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A Freshman’s Guide to Student Housing at the University of Florida (Updated for 2024)

By Caroline

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to UF, and you’re moving to Gainesville this fall. Now that you’re officially a Gator, it’s time to decide where you’re going to live for your freshman year. 

Finding housing at the University of Florida can be difficult, especially if you are a first-year student who is not familiar with the student housing market in Gainesville.

Read next: Where Do UF Students Live?

At Sweetwater, we have helped hundreds of students find their home for the school year, and we understand how overwhelming the search for housing can be. For this reason, we are taking you through every step of the process, from what housing is available in Gainesville to whether you should live on-campus or off-campus. We will answer our most-asked questions, including:

Ultimate Guide to Freshman Housing near UF

group boys and girls walking in the plaza of americas

What housing is available near UF?

There are many types of student housing to choose from, including on-campus residence halls, off-campus private dorms, and off-campus apartments. Although freshmen are not required to live on-campus, it is common for underclassmen to live in the UF dorms. If you’re not interested in the on-campus dorms, some freshmen choose to live in student housing apartments off-campus. In fact, only 22% of UF students live on campus!

On-Campus Dorms vs. Off-Campus Housing

There are three main types of housing to consider for your freshman year:

  • On-campus dorms/residence halls
  • Off-campus (private) dorms
  • Off-campus apartments

On-campus dorms are the most common option for freshmen at UF. These are owned and operated by the University of Florida. On-campus dorms come in a variety of hall layouts, including traditional, suite-style and apartment-style. Traditional halls consist of single, double and triple rooms, with a community bathroom and kitchen on the floor. Suite-style halls offer single, double suite and super suite layouts, where you’ll have a bathroom connected to your room that you share with a few suitemates. Finally, apartment-style halls are set up similar to a traditional apartment, with either a shared or private bedroom, a semi-shared or private bathroom and a kitchenette. Depending on which hall you live in, there will be variation in floor plans. I’d recommend researching each hall to decide which one you think will suit your lifestyle the best.

The private off-campus dorms are designed to create an experience similar to the on-campus dorms, but are not affiliated with the University. Off-campus dorms provide similar floor plan options to on-campus residence halls, such as suite-style or single rooms. Some of the most popular ones include Ivy House and Windsor.

Lastly, you can find numerous student housing apartments around UF. The main difference between an apartment and a traditional dorm is the size of your living space, like a kitchen and a living room. UF students who live off campus typically live on University Avenue, 13th Street or Archer Road.

Read Next: Where to Live Off-Campus Near UF

One main difference between on-campus and private dorms versus student apartments is a meal plan. On-campus and private dorms typically include a meal plan for residents. Since off-campus student apartments include kitchens, you’ll be responsible for grocery shopping and cooking your own meals. 

Another difference is the length of your lease term. Dorm leases are typically nine months, running from August to May, since they are tied to the academic calendar. Student apartment leases typically last 12 months, starting in August and ending in July. On-campus dorms close for breaks when the University does, so you’ll be required to leave during Thanksgiving break, Winter break, Spring break and the summer. If you want to stay in Gainesville during breaks or over the summer, an apartment would be a better fit for you since you won’t have to move out of a dorm when it closes. This may be ideal for international or out-of-state students who can’t travel home as easily, or if you have an internship or job in Gainesville that requires you to stay for the summer. 

The last difference you’ll find are the amenities at the different housing properties. On-campus dorms only include campus-wide facilities, such as the Student Rec or the libraries. On-property amenities typically include a laundry room, study areas and a social area with TVs, pool tables and other games to mingle with other freshmen. 

For off-campus private dorms and student apartments, amenities will vary based on each property. However, you can typically find a fitness center, laundry rooms, study areas and a pool. Many new apartment developments will include luxury amenities, such as a rooftop pool deck, spin or yoga room, coffee shops, golf simulators and more, whereas private dorms and older student housing properties have a more basic offering of amenities.

Which is Right for Me?

To decide which housing option is best suited for you, make a list of the pros and cons of each and compare that against your lifestyle. If you enjoy cooking your own meals or value having your own bedroom and bathroom, an apartment might be best for you. If you’re planning on going home for the summer or don’t want to cook for yourself, a dorm might be a better fit for you.

