Off-Campus Apartments & Shared Housing
Designed for independent living, an apartment is a residential unit inside a larger building. When you rent an apartment, you generally will have your own kitchen, bedroom, living room and bathroom. A studio apartment is the smallest type of apartment, combining a kitchen, sleeping area and living space into a single room.
In shared housing, you rent a single room inside of a larger house. You may share a bathroom, kitchen and living room with other occupants of the house. You may also have to contribute to household cleaning and other chores.
The University District is the most popular off-campus neighborhood for students. It is within walking distance of campus and has bus service to many points in the city and surrounding area. Rents in the U-District (as it is often called) may be higher than in other similar neighborhoods due to its proximity to the UW.
A variety of residential neighborhoods surround the University District. Bryant, Ravenna, Roosevelt and Wedgewood are quiet neighborhoods featuring housing of all types at prices lower than in the University District. Northgate is a more urban neighborhood with a large shopping mall and a major public transit center. Montlake is a peaceful community where many students live in shared housing. Capitol Hill is a vibrant urban neighborhood that offers a strong selection of apartments and shared homes at a range of prices.
The following resources can help you find an apartment or shared housing. These links and other information are provided as a service, and should not be interpreted as recommendations or endorsements.
- Nordheim Court and Radford Court are off-campus apartment communities for UW students managed in partnership with the university. Radford Court can accommodate families.
- Padmapper is a free site that lets you search for housing by location. It compiles rental listings from a large number of different sources. Another free site that lists available housing by neighborhood is Hotpads.
- The Seattle Times lists apartments and houses for rent in the Seattle area.
- The Daily, the UW student newspaper, provides listings of rentals and shared housing near campus.
- After you arrive in Seattle, you can search for housing in person by walking around the neighborhoods near campus, visiting local real estate offices and checking the bulletin boards at the Husky Union Building on campus.
Avoiding Scams. Most housing scams involve sending cash or wiring funds via Western Union, MoneyGram, money order, cashier's check or through some kind of “guarantee.” The other party's inability or refusal to meet face to face before a payment is required is a sign that something is suspicious. Please use caution. The following practices can help you avoid being scammed:
- Never wire funds via Western Union, MoneyGram or other wire service
- Never give out personal financial information (bank account number, credit card number, eBay/Paypal account information, etc.)
- Avoid deals involving shipping or escrow services
- Do not rent housing without seeing it in person
- Do not submit to credit or background checks until you have met the landlord or agent in person
Apartments and rooms may be furnished or unfurnished. An unfurnished apartment does not include beds, tables, chairs, sofas, lamps or small appliances, but it usually includes major appliances such as a stove, refrigerator and dishwasher. Furnished apartments are the most convenient option, but unfurnished apartments may be less expensive. If needed, you can rent furniture separately through a company like CORT furniture rental.
A rental agreement, or lease, is a legal contract that defines the terms of your rental, including the amount of rent, when rent is due, deposits and fees, damage policies, parking, maintenance and more. To avoid problems, make sure you understand the agreement completely before you sign it, and inspect the rental unit for damage before you move in.
Utilities include gas, heat, water, electricity, high speed internet, and trash removal.
Some apartments offer a fixed utility rate included in the rent that includes some or all of the utilities mentioned above. Ask your landlord or apartment manager what utilities are included in the rent.
If utilities are not included, you will pay a separate bill (or bills) for the utilities you use. The cost of utilities will depend on the amount of resources you use. How to spend less on utilities?
- Turn off lights when you do not need them
- Use heat sparingly in the winter
- Take shorter showers (use less water)
Also, the definition of utilities varies depending on the apartment complex. A broad scope of utilities to account for includes gas, heat, water, electricity, high speed internet, and trash removal. Ask your landlord or apartment manager for estimates of how much utilities will cost.