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go to northside go west on university go south on telegraph go to college/elmwood go downtown go to southside go to piedmont/frat row you’re at HOWE MILVA KITTREDGE FRANCISCO VIRGINIA BERKELEY ADDISON LINCOLN HILGARD VINE BUENA VISTA HILL LE ROY LA VEREDA LE CONTE RIDGE GRIZZLY PEAK SHORT ACTON EOLA CALIFORNIA SPAULDING MCGEE ROOSEVELT GRANT JOSEPHINE MCKINLEY BONITA MILVIA CHANNING HENRY CENTER HAROLD WALNUT JEFFERSON BLAKE TERMINAL KITTEREDGE DURANT GAUSS HASTE FULTON ATHERTON ELLSWORTH PARKER CARLETON WARD STUART PALM RUSSELL CHILTON HOWE SPRUCE ARCH SCENIC HAWTHORNE EUCLID LA LOMA MAYBECK TWIN PINE MOSSWOOD ARDEN PANORAMIC SMYTH FERNWALD WARRING PIEDMONT HILLSIDE LINDEN COLBY OAK KNOLL ORCHARD DWIGHT DANA HILLEGASS CANYON BENVENUE PROSPECT BOWDITCH REGENT FLORENCE BELLROSE TANGLEWOOD CLAREMONT FOREST ETNA STONEWALL CHERRY ELMOOD ELMWOOD KELSEY BATEMAN OLYMPUS HARDING WILSON PARNASSUS CAMPUS FAIRLAWN HIGHLAND PRINCE > ALLSTON DELAWARE WEBSTER GARBER AVALON DERBY CEDAR UNIVERSITY ML KING JR SHATTUCK OXFORD BANCROFT TELEGRAPH COLLEGE ASHBY CLAREMONT
you’re on
southside

This densely populated neighborhood located south of campus contains a strong student presence. Walking down Telegraph Avenue, you’ll encounter a mix of students, tourists and locals checking out the street vendors and pouring in and out of the stores along the street.

Pros:

  • Close proximity to campus
  • Availability of housing
  • Multiple bus lines in area

Cons:

  • Loud and busy area
  • Typically older housing
  • Street cleanliness
you’re on
northside

Northside’s calm environment contrasts with that of the busier Southside area. Northside also offers an array of student cooperatives, elegant apartments and large, single-family homes.

Pros:

  • Beautiful and serene neighborhood
  • Culinary hotspot
  • Easy accessibility to the scenic Tilden Regional Park

Cons:

  • Little nightlife (with the exception of the co-op scene)
  • Expensive
  • Less public transportation
you’re
downtown

The Downtown Area includes the block west of campus and is centered along Shattuck Avenue. Heading a few blocks westward from Shattuck will bring you to residential, tree-lined avenues with apartment buildings and houses.

Pros:

  • Public transportation availability (AC Transit and Downtown Berkeley BART station)
  • Abundance of entertainment venues
  • Hub for civic institutions, restaurants and banks

Cons:

  • Loud and crowded
  • Minimal parking
  • Noisy street sweepers at night
you’re at
college

The heart of the district — the commercial stretch of College Avenue — features a wide variety of local shops, restaurants and coffeehouses as well as a popular movie theater. Housing in the area consists of a mix of small apartment buildings and larger homes.

Pros:

  • Neighborhood with its own “small-town” feeling
  • Close to the trendy Rockridge area
  • Neat and tidy

Cons:

  • Slightly on the expensive side
  • Somewhat removed from campus
  • Slow nightlife
you’re at
piedmont

This bustling, student-oriented neighborhood southeast of campus is home to most of the university’s fraternities and sororities, thus earning its nickname, “frat row.” A multitude of cooperatives and apartment buildings can also be found in this area.

Pros:

  • Heart of the Greek scene
  • Vibrant social spot and nightlife
  • Close proximity to several campus institutions

Cons:

  • Very lively, particularly at night
  • Untidy
  • Heavy emphasis on Greek life
you’re at
university

Berkeley’s University Avenue runs from the marina to the west entrance of campus. For a vibrant music and bar scene, check out the intersecting San Pablo Avenue. Branching out from University, neighborhoods consist of modest, single-family homes intermingled with apartment complexes.

