Housing and Living
Stanford has a strong residential character. Over half of all graduate students live in university-operated apartments. The university's residence system is among the largest and most diverse in the nation.
How does on-campus housing work?
There is a lottery and when you enter it, you list your choice of housing options in preferential order. Housing is guaranteed for first-year graduate students, but this means that you must apply on time and select the option that you are willing to accept any living arrangement (studio, two people in a two-bedroom, three people in a two-bedroom, etc.). If you submit your choices by the deadline, usually you obtain your top housing choices.
If you are staying into a second year of MS work, students can renew the same housing assignment for the following year without entering a lottery. Thus, if you are happy with whatever assignment you get in the fall of your first year (and you live in a residence that is open year-round), in the spring of your first year you now can just check "renew" on your housing application for the next year and keep your assignment for the following year.
Pets are not allowed in campus housing.
How much does on-campus housing cost per month?
The cost of housing varies. The general rule of thumb is that the more room/suite-mates you have, the lower the rent. If you would like to have a room to yourself (double-occupancy two-bedroom, etc.) then you should expect to pay more. If you do not mind sharing a room, then the cost drops some.
What is included in on-campus housing costs?
In addition to the rent, the cost of housing covers basic utilities (electricity and water). Laundry is free to students living on campus. Also, most on-campus apartments are furnished so you don't have to worry about the cost of furniture. Additional charges will apply for an internet connection, cable TV, etc. (These services are easily available and are relatively inexpensive). If you have a car, you will need to purchase a campus parking permit, but they are relatively inexpensive for students.
What are the off-campus housing options?
A popular way to find off-campus housing is to use Craigslist. You can perform specific searches of price ranges or towns or places that accept pets. The places listed include condos, homes for rent, individual cottages, or apartments. If you do a search on Craigslist, go to "apts/housing" and then click on "Peninsula" at the top of the screen (S.F. Bay Area prompt). Depending upon the specific location, the following towns are within bikeable distance from Stanford: Menlo Park, Atherton and Palo Alto. Redwood City, Los Altos and Mountain View are a minimum of a ~30 min bike ride.
How much do off-campus apartments costs per month?
Depending upon how many roommates you have, monthly rent can range from $600-$1,200/per person.
How can I find a roommate?
Most incoming students do not know people at Stanford and so do not choose their roommates. However, if you do find/choose someone you would like to room with in university housing, then you can request that Housing Assignments Office assign both of you to the same housing location. There is also a roommate-finding website.
What about housing for couples or families?
There are several options for on-campus couples housing-furnished or unfurnished. Please see the Housing Options page for information about housing for couples without children and students with children.
Can I get health insurance for my dependents as a grad student?
Spouses, same-sex domestic partners, and dependent children of students are eligible to enroll in Cardinal Care (the University’s student health care plan). Students must be enrolled in Cardinal Care before their dependents
What’s the bottom line?
MS students should budget at least $600 per quarter for books and supplies above tuition and housing costs. Information on tuition fees and other typical costs such as for housing may be found on the following sites:
- Office of Financial Aid — Estimated Expense Budget
- Student Housing — Housing Assignments
- Student Housing — Housing Rates
Activities in the Local and Surrounding Areas
What do people do for fun?
The Office of Student Activities and Leadership (SAL) within the Dean of Students Office supports over 600 university-recognized, incredibly diverse student groups on campus.
There are various gyms on campus, along with many intramural sports and club sports. There are also athletic classes you can take for credit (kickboxing, Pilates, boot camp, yoga, etc) or simply for fun at the residence complexes. Other than sports, there are a plethora of cultural events in the arts, dance, music and other live performances on and off campus. San Jose is ~20 minutes away while San Francisco is ~45 minutes away by car. Both are also accessible by public transportation. If you prefer outdoor activities, hiking trails and extensive bicycle routes are minutes away and a few hours of driving can take you to Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, the northern California Redwoods, etc. while Santa Cruz and Monterrey are closer attractions.
What are the common attractions in the area surrounding the San Francisco Bay?
San Francisco has abundant theaters and cultural events, SFMOMA, Civic Center, Asian Museum, China Town, Fisherman's Wharf, Golden Gate Park (de Young Museum) and Golden Gate Bridge. Further north, you can visit Muir Woods redwood park, various marinas, Point Reyes National Seashore, etc., while further south you can visit Monterey Bay Aquarium, stroll beaches along the Pacific Ocean, go rock climbing and tour wineries in the Santa Cruz mountains.
How is the transportation system? How do you get around?
There are on-campus shuttles that also access the local train stations, local bus lines, CalTrain, BART and Muni. Many students have cars. Many do not. The majority of students also have bikes to get around on campus.
Are there intramural sports and sports clubs?
Yes to both. Intramural sports range from volleyball to soccer to billiards, and club sports range from triathlon to sailing to martial arts. The CEE department fields several teams.
How are the gym facilities?
The Arrillaga Family Sports and Recreation Center is the primary gym for students. The facility is on Campus Drive right across from the track. At Arrillaga, you'll find squash courts, a climbing wall, basketball courts and a weight room with cardio-machines (elliptical machines, treadmills, stationary bikes, etc.). Students also can take classes for physical activities such as martial arts (Arrillaga has a training room), fencing, yoga, etc.
Also, the recently opened Arrillaga Outdoor Education and Recreation Center (AOERC) is the newest recreational facility on campus. It's on Santa Teresa Street right next to Roble Field and a short walk from the CEE department. AOERC features a fitness center, outdoor recreational pool, three indoor courts, academic classrooms, a climbing wall and an outdoor recreation center.
Stanford also has a great outdoor pool center and has several tennis courts spread across campus. It is not unusual for Stanford to host national track-and-field or ATP tour events, so you shouldn't be surprised to see some big names in sports strolling about on campus.