared use of their kitchen and other facilities. Off-site landlords who own multi-bedroom houses frequently rent bedrooms to individuals (mostly undergraduate students) who share common cooking, living, and bathroom areas.
Visitors should note that many landlords prefer to rent living quarters for a full academic year, rather than a few months. Since housing around the immediate campus is geared toward student tenants, rental properties and their furnishings (if any) tend to be well-used, with very simple amenities.
In general, local apartment complexes offer unfurnished units, although occasionally the management can furnish an apartment for an additional fee. At least one local furniture rental company offers month-to-month leases for individual items (e.g., beds and mattresses), selected rooms (e.g., kitchen, bedroom, office), or specific types of housewares.
Housing costs vary significantly, based on location. “Walking distance to campus” is a subjective concept, and visitors should keep in mind that winters in South Bend can be severe and both spring and fall have noticeable rainfall.
At the time of this writing a bedroom in a single-family, private home with shared kitchen and bathroom might run from $300 to $600 per month, depending on proximity to campus. Some homeowners may request a deposit prior to occupancy.
An unfurnished, efficiency or one-bedroom apartment within walking distance of campus can range from $450 to $900 per month. Utilities may or may not be included (and start-up of utility service usually requires a deposit and/or nonrefundable installation charge).
Furnished, efficiency or one-bedroom apartments near campus generally start around $600 per month and can run to $1,200 for newer sublets in near-campus condominiums or townhouses.
Furnished, one-bathroom, two-bedroom homes within walking distance of campus start around $1,000 per month and may or may not include utilities.
Costs provided here are intended only as general guidelines and can vary widely in specific cases.
Medieval Institute Visitor Housing
Given the challenges to visitors in finding temporary, local housing, the Medieval Institute rents some properties in the campus area and makes these furnished, shared accommodations available to its visiting researchers, at a subsidized rate, whenever possible. No housing is guaranteed to visitors by the Medieval Institute and offers of housing are made on a case-by-case basis, as space is available. Usually, two persons are asked to share a modest, two-bedroom, one-bathroom, fully furnished house within walking distance of campus. If visitors prefer to seek out lodging on their own, they are welcome to do so, but the Institute cannot provide formal assistance with their efforts.
Convention and Visitors Bureau: Where to Stay (a guide to local hotel/motel/bed & breakfast accommodations in South Bend and Mishawaka)
South Bend/Mishawaka 2011 Visitors Guide (information on local housing, maps, transportation, and more)
rentals.com (lists of apartment complexes and owner-listed house rentals; most are unfurnished)
apartmentguide.com (lists of apartment complexes; most are unfurnished)