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California Living

A variety of housing options are available. Choose an option that fits your budget and lifestyle.

California is a desirable place to live and housing will likely be your highest monthly cost. UC students are accustomed to living together, sharing common spaces and sharing a bedroom. Beyond cost savings, there are many advantages to having roommates. Your roommates might introduce you to student life, the cuisine of their culture, welcome you in their family and be an important part of your study abroad experience.
UC students are serious about their studies and spend time in study spaces, cafes and the library. Campus libraries are generally open until late in the evening and have further extended hours over examination periods. UC students can also be very serious about their socializing and the shared housing space may not be a quiet place for study.

Housing Prioritization

The University of California guarantees housing to all first-year students (freshman). Freshmen students are generally younger and are perhaps away from home for the first time. After freshman housing is determined, housing can be assigned to other students. If campus housing is available at your host UC, you will be eligible to apply for housing and receive an offer at the same cost as for UC students.

University housing contracts require a commitment through the end of the academic year (May/June) or through the end of your UC studies (early termination fees may apply). You may not stay in university housing for the first term and move to alternative housing in subsequent terms. Apply to university housing only if you are able to commit to live there for the full period of your study abroad.

Some campus housing facilities may close or have limited meal service during term breaks. Read your contract carefully and plan accordingly.

Residence Halls

The majority of students in the residence halls are first- year or second-year (sophomore) students, but there are also options for more advanced undergraduates called “transfer” or junior/senior year level.

Resident assistants (RAs) are student peers who live in the residence hall and implement programs to promote individual growth, connection to the university and development of an inclusive community. RAs help residents with a wide range of concerns and ensure that residence conduct policies are respected. The legal drinking age is 21 and alcohol is prohibited in most residence halls.

Residence rooms usually include basic furnishings (bed, desk, dresser or closet) and may have a furnished common living area. but you must provide your own linens. You can choose a meal plan that suits your needs.

University-Owned Apartments

Many UC campuses offer on or off-campus furnished apartments. Apartment living allows you to prepare and share your favorite foods but you can purchase a campus meal plan if you prefer. You must provide your own linens.

International Housing- Where available, you may wish to consider living an internationally themed residence. The “I-House” mission is the promotion of intercultural understanding, and houses are open to both international and domestic students. Programming and events allow you to share your culture and learn about the cultures of others.

Co-Operative Housing (“Co-Op”)

Co-op living is a good option for students who need to keep housing costs low and are interested in being part of a community. Resident members contribute to the daily operations of the house by performing work-shifts that may include washing dishes, cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming common areas, weeding the garden, cooking meals, office work etc. Since co-operative living requires student participation, it may not be appropriate for all students. Smaller co-op houses may be quieter and cleaner, while larger co-ops provide opportunities for meeting more students.

Community Housing

Students who are looking for an independent living situation can share the financial responsibility and daily chores by teaming up to rent off-campus housing. Kitchens in rental housing are typically equipped with appliances (stove, cook-top, and refrigerator). Rentals near campus may or may not be furnished, but students can furnish their apartments inexpensively through yard sale and thrift shop finds. Shared, off-campus housing can be a cost effective option. Plan for higher costs in the first month since you may need to pay the equivalent of the first month’s rent, the last month’s rent, and a security deposit. Utilities, such as gas, electricity, water, and trash may or may not be included in your monthly rent.

Interview prospective roommates to ensure that you have compatible interests and habits.

Beware of scams (a dishonest scheme or a fraudulent offer). These primarily appear as online advertisements that may be low cost and very attractive. The contact person may insist that you send them money for housing accommodations even though you have not yet visited the property in person. When students show up to the address, the place is unavailable or does not exist. Confirm the reliability of housing with the campus community housing office (see below).

If you are not able to arrange for housing prior to your departure, plan to arrive several weeks in advance of the start of the term to visit rentals in person and meet with prospective roommates. Immigration regulations allow you to arrive no more than 30 days before the start of the term.

Community Housing Office and Resources

Finding an off-campus rental can be challenging.  Your campus’ community housing office can provide rental resources and advice about your rights and obligations as a renter. This service cannot find housing for you but they can offer advice and provide resources for your housing search.

Housing Terms

Utilities: Gas, electricity, cable television, Internet, water, trash or other services.

Lease or Agreement: A legal contract defining the length of stay, price and conditions of a rental commitment. Do not sign a lease for more than the amount of time you will stay. You are responsible for paying rent the entire length of the lease.
A special arrangement to rent space in an apartment or home taking the place of a current renter. Sublets are attractive because they are often short-term opportunities with furnished rooms. The property manager or property owner must agree in writing that a sublease (sublet) is possible.

Deposit: An additional preliminary payment, usually no more than one month’s rent, required to compensate for any damage or necessary cleaning at the end of your stay. The deposit should be returned to you if there is no damage to the space and it is clean.

Credit Check: A process in which the property owner verifies your credit history and confirms your bank information. International students who do not have a credit history in the US may be asked to identify a US cosigner (sponsor). If you do not have a US cosigner, it may be necessary to negotiate an agreement with the property owner for an extra deposit, higher rent, or other documentation of your financial status.