Pros:

  • Affordable housing
  • Quirky bars, shops and restaurants
  • Diverse population

Cons:

  • Far from campus
  • Not a lot of student life
  • Heavily trafficked
you’re at
telegraph

South of Dwight Way on Telegraph, you’ll find an array of cute cafes, antique shops and grocery stores, such as Whole Foods Market. This location features pleasant, tree-lined avenues with small, single-family bungalows, duplexes and fourplexes.

Pros:

  • Affordable housing
  • Eclectic community
  • Public transportation available

Cons:

  • Smaller student population
  • Fewer restaurants and other commercial shops
  • Far from campus
guide to housing
rights

While peeling wallpaper, old cabinets and squeaky doors are inconvenient, ceiling leaks, faulty heating and ants go beyond what counts as minor inconveniences. These are serious issues that threaten an apartment’s habitability that landlords have an obligation, by law, to fix.

The state of California requires that landlords provide tenants with apartments that meet minimum standards: hot and cold running water, heating and electrical lighting, a clean building free of vermin, structurally safe buildings, emergency fire exits and working smoke detectors. Failure to maintain any of these conditions is a violation of state law. Tenants, however, also have the responsibility to keep apartments clean, use appliances properly and not damage rented space.

If habitability conditions are not met, tenants must first notify their landlord. If the landlord fails to respond within what the law calls “a reasonable period of time for the repair” — a month for most issues but less for urgent repairs — tenants may withhold rent to make repairs themselves. Before action is taken, however, tenants should consult an expert, because failure to pay rent could have serious legal repercussions.

Laws also protect tenants from financial abuses by landlords. When tenants apply for an apartment, some landlords may request an application fee for a credit check, although the amount cannot legally exceed the landlord’s actual out-of-pocket cost. As of 2012, that cost cannot exceed $49.50.

When signing a lease, landlords may also request a security deposit. The deposit must be returned within 21 days of the date the tenant vacates the apartment. If the amount returned is less than the initial deposit, the landlord must include an itemized list of deductions. In Berkeley, tenants are also entitled to yearly interest on their deposit.

Many Berkeley apartments are also rent-stabilized, meaning rent cannot be raised on the apartment before one calendar year has passed on the lease. After that, rent may be subject to minimal annual increases.

The city’s Rental Housing Safety Program works to increase the safety of rental properties, and the ASUC’s Renter’s Legal Assistance program is a campus resource for tenant resources.

For a more comprehensive list of rights, Berkeley tenants may visit the websites of the city of Berkeley and California Department of Consumer Affairs.

— Jacob Brown

move in,
move out

Move-in

This is it — you’ve found your place, paid the lease and signed the papers. Now it’s time to move in. Don’t be fooled, though — moving in is perhaps the most daunting task you’ll have to tackle before you settle into your new home. Luckily, we’ve provided a few easy steps to help reduce the stress!

1. Pack lightly and intelligently

Let’s be realistic: You’re here for college, not necessarily living here forever. Do you really need that TV and all those gaming consoles you’ve had back at home for your entire life? Probably not. There can’t be enough said for the importance of packing lightly. Remember why you’re there in the first place, and be sure to make packing those textbooks, toiletries, clothes and important items of furniture your first priority.

2. Communicate

Stay in touch with your roommates! The last thing anyone wants is to end up with three tables and no chairs. Create a communal checklist with your future housemates about who’s bringing what and how it will get there. To transport your items, numerous moving services are available in the Bay Area. College Storage & Student Services, for instance, is just one company that offers full-service storage, study-abroad and short-term storage, shipping and retail-to-school delivery.

3. Stay organized

Organization is key! Do some planning before the actual move happens. Follow up with your checklists, and make sure you have everything you’ll need before you move in. Pack boxes, and label them accordingly to keep everything in order. Additionally, don’t forget to make a list of damages in your apartment when you move in so you don’t get charged when you eventually move out.

Move-out

Well, you’ve had some good times, but whether it’s a change of plans or graduation, it’s time to move out. So… where to begin? Amid the plethora of furniture, clothes, appliances and other miscellaneous accessories, something’s got to go.

  1. A good way to reduce your load is to pass on some of your bulkier items, such as furniture and appliances, to others. Find a friend who will be moving into an apartment or house. Try to sell anything else you might have on Craigslist or eBay. There’s always a sizable audience looking for apartment necessities, especially in college towns.

  2. Above all, when packing your things, remember to always use common sense. Heavier items go in the bottom, lighter things on top. Don't pack your books or other heavy items in large boxes that will be difficult to carry out of your building.

