Finding housing at UF can be difficult, especially if you are an out-of-state or exchange student who is not very familiar with the area.
At Sweetwater, we understand how overwhelming the search for housing can be. To outline the important steps you should take when looking for a place to live, we have written this guide on finding housing as an exchange student.
We will answer our most-asked questions, including:
- What types of housing are available to exchange students?
- How much do they cost?
- Which neighborhoods do UF students live in?
- What is the best way to find housing?
- How do I find a roommate as an exchange student at UF?
- What are the next steps for securing a lease?
Ultimate Guide to Finding Housing as an Exchange Student at the University of Florida
What types of housing are available to exchange students at UF?
Gainesville is full of a variety of housing options for UF students, so one of your first steps should be deciding what type of housing you’re interested in leasing at.
The types of housing available for students both on- and off- campus include:
On-Campus UF Residence Halls
Residence halls, also known as dormitories, are on-campus housing options for UF students that are owned by the university. You will find that most students living in residence halls are freshmen, some are sophomores, and very few are upperclassmen. These are typically available on a nine-month term (August through May), offer meal plans and access to on-campus dining halls, and come fully furnished.
UF offers three different styles of student residence halls: apartment style, suite style, and traditional style.
In an apartment style room, four students share a living space that includes a shared or private room option, along with a shared bathroom, kitchen, and common living area.
Suite style halls typically feature shared bedrooms with a connecting bathroom. The bathroom is shared by a range of two to six students who have separate bedrooms.
Traditional style residence halls are the most common on campus. In this style, students share a room with a maximum of four students and have a communal bathroom that is shared by everyone on the floor.
UF has an International Living Learning Community, Weaver Hall, that is focused on housing exchange students. This residence hall provides these students with educational and experiential events throughout their time at UF, and also has a program where a domestic and international student will be paired to exchange cultures and ideas.
Weaver Hall is a traditional style residence hall that offers single, double, and triple style room options. Each floor has a shared restroom and community kitchen that comes with a microwave, oven, and stove to allow residents access to cooking.
Off-Campus Student Housing Apartments
Student housing apartments are off-campus housing options built specifically for college students. These are a popular alternative to on-campus dorms that cater to the specific needs of students. In recent years, this type of housing has increased in popularity and is the most common type of housing for UF students.
Student apartments have amenities like study areas, coffee bars, and fitness centers to cater directly to the lifestyle of students. These apartments typically come fully furnished.
The leasing term for student housing apartments typically begin in early August and end in late July. Student apartments also offer individual leases, so you will not have to worry about taking responsibility for your roommates’ share of rent each month.
Off-Campus Traditional Apartments
Traditional apartments, located across Gainesville, are an alternative option for off-campus housing. Although not as popular as student housing apartments, they typically offer more space and privacy at a lower cost.
In this type of housing, the leasing contract is typically provided by the apartment itself, requiring one roommate to pay the entire rent amount to the landlord each month. To split the expenses, roommates must make arrangements amongst themselves for sharing the rent and utility bills. It’s important to note that traditional apartments are usually unfurnished and offer minimal amenities, if any.
Each of these housing options has their own pros and cons, including amenities, price point, lease type, and location, so it’s important to research what housing option is best for you. For an in depth comparison including typical price ranges and amenities, read our article on the types of housing available to UF students.
How much do they cost?
On-Campus UF Residence Halls
UF offers different types of on-campus housing that all vary in layout, floorplan, and price. It’s important to understand the different options so you can make an educated decision on what’s best for you.
On-campus residence halls can range from $2,553 to $4,505 per semester depending on the style of your residence hall.
Apartment-style residence halls offer better room layouts and more space, but are typically more expensive. The rental cost of these apartments range from $3,247 to $3,912 per semester.
Suite-style residence halls range from $3,127 to $4,505 per semester depending on the type of layout you have.
Traditional-style residence halls range from $2,553 to $4,317 per semester, being the cheapest on-campus housing option between the three styles.
The international hall, Weaver Hall, can range from $3,022 to $3,200 per semester depending on the layout you choose.
For more information on UF on-campus housing types and prices, visit UF’s Housing and Residence Life page.
Off-Campus Student Housing Apartments
Student apartments near campus are all relatively new, so prices for these apartments range from around $700 to $2,000 per person, per month depending on the location, amenities, floorplan style, square footage and other factors.
Off-Campus Traditional Apartments
There are a lot of traditional apartments in Gainesville varying in age, location, and target market. The prices for these apartments can fall on either end of the spectrum, ranging from around $500 to over $1,800 per person, per month.
For a more in-depth look into the cost of different areas UF students live, read our article, How Much Does it Cost for Students to Live Near UF?
Where do students live near UF?
Once you have an idea of the type of housing you’re looking for, the next step is to decide where you would ideally want to live. Location can make or break your living experience, especially for students as busy and on the go as UF students.
Popular locations for students to live include:
- On Campus
- 13th Street
- University Avenue
- Sorority Row
- Fraternity Row
Living on campus is beneficial because you are closer to your classes, the library, dining halls, and other on-campus buildings. The downside is that on-campus housing is limited to only UF-owned residence halls.
13th Street is a popular location for student and traditional apartments, traditional houses, and Greek houses. Running north-south along the east edge of UF’s campus, 13th Street is full of great restaurants and shops, while still being a short walk from campus.
