New Comer > Housing

There are several terms that you need to know before you start looking for a place to live.


Lease - A contract between you and the landlord stating your commitment to pay rent for a period of time (usually a year). In case you break the lease, the landlord has the right to keep you security deposit.

Security Deposit - An amount of money (usually two months of rent) you pay when you sign a lease. The landlord can keep the money if you break the lease. At the time you move out, the landlord may still need to keep the money until the utility bills arrive. Then part of the security deposit will be used to pay your part of the utility bills. The remaining will be returned to you.

Utility - Electricity, water, cooking and heating gas, etc.


Your have the following options: on-campus housing, off-campus apartment, or off-campus house.

On-Campus House or Apartment

The biggest advantage of on-campus housing is the closeness to the classrooms, labs, libraries, etc. However, there are certain disadvantages:

  • You usually need to sign a lease for a school year.
  • You may need to share a room with someone else.
  • You may be required to participate in a meal plan.
  • During school breaks (winter and summer breaks etc.), you may need to move out.

You need to find out the above details before you sign a lease.

Off-Campus Apartment

You can share a two- or three-bedroom apartment with someone else, who has rented the apartment. Issues to clarify are:

  • Is any utility not included in the rent? If yes, how is that going to be divided among the different people living there?
  • Although people usually don't share rooms in this situation, ask and make sure.
  • How many phone lines exist in the apartment? How can you get your telephone hooked up? How much do you need to pay for local telephone service?
  • Is the area safe? Ask people other than who is trying to rent you the room.
  • How can you get to the campus? If by bus, ask for a schedule. Pay attention to the bus frequency, as well as night and weekend availability.
  • How can you shop for grocery or do other shopping? Will you be able to get a ride from you apartment mate?
  • How many people living in the apartment? How many bathrooms are available?
  • Is a lease required? If yes, for how long? If no, what kind of move-out notice is needed?

Off-Campus House

You run into the same issues as in off-campus apartment, plus the following:

  • Where do you do laundry?
  • How good is the heating system in winter, and the air conditioning in summer?

Take Action

Get in touch with the Chinese student association in your university and ask them to help you find a place to live. The Airport Pickup page has contact information for most universities.

ChineseInUS Homepage
Related Information
Where to find available housing?
  Chinese students e-mail list.
  Posting around the campus.
  Local newspaper.
  Local Chinese stores.
  Local newsgroups.
  Housing information service of your campus.

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