As a UF student, I know the hunt for student housing can be stressful. With so many housing options and pressure to find housing quickly, students often get overwhelmed knowing where to even start.
At Sweetwater, we’ve helped hundreds of students in their search for the right student housing for them, and we know finding housing can be difficult.
So, we’ve compiled this guide of eight steps that will help you find student housing near UF.
8 Steps to Finding the Perfect Apartment as a UF Student
Step 1: Pick Your Ideal Location
You’re ready to begin your student housing search, but where do you start? Location.
Figuring out where you want to live is the first step that will guide your student housing search because it will greatly narrow down the housing options available. Each area around campus has its perks and its drawbacks, but these will greatly depend on what you personally are looking for.
Choosing what area to live in can often be based on your desired lifestyle and your interests. For example, if you are in a more demanding major, you might want to live closer to study spaces, such as libraries and coffee shops. On the other hand, if you prioritize your social life more, you might want to live closer to popular restaurants and bars.
Read Next: Where Do UF Students Live?
At UF, most students have a good balance of an active social life and a strenuous course load, so students try to live near both study spaces and restaurants and bars. Luckily, there are a few areas that accommodate this lifestyle.
The main areas that students who have a work-life balance live in are:
- 13th Street
- University Avenue
- Sorority Row
- Fraternity Row
Location: North of campus
If you’re a student who wants to live close to restaurants and bars while also being close to campus, this is the area for you.
University Avenue student housing options include student housing apartments, traditional houses and a few Greek houses, and all of these are within walking distance of Midtown, a popular area for students.
University Avenue runs east to west, just north of the edge of campus. Most student housing options on this road are located between Midtown and Downtown; the farther east you go, the closer you are to downtown, and the farther west you go, the closer you are to Midtown.
Living in this area comes with the perks of being across the street from Library West, a popular study space for students, as well as being walking distance to the most lively bars in Gainesville.
Location: East of campus
Similar to students who live on University Avenue, students living on 13th Street tend to be social and value living close to the action. With restaurants and many student housing complexes located in this area, there is always something to do and someone to hang out with. Student housing on 13th Street includes apartments and Greek houses (which will be discussed more under Sorority Row).
13th Street runs north to south, just east of the edge of campus, so getting to campus is never difficult. Even on hot or rainy days, students can walk to campus in 10 minutes or less.
There are plenty of things to do on 13th Street, including going to Orangetheory Fitness to get your morning workout in or going to Publix to get snacks for a birthday party. Aside from that, there are a bunch of restaurants and coffee shops located on this road, including Piesanos, El Indio and Starbucks.
Read Next: Top 6 Local Coffee Shops near UF
Location: SW 8th Avenue and SW 9th Avenue
Sorority Row is a specific area on 13th Street, south of University Avenue. This area is home to most sororities at UF.
Sorority houses are a unique living style that are available to students who are members of sororities. Each house sets its own rental rates and pricing packages; some houses include meal plans in their rental rates, others do not.
Most sorority houses are configured with double bedrooms and communal bathrooms, and most houses do not have a kitchen for residents to use.
Living on Sorority Row is convenient for sorority members who plan on using the sorority meal plan and want to spend a lot of time with their sorority sisters. But, some members of sororities prefer to live in apartments so they can have their own bedroom and access to a kitchen.
Sorority Row is located on the southeast edge of campus, and walking to the center of campus would take about 10 minutes. This area is also prime for students looking for outdoor space, being located next to Norman Field and just a few streets from Depot Park.
Location: Fraternity Drive
Fraternity Row is a popular area for fraternity members to live in, especially sophomore year.
Living in a fraternity house definitely has its pros and cons. Some benefits of living on Fraternity Row are the location, the cost and the convenience. Fraternity Row is located down the street from the Reitz Union, which is home to the bookstore and many restaurants, and it is just a three-minute drive from Southwest Rec, a popular gym free for UF students.
Fraternity houses tend to be less expensive than some other housing options, possibly because the houses are older and have much fewer amenities. But, living on Fraternity Row is extremely convenient because fraternity members can easily eat the meals at their house as well as have access to the large parking lot located on Fraternity Row.
Step 2: Determine Whether or Not You’ll Have a Roommate
Once you’ve decided on where you want to live, you should start thinking about if you want to have roommates. If so, figure out who you want to live with.
Unsure about whether you want to live with roommates? That’s okay!
To help you figure out if living with roommates is right for you, we’ve provided a list of pros and cons to help you decide:
- Affordability – Apartment units tend to be less expensive the more roommates you have.
- Social – Living with roommates can be comforting. You’ll always have someone to talk to, cook with, and watch movies with.
- Community – Living on your own can be lonely sometimes. Having roommates can help you build your new community at school and enable you to explore new areas of Gainesville that you’ve never been to before.
- Distraction – Having roommates can be fun, but sometimes it can be too fun. You’ll have to make sure you don’t distract yourself too much from your schoolwork and make sure you still have quiet time to study.
- Reduced Privacy – Living with roommates naturally means there will be less personal space. With that comes less privacy. Some units have shared bathrooms and common areas, like the kitchen and living room, are available for all roommates at any time.
Looking for roommates? Check out our guide on how to find roommates at UF!
Step 3: Decide Which Amenities You Value
Student housing apartments have progressively become more luxurious, and this is mostly due to the amenities that they offer. Some apartments offer more amenities than others, but it’s important to know which amenities you value the most when touring complexes to ensure you have the most positive living experience.
