Technically speaking, Notre Dame isn't in South Bend, Indiana – it's in Notre Dame, Indiana. The campus has had its own post office since 1851. The University's founder, Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., saw securing a post office as a strategic advantage for the young college. "The regular passage of the mail coach under the college windows makes the college better known," he said, "and causes the public highways leading to it to be carefully maintained." In addition to our post office, we also have our own police and fire departments, on-campus bank, laundry service, Fed-Ex office, hair salon, and barber.
For undergraduates, Notre Dame's dorm life is an important aspect to their years under the Dome. Graduate students have a unique role in dorm life: the position of assistant rector in undergraduate housing. The Law School has the most number of graduate students serving as ARs, with more than 40 serving in dorms across campus in the 2017-2018 school year. With it comes a salary each semester, as well as on-campus housing, a meal plan, and special on-campus parking near the dorm they serve.
In addition, there is a small amount of on-campus graduate housing. If you want to live off-campus, there are a number of apartment complexes near campus or in the greater South Bend/Mishawaka area, most within a 10-minute drive to Notre Dame. There's plenty of variety for off-campus housing in close proximity to campus, with new construction and many options downtown. Rent is often half that of living in a major city, and is mere minutes from not only campus, but also shopping, dining, and entertainment.
Downtown South Bend has gone through a Renaissance in recent years, with millions spent in redevelopment of historical properties to revitalize business, dining, and entertainment. South Bend is a city that encourages creativity - more than you'd think of a Rust Belt town. For example, local developer Dave Matthews encourages local artists to paint murals on panels around his construction site on Niles Avenue in downtown South Bend. It's a growing technology hub of the Midwest, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is active in both local and campus culture. On the first Friday of every month, downtown South Bend throws a themed party with fun events, dinner specials, and plenty of live entertainment. Come out for the Fire and Ice February event, or the pooch-friendly Dog Days of Summer in September.
South Bend is also at the center of a growing craft-beer scene. South Bend and Mishawaka are home to several fantastic breweries, and it's only a short drive to Southwest Michigan to visit the "Craft Beer Trail" or "Southwest Michigan Wine Trail" and sample brews and wine from dozens of local producers. South Bend also hosts several craft beer festivals visited by breweries from all over the Midwest.
If you're itching for the big city, though, Chicago is just a short train-ride away on the South Shore, which runs daily from the South Bend International Airport to Millennium Station in downtown Chicago.