You should also consider location and where you think you’ll spend the majority of your time on campus. If you’re looking to get heavily involved within campus and plan on taking many classes, living on-campus will probably be more convenient for you. However, if you’re looking to join Greek life, a spirit org or other social group, an apartment on 13th street or University Ave may be a better spot for you. If you aren’t worried about being close to campus, you can check out an apartment near Archer Road, where you’ll find slightly less expensive rates. For more information on where to live off-campus based on your lifestyle, read our guide on Where to Live Near UF if You Don’t Want to Live on Campus.

Finally, consider who you want to be surrounded by. Since freshmen typically fill the majority of on-campus and off-campus dorms, you’ll find people your age to meet and mingle with. Between resident events and passing people in the dining hall, you’re sure to meet lots of new people in your classes on campus. If you’re looking to meet a variety of people, with both upperclassmen and underclassmen, an apartment will better suit you.

Read the full article here: What Types of Housing Are Available for UF Students? 

When should I start looking for housing?

leasing office sweetwater girl walking in

As soon as you confirm your acceptance to UF, you should immediately begin looking at housing! With acceptances coming out in late February, the housing process can be competitive, especially for student apartments. 

Since you’re competing with the upperclassmen who have been signing leases during the fall, you’ll want to start contacting the leasing offices as soon as possible if you’re interested in living in an apartment. Students begin signing leases as early as 12 months prior to move in, with many of the most popular apartments becoming fully leased in the spring before move in. 

If you’re looking at an off-campus dorm, you should plan to sign sometime in March or April if you want to be ahead of the game.

For on-campus dorms, you can submit your housing application as soon as September, before you’re even admitted to UF. The earlier you submit your application, the higher you’ll be on the waitlist. This may help you secure your top-choice preference! Contracts will go out weekly starting in March. So, if you’re interested in on-campus housing, start your application ASAP!

Read the full article here: When to Start Looking for Student Housing at UF

How much does it cost to live near UF?

On-Campus + Private Dorms

Residence halls fall in the mid-range of student housing pricing. Upon publication in January 2024, 2024-25 residence hall rates range from around $2,700 per semester for a shared space with a community bath to around $5,000 per semester for a single suite. These rates are quoted per person for one semester. These rates include room, meal plan, internet service and laundry. 

Off-campus private dorms fall on the mid-to-high end of the student housing price range. If you’re looking for a shared bedroom, you can expect to pay anywhere from $600 to $1,200 per month. For a private bedroom, prices range from $989 to $1,260 per month. These rates include room, meal plan and internet service. Depending on the property, rates may also include laundry service. 

Off-Campus Apartments

Rental rates can range from around $700 to $1,900 per person, per month. Though this is a seemingly wide range, how much you’ll pay in rent will vary depending on a number of different factors, including floor plan style, location, amenities, building age and room/unit features. To get accurate pricing for the properties and floor plans you’re interested in, contact their leasing staff!

Remember when thinking about your budget that dorms will be on a nine-month lease and apartments will be a 12-month lease. They also will not include meals in their pricing. 

Read the full article here: How Much Does it Cost for Students to Live Near UF?

To help you make a fair comparison between the cost to live in a dorm versus an apartment, check out our article that explains what is typically included in your off-campus apartment rent

How do I find roommates as a freshman at the University of Florida?

sweetwater leasing office kitchen

As a freshman, you’ll most likely have at least one roommate. Unless you opt for a single dorm or studio apartment (which come at the higher end of the price range), your roommate will be a huge part of your first-year college experience.. 

The space you share with your roommates is determined by the type of housing you choose and what floor plan you live in.

For example, most dorms are set up as one room with two beds, or a “direct roommate.” In this case you will share a room with your roommate. Depending on the dorm, you may have a suite-style layout, where you and your roommate plus another set of roommates share a bathroom, or you may have a community bathroom that’s open to your dorm hall. 

There are a couple different ways you have to share a space with your roommates. The first, and most traditional, is the “direct roommate.” This is where you and a roommate have one room with two beds. If you have a suite-style dorm, you’ll also have “suitemates.” You’ll share a bathroom with your suitemates, but it’s connected to your room instead of a community bath down the hall. 

Most student apartments and a few UF dorms are set up apartment style, where you have your own room (and sometimes bathroom) and you share the living space and kitchen with your roommates. Think of these as “apartment-mates” instead of roommates, since you’ll be sharing the common areas instead of your private space. 

Apartments primarily offer single-occupancy bed spaces in apartments ranging from one- to six-bedrooms. This means that you’d have your own room, but you might share your living area and kitchen with as many as five other roommates. 