The most common in-unit amenities include:
- Fully furnished
- Attached vs. unattached bath
- Walk-in closets
- WiFi/High-speed internet
- Cable TV
The most common community amenities include:
- Pool and hot tub
- Fitness center
- Coffee bar on-site
- Yoga studio
- Study rooms
- Spin room
- On-site concierge
- 24-hour security
- Package lockers
As I said above, not every apartment complex has all of the amenities, so it’s important to ask questions about what amenities are offered when touring apartments. Also, look at apartments’ websites before touring so you have a basic overview of what they offer.
Often, apartments with more amenities are more expensive, so next, you’ll want to decide what your price range is.
Step 4: Determine Your Price Range
It is very important to set a price range and maximum amount that you are willing to spend before touring apartments because this will dictate which complexes are options for you.
Costs that can influence the price of your unit include:
- Leases by bed – This is an individual lease that you will sign that holds you liable for your portion of the apartment, without taking on the liability of whether your roommates pay on time or not. This is typically offered by student housing apartments.
- Leases by unit – A standard lease agreement with all roommates, who are all equally liable for all payments. This is typically offered by traditional apartments.
- Parking – Most apartments offer parking options, but many of them are offered at an additional cost, which can greatly increase your monthly payments.
- Pet rent and/or pet deposit – Most student housing apartments allow you to have a pet at an additional cost. This can be a one-time deposit, an additional monthly fee, or both.
- Utilities – Most apartments charge an additional fee for utilities.
- Renter’s insurance – While many apartments offer renter’s insurance, some do not. Apartments that offer renter’s insurance typically charge an additional fee.
Once you evaluate these additional costs and consider which ones you will incur, you can begin to set a budget that works best for your housing needs.
If you’d like more information on the cost of living near UF, read our article, How Much Does it Cost to Live Near UF?, to learn more about various factors that can affect the total cost of living near the University of Florida.
Step 5: Make a Short List of Places to Tour
Making a short list of apartment complexes that you would consider living at will help you narrow down your housing options, making the process much less daunting.
To make your list, search online for places in your desired location that meet your budget and amenities wish list.
After you’ve decided on which places you’re most interested in, go to their contact page to book a tour online or call their leasing office. Be sure to stay true to what you’re looking for and not settle if the apartment complex does not meet your desired criteria.
Step 6: Go on Property Tours
Once your short list is complete, time to go on some apartment tours! This is the exciting part because you get a glimpse at what your life would be like at each complex, and it will help you differentiate between your top choices.
When touring an apartment complex, it is important to keep in mind:
- Utilities – Some student housing apartments charge additional fees for internet, cable, trash, electric, water, sewage and gas. Be sure to understand which utilities are included in your monthly rent.
- In-Unit Amenities – As we discussed in Step 3, it’s important that your apartment complex offers the amenities that are most important to you. Do they have an in-unit washer and dryer? High-speed internet?
- Floor Plan – If you are generally social and enjoy being out-and-about, a floor plan with less square footage may be suitable. However, if you value space, a larger floor plan may be worth the extra cash. Just make sure you have the proper amount of space for you and your roommates to comfortably live in.
- Beds and Baths – Do you value having your own bedroom and bathroom? If so, do you prefer an attached bath or an unattached bath? Keep an eye out for these features when you tour your unit.
- Windows – Units can vary greatly when it comes to natural lighting and window size. If this is something you value in your home, pay attention to the windows on your tour.
- Views – Depending on location, many apartments near campus overlook the edge of campus. Ask your tour guide about your view options if this is part of your wishlist and ask about how much the cost would vary based on certain views.
And don’t forget to ask questions! After each tour, you should feel confident that you know all of the necessary information about each complex to make a decision on which one is right for you.
To be sure you get all the important information about each complex, we put together a list of 15 Questions You Should Ask When Touring a Student Housing Apartment at UF.
Step 7: Fill Out an Application
Yay! You’ve selected the complex that’s right for you, now what? It’s time to apply.
Filling out an application at a student housing apartment typically takes about 15-20 minutes. Most properties near UF have the forms available online.
To apply, you will answer basic information, like your driver’s license information, emergency contact, pet information, current residence, etc. If you’re looking to be roommate matched, you will also probably fill out a roommate questionnaire so that the leasing office can start the matching process.
Lastly, you’ll have to pay an application fee to finish your application. These fees usually range from $50 to $100 and cover the cost of the apartment to run a background check.
Once your application is complete and approved, you’ll be ready for your last step – signing a lease!
Step 8: Sign Your Lease
Finally, you’re at the last step to finding your future home – signing a lease!
A lease is a contractual arrangement that outlines the terms of a resident paying a landlord for use of an apartment.
The document, which is usually around 30-50 pages, can be complex, but it’s very important to read each page thoroughly and understand the terms of your lease. Knowing what you’re getting into is the best way to avoid problems in the future. Remember, this is a legally binding contract.
Most importantly, pay close attention to dates and fees. Take note of when you have to pay rent each month and when your lease term starts and ends.
Leases are generally 12 months, but make sure to ask before you sign. Shorter leases are available at some properties but are often more expensive.
If you are a full-time student who does not work, or only works part-time, you will probably need a guarantor. Most landlords in Gainesville do not accept undergraduate students as tenants unless they have a guarantor. A guarantor is a person who co-signs the lease and is legally responsible for paying rent if the tenant fails to do so.
You and your guarantor will need to gather your bank account statements, pay stubs, and Social Security numbers for the landlord to run a credit check.
For more information about the lease signing process, read our article on How to Sign a Lease at an Apartment near UF.
We know the student housing search can seem like a daunting process, but once you break it down into steps, it will feel much easier.
We hope that these steps have helped you better understand the process of finding a student housing apartment. By following these eight steps, you will be well on your way to finding the perfect apartment for you near the University of Florida!