Finding the pefect place to live: Types of housing in Berkeley


It’s 7 p.m., and the smell of freshly baked bread hits you. You have just completed all five hours of your shift at work this week, and the vivid murals around you quickly fade as you dig into the kale and quinoa salad sitting on your Tupperware lid. If nightly house-cooked meals in a stimulating environment sound characteristic of your ideal home, the Berkeley Student Cooperative is a viable option for you. The campus offers 20 co-ops — some of which are vegetarian, all women or African American themed — that all depend on members working together to create a cohesive ambience. Members sign up for weekly work-shift hours, during which they do housework, such as cooking or vacuuming. Co-ops also hold events such as concerts, spoken word, and wine and cheese nights. When applying online, you have to pay a $50 deposit, input your personal information and list your top housing choices. Tenants pay a monthly rent between $700 and $900, which gives them access to food and most utilities. The slightly crowded and less-than-spotlessly clean feel of communal living can be insignificant when taking into consideration each house’s colorful culture.

Campus housing

Campus housing is a good option for students who want to focus on being students and don’t want to worry about paying next month’s electricity bill on time. For the price of about $1,300 to $1,800 a month, you won’t have to wash dishes, clean bathrooms or cook. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it, right? If you agree, the land of meal points and transitioning adulthood await you. Campus housing is a way to meet and bond with other students while brushing your teeth or covering up the chalkboard in the study lounge with that pesky Math 16B problem. There’s also a support system intact — resident assistants can act as a mediator in tough situations. Online housing applications for dorms require a $20 nonrefundable application fee. Some on-campus housing options such as the Maximino Martinez Commons offer apartments as well as dorm rooms.

Apartments and houses

Face down on your futon, you hear Ella Fitzgerald’s voice from the depths of Spotify on your speakers as your pasta boils on the stove. This is your space — your very own apartment. You have the luxury of a private bathroom, and you can fill your fridge with the latest produce from Berkeley Bowl — hello, Swedish Gruyere — or from Trader Joe’s — cookie butter, anyone? The lack of community presence can make you feel isolated, but living in an apartment teaches you to be independent and allows you to be fully in control of your surroundings. You can find your ideal apartment by walking around, asking graduating seniors for their apartments or using sites such as Craigslist, PadMapper or even the UC Berkeley housing group on Facebook. You can also round up a group of friends and rent a house for the year. Without neighbors sharing your walls and halls, a house provides a freer atmosphere. You don’t have to worry about being too loud, and you typically have more common spaces.

Fraternities and sororities

If your ideal college experience involves exchanges with the house across the street, rush events, large mansion-style houses and an extended family of sisters or brothers, sorority or fraternity housing may be a good fit for you. Conveniently located around Piedmont Avenue, 12 sororities and 29 fraternities offer housing options. Overall costs — including rent, meals, cleaning services, membership dues and others — add up to about $8,000 to $10,000 annually. Greek housing offers its residents a strong friend base and networking community of alumni.

Contact Perwana Nazif at [email protected]