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Being boundless while on a budget

The Daily's budget friendly guide to living on campus

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For new students, and even returning students who haven’t been to campus in over a year, the prospect of managing your finances while getting the full college experience can seem daunting. In collaboration with The Daily’s editorial staff, Pacific Wave presents this guide to budget-friendly activities, eateries, and more:

Fun and Games

Virtual Reality at the HUB

  • “The UW opened its new Esports Arena & Gaming Lounge in the HUB basement in April 2019. The gaming center is equipped with 40 high-end gaming PCs, in order to support competitive gaming, casual play, and virtual reality, according to the [UW].” - Ryan Phelan, staff writer

  • “One of the really cool things about being a university and having a gaming space on campus is that different gaming developers and companies will want to work with us” - Hansen, manager of HUB Games.

Union Bay Natural Area

  • “The Union Bay Natural Area is surprisingly tranquil for how close to the UW it is, and even though the din of cars and the chopping of helicopters still cuts through the air, the animals — and the numerous people that are there to observe them — don't seem to mind.” - Matthew Hipolito, Co-News Editor

UW Golf Range

  • “If I learned one thing from playing golf competitively during the glory days of my youth, it’s that shared misery builds lasting friendships. And there is nothing quite as simultaneously miserable, frustrating, and cathartic as hitting a bucket of golf balls. If you show your Husky Card, you can buy a small bucket of balls for $3.25, and a large bucket for $3.75.” - Estey Chen, Co-Pacific Wave Editor

Gas Works

  • “Gas Works Park’s old, brown gasification plants are an automatically recognizable part of the average UW student’s Instagram feed. It’s an easy bus or car ride from campus and is perfect for a picnic, photoshoot, or chill time to enjoy the breeze, view of boats passing by, and the Seattle skyline. This is a super fun and easy place to enjoy alone or with a group of friends, especially in the fall and springtime when we can enjoy some sunshine too.” - Deb Kwon, Opinion Editor

UW running and climbing clubs

  • “The UW running and climbing clubs are both awesome — super lovely communities and great exercise. The running club is free, while dues are $25 for the climbing club. The climbing club provides some equipment, so it ends up being much cheaper than any of the other climbing gyms in the area.” - Annie Denton, Co-News Editor

The Collective

  • “The Collective is always great [for improv shows]. Once it was super sold out and we got there a little late, but they let us come in and sit on the stairs to watch the show.” - Trevor Hunt, Managing Editor

Laughs Comedy Club

  • “Even during midterms, the comedians at Laughs manage to make my anxieties momentarily fade away. The comedians do crowd work on college students, so it always makes for an interesting night to see which one of my friends is targeted during the stand-up set. On some nights they have special deals where multiple start-up comedians will perform for only a $5 entry fee.” - Martina Povolo, Co-Pacific Wave Editor

Ravenna Park Trail

  • “To outsiders, Ravenna Park looks like a wide grassy lawn where families push their children on the swings and old friends play a friendly game of tennis on the courts. Yet nestled between the tall trees is the neverending oasis of Ravenna Park Trail. The budding greenery surrounds you in all directions, as the hushed sounds of the creek follow your steps. On sunny days people swarm to camp out in the shade, whereas on cloudy days students bundle up for their morning runs with no mind for the mud. The depths of Ravenna Park replenish my mind from the city lights, and the best part is it is walking distance from campus, so no need to pay for gas or parking.” - Martina Povolo, Co-Pacific Wave Editor


Trader Joe’s

  • “For budget grocery shopping, forget the DM, Trader Joe’s is the way to go. For $25 I can get groceries for a week, and for $30, I get that plus a little delicacy. Their falafel mix is amazing in a pinch, they got tons of bread (their best is the sourdough boule), and their truffle dark chocolate bar is the perfect Friday night treat. Plus, they have a bunch of wine — if you’re into that kind of thing.” - Joshua Lee, Arts & Culture Co-Editor

Seattle Goodwill on the Ave

  • “I had no idea furniture was so expensive when I first moved out, and I am afraid of Ikea manuals; while the transport of goods may be a hassle, the Seattle Goodwill has cheap and more than decent desks, side tables, and comfy chairs. You can even get pretty killer matching sets of dishware and silverware. Don't stoop to washing plastic takeout silverware, just go thrifting.” - Dylan McKone, Web Editor


  • “When it was pouring outside and all I wanted to do was stay in bed instead of walking the long route to the Fisheries Sciences Building, the U-PASS got me there. When I needed to get to my emergency dentist appointment but the rideshare was too expensive, the U-PASS got me there. Technically, it’s not free — we pay for it in our tuition — but the U-PASS grants us prepaid access to all public transportation in Seattle, including the Link Light Rail.” - Martina Povolo, Co-Pacific Wave Editor

Dining out

The Alley

  • “The Alley is definitely my number one pick for when I’m hungry, it's chilly outside, and I really don’t feel like cooking. This place has a really homey vibe to it, and the near-infinite side dishes that are served with every order make the slightly higher price tag worth it. If you live on North Campus or near Ravenna, the walk to the bottom of the Ave is well worth it. I’d recommend getting the Jjajang Black Bean noodles and the Tangsuyuk, Korean sweet and sour pork, and splitting it with a friend.” - Kyle Bender, Development Editor

