By Alexander Niculescu


It was the spring of 2011— the flowers were blossoming, Stony Brook was doing renovations so incoming freshman don’t immediately think the school is ugly and I was on commute. Even though I live about two and a half hours away from school by train, I didn’t let that be a deterrent to living as comfortably and luxuriously as I could at a fraction of the price. 

However, I didn’t accomplish this by couch surfing at all my friends’ places before they kicked me out.

There is a storage facility called A Space Place Storage in Centereach at 21 Hammond Road that is a bike ride away from campus. At the time I wasn’t sure how many miles it was away from cam- pus: maybe four or five. But I was sure it’s a bike ride’s distance because that’s how I got there (Google maps now tells me it’s about six miles away).

What inspired me to use the facility was an article I had read when I was younger about an NYU student living in the library for a few years before being kicked out. Now, I’m no drifter, but the idea of living without limits and beating the system has always been appealing to me.

Once I passed by the storage facility on a bike ride to the mall, ideas starting flashing through my head and I couldn’t resist stopping in and asking some questions at the front desk. After a friendly negotiation, I got a chance to look at a 5×5 storage unit…I mean a 5×5 chill place.

At first, I was a little shy about using the space for what I truly wanted be- cause as much as I think being a drifter is cool, I didn’t want locals to think I was a vagabond. So I left some stuff like a Nintendo 64, some crates of clothes, just some conservative stuff. Once I started getting more comfortable with the space, I started thinking bigger.

Entrenched in my newly-found, grandiose property, I started leaving bottles of water and packs of snacks. In a way, I turned a storage unit into a halfway house. On one exhausting bike ride to the mall, I had to make a pit stop for a bike pump and a Gatorade because I got a flat tire and I was thirsty. Then, I started not bringing my book bag home, leaving some books in storage and some at home.

My back thanked me, and whenever I dropped my books off at the facility, a snack or two became my habitual pleasure. It was re- ally everything you have at home – clothes, food and comfort, minus the bed. I’ve never heard of a house you can’t sleep in, so I wouldn’t call it that. It was more like a hybrid between a locker and a home.

Now, I can see how this would not appeal to every- one and might not even qualify as a positive experience. However, the point is that you can get inspired enthusiasm and apparent convenience out of anything. All it takes is a little creativity.

We all know Stony Brook is a commuter’s school and if you aren’t getting scholarships, I know exactly how costly it can be in this economy. So don’t stress – try to cut a few corners and make your own niche. Long island isn’t for every- one. You don’t have to do it as cool as I do, but pick and choose the way you want to customize your living experience.

If you find that the spray-on tans, excessive amounts of diners, the lovely ghost town of a campus that is Stony Brook on the weekends and Long Island accents too overbearing, stay at home even if you live more than an hour away.

If you live in one of Stony Brook’s cramped dorms, you can still find great use in a facility like the one I found. And it helps so much more if you don’t want to carry stuff in between home and school. Come on, who needs to take that college fridge all the way back every semester?

*Note: don’t try to sleep in a storage unit. A lot of units are airtight. I also don’t recommend anyone actively live in a unit either.