  3. Again, the importance of good organization can never be stressed enough. Planning ahead will make a significant difference in the stress level and ease of your move.

— Nick Cotter

housing
guide

After moving out of the dorms, there is a plethora of housing options to choose from. If you decide to find an apartment, house or unit to rent, it can be a daunting experience and a harsh introduction to the adult world. Fortunately, apartment-hunting is a skill that can be acquired quickly, and there are many resources out there to help.

Finding people: Choosing whom to live with is the first step of the process. Some people decide to sublet an open space in an already occupied apartment while others gather a group of friends and then look for a space together. In either case, make sure you get all those “living together” questions out of the way. Living with friends can change your relationship, for better or worse.

Finding places: If you’ve rallied up a group to live with, the first step is to think about what size of apartment you’re looking for, which amenities are important to you and how much you can afford. Once you have that settled, it’s time to begin looking.

PadMapper, one of the most useful apartment websites, gathers information from Craigslist and other sites and plots it on a map. The map function allows you to keep track of what you’ve seen, focus on places by location and set maximums and minimums for bedrooms, bathrooms and rent.

However, PadMapper does not include all Craigslist posts, so it is useful to conduct a supplementary search of the site. You can limit your query by searching for keywords like “laundry,” inputting a max rent or simply scrolling through all the 2+ bedroom listings in the Berkeley area. Craigslist is comprehensive, but it’s also, well, Craigslist, so be on the lookout for potentially sketchy listings.

The Facebook group “Housing” under Berkeley groups is another useful resource, great for finding rooms and spaces available as well as whole apartments that people are leaving. The fact it’s on Facebook opens up communication and limits the possibility of creepers.

Cal Rentals, part of the UC Berkeley Housing website, is a subscription-based apartment-search website. Placing rental ads is free, but students must pay $20 for three months of access. The site also includes a map function as well as an option to search for a room or roommate.

Another strategy is to simply walk down the street. Many units will advertise outside that they have rentals available. Jot down the number and address, and call away — you never know whether it might be the one.

Getting a place: You don’t always get the first place you love. It’s important to be persistent, straightforward and polite. Make sure to ask all the questions you can think of and more. It’s better to find out surprises now than later, and having a professional, trustworthy landlord will save you endless trouble. Search early (two months before you’d like to move in), and have money and applications ready.

Apartment application processes can be competitive. Create a profile of all the people in your group to gain that extra edge. Include pictures and a short bio with your major, job, and activities so the landlord can see that you’re a responsible, hardworking bunch.

Although it’s not easy, apartment-hunting is great life experience. Best of luck in your searches! There’s more out there than you think.

— Fiona Hannigan

guide to housing
types

Housing in Berkeley is almost as diverse as the city’s inhabitants. From university-owned dorms to private apartments to co-ops, there is an option for every student who wishes to live in the city. Read on to learn about the different housing types the area offers.

Dorms:

Dorms are one of the best places to make new friends. Living in a hall with strangers leads to memorable stories for all — from awkward encounters in unisex bathrooms to spontaneous Late Night runs with floormates.

Rent is approximately $1,300 to $2,000 per month depending on the unit, and getting sick at least once in such close quarters is all but included in the fine print of the housing contract. Most people, however, remember their dorm experience fondly and stay in touch with floormates well past their move-out dates.

Private dorms:

For those who want a dorm experience other than the one offered by UC Berkeley, there are multiple private dorms in the area. These include the Berk on College, the Wesley House on Bancroft and Telegraph Commons. Private dorms offer similar amenities to campus housing but tend to be newer. Like campus dorms, private dorms have residential staff, communal bathrooms and kitchens. Rates run similar as well, from $900 to $1,200 per month to share a room.

Apartments:

Apartment hunting in Berkeley is akin to finding a job in the financial sector — it’s all about whom you know and how fast you can act. Some students take over graduating friends’ leases, and others scour websites in search for apartments. In the last quarter of 2012 market median rents were $1,095 for a studio, $1,300 for a one-bedroom, $1,700 for a two-bedroom and $2,600 for a three-bedroom, according to city data.

Co-ops:

For those looking for an affordable and delicious way to live, the Berkeley Student Cooperative is a good place to start. In exchange for quality housing and access to home-cooked meals, residents participate in work shifts to help maintain their house. Each house has a distinct personality — ask a friend or member to give you a tour, or check out their profiles online. Monthly rents range from $433 to $881, depending on the type of housing.

