Q: How much does a typical CSE graduate student spend on rent per month? (top)
As of February 2016, the mean rent is $981/mo. With utilities, about $1050/month. More details here.
Q: Where does everyone live? (top)
You can access a map of where most grad students live here. The most popular neighborhoods are (in decreasing popularity):
Q: What is the housing process like? (top)
You view listings on sites such as Zillow, Craigslist, PadMapper, or aPodment.com and contact the listing agent (or landlord directly). The listing agent (or landlord) gets back to you with a time to visit the listing. Once you visit the listing and would like to move forward with the process, you pay a non-refundable application fee of $40. The application consists of a background and credit check. The agent (or landlord) will filter applications based on the application. If the agent moves forward with your application, you and the agent (or landlord) sign a lease and the keys are delivered to you!
Q: When should I start apartment hunting? (top)
The best strategy is to look as soon as possible. The busiest times usually peaks on August 10th because of the projected move-in date of September 1st. Since UW does not start until mid- to late- September, most of the students prefer to start their lease period by September 1st. Existing tenants only have to give 20 days notice, so landlords are only guaranteed to know about vacancies that far in advance. This means that the best time to look for new places is just after the 10th of the month before you want your lease to start.
It’s typically very stressful as a potential renter. It is a landlord’s market in Seattle meaning that there is a huge supply of renters with limited rental inventory. Each listing receives many inquiries and landlord’s receive multiple rental applications per listing. The window for applying for housing is typically short. Within a week of a rental listing, multiple offers are submitted and selected by the landlord. If you find a place you like, contact the landlord, visit the place, and secure the lease as soon as possible!
Q: What about graduate student dorms? (top)
Graduate student dorms can be found here. Historically, rates range from $850 to $1100 a month depending on the housing configuration (e.g., 1BR, 2BR). It has the benefit that most of the dorms are close to campus.
Q: Where can I find roommates? (top)
Try e-mailing email@example.com to see if others are looking for roommates. firstname.lastname@example.org is also a great mailing list (and typically subscribed to by faculty and staff in addition to grads). The incoming new-grads (at email@example.com) is a great place to search for roommates for the upcoming Autumn quarter.
On Facebook, join these two groups: University of Washington (UW) Housing, Sublets & Roommates and Washington Housing.
Q: How do I find the best deals? (top)
You have to monitor rental deals through Zillow or Craigslist. The best deals usually occur during off-rental months (such as December-April). The demand is much lower during this time (but also the supplies dwindle).
Q: What is on the standard lease? (top)
Leases are typically year-to-year, and contracts tend to default to month-to-month, thereafter. It’s very common that after your lease that the landlord may increase the cost of rent.
Q: What is the University Link Light Rail? (top)
The University Link Light Rail connects downtown Seattle to the UW via the Husky Stadium. Instead of having to take the bus, using the lightrail to commute to/from UW is now a viable option. The UW lightrail opened March 2016 and plans connecting the lightrail to Northgate (2021) and other Seattle neighborhoods are in the works.
Q: What is the biking situation in Seattle? (top)
The Burke-Gilman trail is a fantastic way to get around Seattle and to the UW. It is mostly flat and crosses multiple Seattle neighborhoods like Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, University District, Laurelhurst, and all the way towards Redmond and Woodinville.
If you're not using the trail, you can share the road with the cars. Be aware that the roads in Seattle (especially in Capitol Hill) are particularly hilly!
Q: Could you give me example stories on how grads secured housing? (top)
Here's a few anecdotes from grad students in CSE.
CSE Grad #1: "I remember when I first moved out to Seattle. What I ended up doing was renting an AirBnB with my family for two weeks, calling a bunch of places from Craigslist the first morning I arrived, and signing a lease that afternoon (but the lease didn't start until a week and a half later, so I made full use of the AirBnB). In retrospect, this plan worked out well enough for me, but there are lots of other options (fly out a month ahead of time and house-hunt for a week, find a place for 2-3 months and then house-hunt for a longer-term rental, live in campus housing, etc.), and I'm not sure if any one of them is better or worse than others."
CSE Grad #2: "I started my program during one summer. I subscribed to misc@cs and cs-grads@cs and saw a sublet posting from a CSE grad student. I originally thought $950 for a 1 BR studio was expensive; I came from Virginia where cost-of-living is low. Eventually, I relented and agreed to the sublease without physically visiting the place. I drived from Virginia to Seattle and picked up the keys the Sunday before my first day at CSE. I was extremely lucky -- $950 for the studio was actually underpriced for the apartment as it was modern and had brand new amenities. The location was in Northgate, which is about 5 miles away from CSE. 5 miles in Virginia is nothing, but it turns out that 5 miles in Seattle is fairly far. Living in Seattle in the summer gave me time to scope out a year-long lease and find roommates. I sent an e-mail to cs-grads@cs and new-grads@cs and found two CSE new-grads as roommates. Since two of us were already in Seattle, we scoped out several apartments on Zillow & Craigslist. We eventually signed a lease for a townhome in Central District after house hunting for a month."
Q: Is there air conditioning (A/C) in apartments? What about heating?(top)
Air conditioning is not usually built into apartments or townhomes. To stay cool during the summer, it's common to use a box fan to pull cool air from the outside at night. Most of the heating is forced air; heaters are typically per room or per area (instead of a central furnace).
We conducted a survey on February 2016 for CSE grads and collected rent, rental configuration, and address. For 100 responses, the minimum rent is $400, median $940, mean $981, and maximum is $1860 (numbers are per month excluding utilities). Figure 1 is a box and whisper plot of rent by rental configuration, and Figure 2 is a map of where CSE grads live. You can interactively access the map here.
Here’s a few words (from past and current grads) about each of the neighborhoods.
Greenwood (not on map; northwest of Green Lake):