Before You Arrive

How to find a place to live

There are several different ways to find housing in Seattle. It is a pretty large city so you can usually find a place to live at any time of year. Most students show up at the end of August or the beginning of September; usually this gives them enough time to find a place to live and begin to get settled before orientation starts up. (Keep in mind, though, that lots of other students, graduate and undergraduate, will be looking for apartments at the same time.)

  • The Student Housing Affairs office (located in the HUB), has plenty of listings of apartments and shared housing available. They also offer lots of housing resources for students, such as references for legal help.

  • plots all U.S. universities and colleges on an interactive map, so that students can easily find housing near their university. They show grocery stores, laundromats, and other amenities near the University of Washington. They have a video tutorial available. This is a great and free tool for students looking for off-campus housing. You can read more on their About MyApartmentMap page.

  • The student newspaper, The Daily, also has some listings. In the spring many rentals come on the market, as students prepare to graduate and leave. (Thus spring is a good time to find a new apartment.)

  • The Seattle Times has rentals in their classifieds.

  • craigslist Seattle is a great place to find rentals.

  • On-campus housing makes your life simpler: one stop, one bill, one priority: You. Housing & Food Services (HFS) offers a wide range of options for graduate students, whether single or married, with or without children. Safety, convenience, and good value are earmarks of campus housing, and there are so many opportunities for social and professional linkages. Interested students are encouraged to contact Housing & Food Services for information.
    301 Schmitz Hall!

Where to live?

Seattle is divided up into districts, each with its own charm and attraction. (The map at right is from the university housing web page, which boasts more information on finding places housing.)

  • The University District is close to campus. A lot of students live there, however, so it can get noisy sometimes. It's very convenient (you can walk to campus, the bookstore, numerous restaurants), but you should expect to pay a bit more for the convenience. Apartments tend to be smaller as well.

  • The University Village area is also close to campus and to the University Village shopping mall. Rentals tend to be expensive here as well due to the proximity to campus and shopping, but the convenience is hard to beat, especially if you don't have a car.

Seattle has a great bus system, so you can realistically live further away from campus where rents might be cheaper. If you find an apartment you can use the Metro's Trip Planner to find out how long the commute to Padelford would take. (Plug in the intersection of Stevens Way and Pend Orielle Rd. for Padelford.)

The university housing service center has a great web page which gives short descriptions of most of the Seattle neighborhoods; this should help you narrow your search down. Some areas are more expensive than others but in general you can find one bedroom apartments for around $700 a month, and a studio for $600. Shared housing is more reasonable, around $450 a month.

Some nearby convenient neighborhoods are Wedgewood, Sand Point, Fremont, Wallingford, Ravenna, Montlake, Greenlake, and Eastlake.

Health care, insurance & shots.

Hall Health

Hall Health Center is conveniently located right next door to Padelford. There are regular doctors, an emergency clinic, women's clinic, pharmacy, lab, sports medicine doctors, travel clinic, physical therapy. For most services such as a regular doctors visit, there is no fee for currently enrolled students. Your insurance is billed. For other services (labs, x-rays, etc) there will be some fees after your insurance has been billed.

The travel clinic is useful if you plan to visit another country and you want to make sure you have the right immunizations.


All students must have health insurance. The university has a TA/RA insurance package which comes with your TA/RA/GSA/VIGRE stipend.

The TA/RA insurance plan also has dental and vision coverage. For participating dentists/optometrists, check with the insurance group. Hall Health and/or your fellow students can also give you recommendations.

It is a good idea to make sure that any doctor you visit outside of the University of Washington Medical System takes the TA/RA insurance plan. Not all do.


As far as shots go, you are required to have an immunization record with a recent MMR (measles/rubeola) shot. More details on this are online. Waivers are available if you need one for personal reasons.

You can usually get flu shots in the fall quarter at Hall Health Center, depending on availability. The cost is around $10. Local supermarkets and clinic will also offer flu shots as well.

Visiting before you accept.

If you plan to visit the UW to see whether you'd like to be a grad student here, you'll need a place to stay and directions from the airport.

Options for places to stay:

  • If you don't mind couches, there is usually a spare one in a grad student's home that you can sleep on. Talk to your grad student or faculty contact person about this option.
  • Local hotels.

Options for getting from the airport to the University District:

  • Your grad student or faculty contact person may be able to organise for someone to pick you up, so ask them.
  • There are several metro buses that go from the airport to downtown. (It's a long ride, so leave early enough to arrive at the airport two hours before your flight (three hours for international flights).) From downtown you, can connect almost anywhere; bus timetables are here. Exact fare is required on the buses. Or, use your U-Pass.
  • There are airport shuttle companies which charge about $30 one-way. They have a booth in the baggage claim area of the airport.
  • If you're staying in a hotel, they may have a shuttle.
  • You can hire a cab, but expect to pay at least $50 before tip.