Finding a Place to Live in the USA

Finding a Place to Live in the USA

Congratulations! You have decided to study in the USA. Next, you have another important decision to make: where is the best place for you to live? This leads to many other questions, such as should you live on-campus or off-campus or is there a housing residency requirement at your university? The following information will help guide you through these choices.

On-Campus Living

Living on-campus can be a very exhilarating experience. Students who opt to live on-campus often make lifelong friends very easily and become active participants of campus life. Being right there on-campus means that classes are often within walking distance, so there is never the fear of being late to class. Most universities and colleges offer different housing options to suit each student’s lifestyle. When living on-campus, most schools require students to also purchase a meal plan.

At many colleges and universities, rooms come with air conditioning, cable TV, telephone and computer wiring. In addition, many residence halls have computing centers, recreational facilities, delis or snack bars, cafeterias, study lounges and laundry facilities. For example at the University of California, Irvine Extension, students studying in English as a Second Language (ESL) or certificate programs have the option of living in fully furnished University apartments. Four international students share a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment. These apartments are designed for students who want to make friends and enjoy campus life, but still want the freedom of living on their own. Apartment complexes include pools, Jacuzzis and some have fitness centers.

Stony Brook University offers fully equipped fitness centers in many of the on-campus living facilities. On-campus housing is extremely safe and each floor has its own resident assistant who is there to answer residents’ questions. In addition, each resident is given an access card ensuring that only the student or authorized guests can come into the building after hours.

Off-Campus Housing

Another option students can consider is to live off-campus. There are private apartments for those students who enjoy having their own space. In a private apartment, students can cook for friends and decide how to decorate their own space. There are also apartment buildings where a student can rent a room with a bathroom and share the common living areas with residents.

Many apartments come fully furnished and the rent includes water, cable, and electricity. There are often many additional incentives for residents that may include swimming pools, gym access, and access to clubhouse facilities, which may have movie rooms, pool tables, video games, etc.

Remember if you live off-campus you will need to budget for food, utilities and personal items. Students living in apartments near larger universities may be able to use a campus bus service, which often provides transportation to nearby apartment complexes.

Your U.S. program will probably have a housing office or housing director to help you locate safe, clean living arrangements near campus. Landlords will list vacant apartments with the school so you can do your research online or on the phone. These are usually in buildings where other students live, so you will be in good company.

At USF, students can easily find an affordable room in a three or four bedroom apartment. The apartment complex matches the student with roommates that have similar interests or habits. For instance, a student who likes to study at night is matched with other students who are also “night-owls.” Most complexes offer activities for residents such as pool parties or game nights. It is a good idea to take advantage of these fun activities to meet new people.

With so many options available, it is no wonder that choosing where to live is such a difficult decision. With the help of your school’s housing advisor, you should have no problem finding your new place to call home. Finally, be sure to check residency requirements because you may have to live on-campus for your first year.


Dormitory - 
Also called “dorms,” dormitories are living facilities designed to house students. A cafeteria is often located in the same building.

 - A living arrangement that involves staying with an American family.

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Sarah Kay is the Marketing Coordinator for INTO USF at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL.

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