University Avenue runs east-west along the northern edge of UF’s campus. University Avenue is the perfect spot for students who value their studies, as well as their social lives. Conveniently located near Midtown, a popular area filled with bars and restaurants, while also near the Warrington College of Business and Lib West, University Avenue can be a great spot to live for many UF students.
Sorority Row, which is located east of campus, is most commonly known for being the home to the majority of UF’s sorority houses. There are around 15 sorority houses in this area, as well as a few apartments and traditional houses. This area is not just limited to females, as most students who live in this area are social and enjoy the presence of all the fellow students around them. Sorority Row is also not far from campus, being only a five to ten minute walk.
Fraternity Row, which is located west of campus, only has fraternity houses. There are about 15 fraternity houses total, and this area has become exclusive to those who are a member of a fraternity.
For a more in-depth look into the different areas UF students live, read our article, Where Do Students Live Near the University of Florida?
How do I begin my housing search?
Now that you have an understanding of housing options near UF, plus how much they cost, it’s time to start searching! Online resources are the most popular way to secure your home and find roommates.
Facebook groups, GroupMe groups, WhatsApp chats, and other online pages and forums are extremely popular for exchange students looking for housing and roommates and are attending the University of Florida for a duration of time.
Facebook groups are common for housing and roommate searches. For housing, there are various groups for subleases near UF, where you will find students looking to sublease their room in a student housing apartment. There are also groups for students who are seeking out a roommate that will be a good match for them. With groups for transfer students, exchange students, people with the same major, and more, Facebook is a great tool to utilize during the housing and roommate search.
Here are a few popular Facebook groups:
- University of Florida (UF) Housing and Sublease Community | Facebook
- University of Florida Off-Campus Housing & Subleases | Facebook
- UF Off Campus Housing, Subleases, Roommates, Apartments – Gainesville
- UF Subleases and Roommate Search | University of Florida
GroupMe and WhatsApp chats are also very common among exchange students as a means of meeting other exchange students, finding roommates, and more.
If you prefer to seek out an apartment on your own, or would like to learn more about a certain apartment, it’s always best to look into the student housing property’s website before making a final decision. Almost all housing sites will have a contact page, where you are able to reach out to their leasing team for more information. It’s important to remember that when it comes to roommates, many student housing apartments offer roommate-matching services for those who would like the process of finding a roommate taken off their hands.
Should I have roommates?
The last important step before you start making a list of your favorite housing options and begin touring properties, is to decide if you want to live with roommates.
For someone that prefers a quiet space without distractions, having an apartment or house full of roommates may not be the best decision for you.
However, if you’re looking for a sense of community and companionship within your own apartment, having roommates is a great way to bond with other students and make lasting friendships.
Outside of friendship, having roommates can also lower your overall rental rate. Utilities, additional costs, and rent per square foot will all be divided amongst you and your other roommates.
What are the next steps?
Find a Guarantor
If you are a full-time student, you will likely need a guarantor to co-sign your lease. Most student housing properties require a guarantor, and many Gainesville landlords don’t accept undergraduate student tenants unless they have one.
So… what’s a guarantor?
A guarantor is someone, typically a parent or guardian, who co-signs your lease and takes responsibility for any rent payments that you are unable to make.
For applicants who don’t have a credit history in the United States and/or a guarantor, the landlord or property manager will typically accept a prepayment of two installments in lieu of the credit/guarantor requirements, unless otherwise expressed in writing by management. This varies by apartment complex, so be sure to ask your leasing team about their policy.
Prepare Your Documents
The landlord will run a credit check prior to finalizing your lease, so you and your guarantor should gather your bank account statements, pay stubs, and Social Security numbers.
Applicants who are citizens of another country must also provide a passport, the INS document that entitles the applicant to be in the United States, and an I-20 verifying student status and proof of enrollment. The landlord or property manager may ask to make a photocopy of INS documents, international passport and/or visa.
If you cannot provide proof of enrollment at the time of application, you may be approved on the condition that you will submit proof of enrollment as soon as it is available. Be sure to ask the apartment complex that you are considering to confirm.
Carefully Read Over Your Lease Agreement
A typical student lease tends to be around 40 pages long, and although it may seem extensive, it’s crucial to carefully read and understand each part of it. Since a lease is a legally binding contract, understanding your responsibilities and obligations is very important. Familiarizing yourself with the terms will ensure that you’re fully aware of what you will be held accountable for throughout the duration of your lease.
It is important to know the specific terms of your lease. You will want to pay close attention to:
- Important dates and fees
- Rental amount and due date
- Pet policy
- Rental insurance
- Length of your lease
- Lease-breaking policy
- Sublease policy
Sign Your Lease!
After you fully understand the terms of your lease, it’s time to sign. Once the lease is signed by you and your guarantor, and your credit check is passed, your lease is ready for approval. Congratulations!
For more information on the details of signing a student housing lease, we have put together a guide on How to Sign a Lease at a Student Apartment near UF.
While the task of finding an apartment seems daunting, breaking the process down into individual steps makes the process a breeze.
If you have further questions or would like to learn more about leasing at Sweetwater, feel free to reach out to our leasing team. We are more than happy to assist you in your housing search.