Pay to play: The cost of living in Old Town

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Apartment for sale on Turner Street, Lansing. Photo by Sergio Martínez-Beltrán

An apartment looking for a resident on Turner Street, Lansing. Photo by Sergio Martínez-Beltrán

By Sergio Martínez-Beltrán
Old Town Lansing Times staff reporter

Living in a vibrant neighborhood means having cultural and fun events right in your back yard, but it also means paying more for living in a prime location.

Old Town Lansing is one of those locations where the residents understand the reality of paying for the environment they live in.

“I love this area,” Old Town resident Sarah Christiansen said. “I fell in love with it before I lived here, or bought a shop here.”

Christiansen is also a business owner and part of the board of the Old Town Commercial Association — she rents the second floor of her store for residential purposes.

But living in Old Town includes amenities that are hard to find somewhere else.

Besides giving the impression of a small town, Old Town has a vibrant commercial life, with many local businesses, the Grand River and the Art District being part of Old Town’s offerings.

“I’m an artist and this is the artistic district and naturally this was the area that I gravitated towards,” Christiansen said.

But to put it in perspective, rent in Old Town varies from place to place.

For example, according to the real estate section of the Old Town Commercial Association, a 1,000-square-foot studio in Old Town is up for rent for $700 a month and a loft with two bedrooms and two bathrooms is listed for $1,150 a month.

However, in Downtown Lansing, for example, a one-bedroom apartment on Allegan Street has a starting price of $750 per month, according to the rental section of lansingdowntown.com.

“I’ve looked at places in Downtown Lansing and East Lansing and I felt that for the unique loft environment this was the best place, the best value for your money,” Christiansen said.

The cost of living in Old Town can vary due to the difference in space size.

“I think it is on par with the rest of Lansing, so the rental prices are pretty consistent as far as commercial property goes,” Christiansen said.

Old Town resident Lisa Smith has been in the community for 10 years — Smith also owns a marketing agency in Old Town.

“There is no question, it is very affordable,” Smith said.

Old Town Commercial Association Executive Director Austin Ashley said young professionals make up a big chunk of the demographics of Old Town.

But when it comes to live in the community, some residents such as Christiansen have waited before settling down in Old Town.

“I know that I was on a waiting list and I had to wait to like try to get my spot,” Christiansen said. “I feel it’s one of those places where people are interesting in living… I don’t think we have any spots that are open very long once they are available to rent.”

Sarah Christiansen's Katalyst Gallery building back side. Christiansen rents the second floor of the building for residential purposes. Photo by Sergio Martínez-Beltrán

Sarah Christiansen’s Katalyst Gallery building back side. Christiansen rents the second floor of the building for residential purposes. Photo by Sergio Martínez-Beltrán

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