You can just live at Columbia, no? It's a beautiful campus. If you'll be there often, you can probably also find a place in Harlem. It really depends on how much you want to pay on rent. The UWS is great - I used to live there myself - but ridiculously expensive. If you don't mind having to commute, you can try Brooklyn. (Friends of mine found a place in Crown Heights that's just nuts - three bedrooms, two bathrooms, huge modern kitchen - but a tough commute. It literally takes them an hour to get to work, door-to-door. And they don't work all the way up in Columbia.)
I don't really know what kind of suggestions you need (maybe all the above was not necessary), but happy to help if you have queries about anything specific.
Yeah, I would prefer to live closer to school. I've been looking at a lot of crime maps recently as I look at potential renting places.
My friend is checking out a place for me in UWS that isn't too bad price wise so hopefully that will work out.
I could do some parts of brooklyn since it's hipster-y enough for my tastes.
but I would most prefer west harlem, washington heights, UWS, or downtown.
I also messed up my housing application, so they gave me my first choice which ended up being a really expensive ($8000 a semester), and if I get re-added to the wait list, I'll be so far down the list I won't get anything. I don't really want to live on campus though so hopefully I can figure something out.
I've been visiting student at Columbia for six months
Oh yeah? How have you liked it there?