If you prefer to live more independently or have more flexibility with your move-in and move-out dates, off-campus housing may be a good choice for you.
Apartments or Shared Homes
Apartments are residential units 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 a shared home, you rent a single room inside of a larger house or apartment. You may share a bathroom, kitchen and living room with other occupants. You may also have to contribute to household cleaning and other chores.
How to Look for Off-Campus Housing
The following resources can help you find an apartment or shared housing. This information is provided as a service only; it should not be interpreted as a recommendation or endorsement.
- 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 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 (HUB) on campus.
The University District is the most popular off-campus neighborhood for students. It is within walking distance of campus and has bus and light rail 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.
Nearby residential neighborhoods with good access to UW main campus and downtown Seattle:
- Bryant, Ravenna, Roosevelt and Wedgwood
Quiet neighborhoods featuring housing of all types, some which may be at prices lower than in the University District
An urban neighborhood north of the UW campus with a large shopping center and a major public transit center
A peaceful community where many students live in shared housing
- Capitol Hill
A vibrant urban neighborhood that offers a strong selection of apartments and shared homes at a range of prices
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.
Utilities include gas, water, electricity, high-speed internet and recycling 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'll pay a separate bill (or bills) for the utilities you use. Ask your landlord or apartment manager how much you can expect to spend on utilities.
You may be able to reduce your utilities costs by limiting the amount of resources you use. Here are some ways to spend less on utilities:
- Turn off lights when you don't need them
- Use heat sparingly in the winter
- Take shorter showers to use less water
How to Apply
The application form and process will vary from property to property. Here’s what you can generally expect:
- Contact the landlord or property manager to tour the place and learn more. Make sure to see it in-person before you pay any deposits.
- Fill out an application form and a background check form. You may be asked to find another adult to be your guarantor (co-signer).
- Pay an application fee or a deposit
- Receive an answer in approximately two to 10 business days
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. Talk over everything with your potential landlord. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
IELP students should be wary of housing 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.” If the landlord or apartment manager refuses to meet face to face before asking you for a payment, that’s 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
- Don't rent long-term housing without seeing it in person
- Don't submit to credit or background checks until you have met the landlord or agent in person