If you are interested in privately-owned accommodations in the community, please be sure to contact UCSB Community Housing Services in advance of securing a place to stay for your time in Santa Barbara. Please also visit UCSB Extension's Housing and International Student Life page for helpful information. Below are ten tips to have a successful housing experience while you are studying at UCSB. If you have a question please feel free to ask us. We're here to help!
- Submit the Community Housing Office form as soon as possible. This will give us the opportunity to know what you are looking for and enable us to keep in contact with you prior to your arrival in Santa Barbara.
- Submit a “Roommate Available” post with your specific needs on the Community Housing Office rental listings website. This will allow students who are looking for roommates to find you. You can also begin searching the listings for possible places to live. (EAP students can utilize the listings website with their UCSB NetID and password; ISP students need to first register for an account on the listings website).
- Communicate via phone or email with the property providers about the lease/sublease. If you are subletting, make sure you are filling out the appropriate paperwork for a legal sublet. Be sure to ask if the lease is current and if there are any financial issues with the current lease or roommates. Get a copy of the lease and all other paperwork because you are ultimately responsible for the terms of the lease.
- Only commit with complete confidence and understanding of all details. If at all possible, view a place in person (or have a friend check it out) before signing a lease. We advise international students to arrive a few days early to finalize their living arrangements; for a list of nearby hotels, please visit our Overnight Accommodations page. If you do secure a place before your arrival, do so with the least amount of money possible to hold your space. Check with us before you send money and keep good records (financial transactions, emails, local addresses, phone numbers, etc.)
- Try to live with other UCSB students. As an international UCSB student, your schedule will be full and demanding. You will likely find a living situation with other UCSB students to be more compatible than with non-UCSB students.
- Meet your roommates. Be sure to “meet” potential roommates before you sign anything. If possible, video chat face to face with whom you might be living using Skype or Facetime. Ask questions about lifestyle, study habits, sleep schedule, etc. to get a sense of the household and where you might be living. Get pictures or a video of the place inside and out to get a better idea of the conditions.
- Get familiar with the location. Find out about the area where you will be living and ask about the immediate neighborhood. Del Playa and Sabado Tarde streets in Isla Vista, for example, are typically louder and more active than other areas.
- Budget for utilities. You will likely be expected to pay additional money for utilities (gas, electricity, etc.) for the place you will be renting. Be sure to ask how much they are on average so you have that information before you sign.
- Only pay for the time you are here. Make certain you do not sign a lease for longer than you are here. You should only agree to pay for the time you are here as an international student. Figure out partial month rent amounts by prorating the days you will be living in the unit. You are entitled to negotiate.
- Understand security deposits. A security deposit is money that a landlord requests in advance to protect them from loss. Do not pay cash. Pay by check so there will be a record of the payment. Write “security deposit” in the memo section. If possible, negotiate to pay a partial security deposit to hold your space and pay the remainder upon your arrival. If you do not have a domestic co-signer (required in most rentals), be prepared to pay a higher security deposit (often at least 2 times the amount of the monthly rent).
Our goal at the UCSB Community Housing Services is to work with you to find a housing situation that will meet your needs. We are here to help, so please be sure to contact us with ANY questions or concerns! We are open Monday-Friday from 8am-12pm and 1pm-5pm. We are located on the 3rd floor of the University Center in room 3151. Our phone number is 805-893-4371 and our email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional information you should know:
- Most places available in Isla Vista, the college town next to campus, tend to be pretty expensive. The average cost to share a room is $700, not including utilities or food. Most students share a room; if you are looking for a single room, the starting cost is about $950.
- Rooms are typically not furnished, so be prepared to purchase beds, dressers, desks and other amenities. We have a list of local thrift stores where you can find these types of items.
- The first thing you should do when you arrive is obtain a phone. Our office has compiled several local places to get a cell phone. You will need this to be able to secure a place to live.
- Open a US bank account. Having easy access to a checking account or funds will be important during your first week here.
- Plan to stay in a hotel or hostel for at least 3-6 days if your housing situation is not secured before you arrive.