To live in co-ops, apply on their website, submit a $50 deposit and cross your fingers!

Fraternities and sororities:

If you’ve walked down Piedmont Avenue, you’ve most likely seen those abnormally large houses that look like they’re straight from either “Animal House” or a fairytale. Welcome to the fraternities and sororities of UC Berkeley, home to a sizable student population. Some members will be able to live in their house after rushing and pledging at a fraternity or sorority.

Amenities include cooking and cleaning services, access to social events and close proximity to campus. Prices depend on the frat or sorority but often range upward of $600 per month.

Commuting:

Others choose to live outside of Berkeley entirely — often commuting from home or from surrounding cities such as Emeryville, Oakland and Albany. There are multiple resources available for those who commute, including Cal Commuter, an organization that provides services from advisers and commuting tips on the fastest ways to get to campus. The Cal Commuter website also provides helpful links to housing within Berkeley and to the different transportation services connecting to the city.

— Sophie Ho

handling
 fires

A recent report from Berkeley Fire Department shows that 64 residential fires with an estimated $4 million in property damages took place in 2012.

Last year, a six-unit apartment building on Dwight Way caught on fire. In November 2011, a fire broke out in a five-story apartment building on Telegraph Avenue and Haste Street, destroying two restaurants with it. Both apartment buildings were demolished in subsequent months after they were deemed structurally unsound.

A few of the common causes of fire may be faulty electrical wiring, unattended food on the stove or unattended burning candles, according to Berkeley Fire Marshal John Fitch.

Moreover, with Berkeley’s unique mix of old and new buildings, many older buildings do not have sprinkler systems. However, the heavier timber construction of older buildings may make it harder for a building to burn, Fitch said.

According to Igor Tregub, a Zoning Adjustments Board member and former Rent Stabilization Board member, landlords are required to conduct a housing inspection of their properties on an annual basis.

Tenants can also be cited if they “modify, damage, destroy” or change the premises in any way that may endanger the safety of the public or other occupants, according to the Rental Housing Safety Program’s website.

Berkeley Fire Department conducts more than 3,000 inspections yearly, Fitch said.

He recommended a series of preventive measures Berkeley residents can take to reduce the risk of fire at home:

  1. Check whether smoke detectors are in place, and make sure they actually work. Ideally, smoke detectors should be placed in bedrooms and common areas. Residents should make sure they can hear the alarm, should it go off. If the smoke detector is not working, they should replace the batteries as soon as possible.
  2. Avoid fire hazards. Make sure the stove is turned off when it is not in use, and don’t leave candles unattended. Keep a careful watch on any heating equipment. Also, make sure electrical outlets are not overloaded. Leaving extension cords plugged in all the time can result in appliances heating up, and faulty electrical wiring can then create a fire.
  3. Leave doors and hallways unobstructed. Have an escape plan, and know all routes out of the building. Ensure there are no objects blocking potential ways out.

— Daphne Chen

guide to
transportation

Commuting

Although perfect for grocery shopping, owning a car in Berkeley can be a hassle when dealing with traffic and parking. Student campus permits can run up to $327 per semester, and if you’re lucky enough to score street parking, watch out for the city’s parking enforcement officers, as they can be unforgiving. Plan on budgeting for a parking permit or parking tickets.

Buses

With 110 bus lines, AC Transit may be the most useful transportation method in Berkeley for those without cars. The fare is $2.10 per bus ride, but UC Berkeley students can ride free with the AC sticker issued by the campus, as it is included with registration fees. Although buses often run behind schedule, NextBus.com offers real time departures, so you can save time.

BART

For traveling longer distances, BART allows you to move rapidly within the Bay Area without much of a hassle by running every 15 minutes on weekdays. However, BART tickets can be quite expensive, with a round trip from downtown San Francisco to Berkeley costing an average of $7.40. Using BART every day may be too pricey for some.

Biking

Biking provides easy traffic navigation throughout the city. Moreover, you are almost always guaranteed a place to park your bike. Berkeley ranks as the safest city in California with a population greater than 60,000 for walking and biking, the Berkeley Transportation Office reports. Just make sure to follow traffic rules, and invest in a good lock to avoid theft.

— Andrea Guzman