BB’s Teriyaki Grill

  • “BB's Teriyaki has it all. Cheap food, huge portions, and a styrofoam takeout container that gets slightly soggy with sauce — what more can you ask for? BB's takes a classic takeout meal and gives it a Chipotle twist, where you can load up on your choice of three sides, teriyaki meat, and sauce for under $10. Personally, I go for brown rice, stir fry, yakisoba, chicken, and spicy teriyaki sauce, which always hits after a long afternoon of studying.” - McKenna Zacher, Design Editor

Xi'an Noodles

  • "I visited this mainstay on the Ave with friends on an overcast Seattle Saturday and it was the perfect antidote for the cold weather. The spicy cumin lamb hand-pulled noodles are essential, as is the sour and spicy lotus salad. So many Americans' first experiences with Chinese food is American Chinese food, most of which loosely draws from Cantonese cuisine, as most of the early Chinese immigrants to the United States came from Canton — today's Guangdong. Xi'an Noodles offers an opportunity to venture north, as the Xi'an province is in northwest China, and sample a relatively underrepresented regional cuisine (in the United States) without hopping on a plane. Plus, the portions are generous — I had enough noodles left over to take home for a snack" - Estey Chen, Pacific Wave Co-Editor

Saigon Deli

  • “I used to go to Saigon Deli after my Thursday class on West Campus because it was a quick walk from the Architecture Hall. A good way to wrap up classes for the day! [I recommend] the $4.50 classic banh mi.” - Anthony Edwards, Co-Sports Editor

Cafe on the Ave 

  • "Cafe on the Ave will both delight and baffle you. Imagine a classic American diner in Seoul. Come for pastries and coffee during regular work hours — neither of which are standouts — but stay for this spot's transformation once it gets dark outside. The lights dim and Korean R&B and indie pop-rock will quietly thrum from the speakers. The full menu is vast, generous in portion sizes, and available at all times of day, so you can order tteokbokki, a tuna melt, and eggs benedict at 11 p.m. if that's what your heart desires. I can personally confirm that their kimchi fried rice is a delight after a late-night swim in a certain campus fountain." - Estey Chen, Co-Pacific Wave Editor

Ku Sushi and Izakaya 

  • “At Ku, you can choose from a variety of cheap sushi rolls that are half off during happy hour, as well as a plethora of traditional Korean street foods such as corn cheese. One of my favorite memories while living in the U-District was ducking into Ku on a cold and rainy day expecting some overpriced, QFC-level sushi, but after ordering the spicy geisha roll and U-District roll I returned the next day. Make sure to try the pork belly hot plate and load up on ssamjang, a spicy, nutty, and sweet Korean dipping sauce.” - Ryan Sun, Photo Editor

Snowy Village

  • “As a self-proclaimed connoisseur of desserts (really just someone with a huge sweet tooth), Snowy Village is definitely the number one on my list of go-to places. This place has it all: mouth-watering bingsoo, of which I recommend strawberry or ​​chocolate; taiyaki, which comes in flavors like original, Nutella, cheese, red bean, and bacon and cheese; and Instagram-worthy aesthetics sure to spice up your feed.” - Madison Morgan, Co-Copy Chief

Byrek & Baguette

  • “If you’re not careful you’ll almost miss Byrek & Baguette while walking up the Ave. It’s the ideal location for both a study spot with an iced chai or as a lunch spot with friends (just not during their peak hours of 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.). The chicken pesto sandwich is my favorite go-to — I always get the combo for $10.95 with the delicious fries, but soup or salad are good options too.” - Diana Davidson, Co-Copy Chief

The Palmer House

  • “A classmate invited me to go study with her my freshman year at what she called ‘the church cafe.’ Although initially hesitant — partially due to my religious beliefs, but mostly because of my social anxiety — I decided to give it a go. Little did I know the inviting ambiance of the Palmer House and its $2 lattes were soon going to become my favorite study (and coffee) spot near campus. Across the street from the Inn Seattle church, this suburban-home-looking shop is where many church-goers unite during the day for a quick pick-me-up between classes. Nevertheless, the Palmer House is inviting to everyone, no matter which belief system you hold.” - Martina Povolo, Co-Pacific Wave Editor

Cafe Solstice 

  • “During junior year I visited Solstice at least three times a week and at all times of the day. I was there at 8 a.m. before classes, between classes at noon, and in the afternoon before my shift at work. I sat as long as I could and worked at one of the cafe’s wooden tables with a latte and, sometimes, one of many delicious treats — a burrito, white chocolate banana bread, or cardamom cake. Although I mostly arrived alone, it was common for at least one of my friends to have dropped by for a coffee and to say ‘hi.’ Earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, the tables were repainted/refinished and now look fantastic.” -Irika Sinha, Co-Illustrations Editor

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