Looking for Student Housing? Check Out These Tips.

In some ways, it feels like the semester just started. So, why are students already deciding where they are going to live next year? In recent years, seasoned Badgers have gotten used to making a housing decision just weeks after getting to campus. However, students that are new to Madison might be wondering how or where to start their student housing search.
Student pushing red cart during move-in
For Badgers currently living in the residence halls, start by completing your “Notice of Intent” between October 18-25 in My UW Housing. This notifies University Housing of your plans to return to the residence halls or live off-campus next year.

Once you’ve made your initial decision, these tips — plus some advice from UW–Madison’s Parent and Family Program — can help guide your housing decision for the upcoming year.

Returning to University Housing

On-campus housing isn’t guaranteed for students after their first year. However, you can still apply to return. Just select “yes” on your Notice of Intent and look for an email confirmation on October 30 with next steps on selecting a residence hall, room, and roommate.

Want to learn more about returning to the residence halls? Ask your house fellow or tune in to YouTube or Facebook on October 17 for a #LiveWithBucky informational event.

Moving Off Campus 

Off-Campus Housing Venn diagram showing three areas of price, location, housing
Three considerations when selecting housing are price, location, and amenities.

For those planning to move off campus, consider three variables to inform your decision: price, location, and amenities.

Price and Budgeting

A lease is likely your first step toward establishing rental and credit history, meaning it’s extremely important to define your price range before looking at properties. Create a monthly budget that includes regular expenses, plus estimates for utilities, renter’s insurance, parking, groceries, furnishings, and household goods. Need to reduce costs? Consider how sharing a bedroom, living slightly farther off campus, or using your free ASM bus pass could help.

For questions about applying financial aid to off-campus housing, please contact the Office of Financial Aid.

Location and Amenities

When it comes to local rental properties, the options can seem endless — which is both exciting and, possibly, a little difficult to navigate. Narrow your search by considering factors like:

  • Distance — How close is a property to your academic buildings and workplace?
  • Transportation — How will you get to class? Where is the nearest bus stop?
  • Culture — Is the neighborhood quiet or lively? What other businesses, events, or other activities are nearby?

Beyond the neighborhood, certain properties also offer unique amenities, from secure entry to onsite laundry and even luxuries like game rooms and pools. 

Additional Resources

Priorities and Roommates

Once you know your ideal price range, location, and amenities, decide which are the most and least important to you. This will help you navigate potential compromises. For example, a property may be affordable and in a great location but come without some features you could get for a similar price, farther from campus. 

Knowing your priorities will also help determine if a potential roommate is a good fit. Discuss these topics, as well as preferences on cleanliness, social habits, and quiet hours. If you notice any non-negotiable differences, consider how other arrangements may better align with your preferences and be a better living situation for you both.

Basic Needs Resources

Securing housing can be especially complicated if you’re experiencing financial hardship. There are resources to help meet students’ basic needs available through the Dean of Students Office and Office of Financial Aid. The Badger FARE program can offer financial support, and Open Seat food pantry supplies free food and hygiene products. For additional questions and resources, please contact the Dean of Students Office.

Have Questions?

The newest resource available to students and families while navigating the housing search is Off-Campus Housing Services within University Housing. You can also find resources through Campus-Area Housing, including an apartment touring checklist and listings for housing, parking, roommates, and sublets. 

Rewatch the Parent and Family Program’s recent Badger Family Forum for more information on finding your home away from home or contact Erin Warner, assistant director of Off-Campus Housing Services via email, for more information.