Single-occupancy bed spaces in apartments ranging from one- to six-bedrooms are the most common for student housing apartments near UF. You’ll have your own room, but share the common areas with up to five roommates. Keep in mind that the more roommates you have, the lower your monthly rate. If you’re looking for student housing on a budget, read our 8 Ways to Save Money on Student Housing Apartments in Gainesville.

Since you’ll most likely have roommates your first year, you may be wondering – how do I find them? 

If you decide to live in a dorm, you’ll have the option to request a roommate or match with a roommate with similar lifestyle choices to you. If you know someone going to UF that you want to live with, or you find someone through the processes I explain below, you’ll tell the University their name and information so you’ll be placed together. This process is also the same for off-campus private dorms, but instead of contacting the university, you’ll email the property directly.

Living in a dorm is arguably the easiest property to find a roommate. You’ll have the option to request a roommate or match with a roommate with similar lifestyle choices to you. If you know someone going to UF that you want to live with, or you find someone through the processes I explain later, you’ll each input each other’s info when it’s time to submit preferences in the housing portal. For off-campus dorms, you’ll email the property directly with the same information to be placed together. 

If you would prefer to be matched with a roommate, UF Housing offers a platform called RoomSync to help you search and pair with a roommate based on similar lifestyles, interests or major to you. For off-campus private dorms, you’ll fill out a roommate questionnaire and the property will try to match you with someone that suits you.

Apartments typically offer similar options, where you can sign a lease with roommates you already know, or they may be able to match you with other roommates. 

If you don’t know anyone to live with, but you don’t want to leave it up to the property to match you with a roommate(s), there are some steps you can take to find a compatible roommate on your own. 

The easiest and most common way to search for roommates is on Facebook or Instagram. Each freshmen class has a Facebook group that you should join so you can connect with future classmates. This is an amazing resource to look for a roommate! You can create a post for yourself, showing which property you are looking to live in, some defining character traits, what you’re interested in getting involved in on campus, and some photos of yourself! You can also look at your classmates’ posts and reach out to those that you think might be a good match. Don’t be scared to put yourself out there! 

Along with the class Facebook page, there’s also a class UF Instagram page (ex: @ufclassof28) to search for potential roommates. You can submit the same info to this page that you did on Facebook to be highlighted on the feed!

For more information on the roommate process or how to find them, read our guide on How to Find Roommates at the University of Florida.


What are the next steps?

Once you’ve decided which housing you prefer, you’ll start the process of securing your spot! Here is a short breakdown of what to do for on- and off-campus housing. 


If you’re interested in living on-campus, you should complete your housing application now! The sooner you complete it, the better chance you’ll have at getting your preferred dorm. After you complete the housing application, you’ll receive your housing contract offer in March which you’ll need to complete. After you sign the contract, you’ll then be able to submit your preference of residence hall and roommates. Lastly, the room selection process begins. Remember that your first preference may not be available by the time you get to select, so have other options in mind just in case. You can read more details on the UF Residence Hall website.


Off-campus housing works a bit differently. First, make a list of potential places you’re interested in. Then, schedule tours with the leasing staff to get more info on rates, amenities and availability. It requires a little more effort from you, but you’ll also have more control over where you end up living.

The process for off-campus housing runs a bit differently. The first step is to make a list of places you’re interested in. Next, schedule tours at the leasing office to get more info on rates, availability, and what the property offers. Though it may be a bit more effort right now, in the long run you’ll have more control over where you end up living, the floor plan style, location, etc. 

Once you’ve picked the property for you, you’ll complete an application, sign a lease agreement, and pay any required fees. Then you’re all set! For more information on the process, check out our step-by-step guide on How to Sign a Lease at a Student Housing Apartment near UF.

If you are curious as to what all you should bring to make your living experience this year the best yet, check out our ultimate college packing list for UF students.

Sweetwater College Packing List

We hope this guide gave you the information you need on what the differences between on- and off-campus housing are, as well as how to decide which option is best for you.  If you want any more information or guidance, you should explore the Resources section of our website. We have a wide array of articles on student housing in UF, Gainesville lifestyle, and student life as a Gator. You can also contact with our leasing team, who are more than happy to answer any of your questions!


Caroline is a Leasing and Marketing Assistant for Sweetwater. She is a sophomore at UF majoring in Marketing.

January 22, 2024

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