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A Freshman’s Guide to Student Housing at the University of Texas at Austin (Updated for 2024)

By Ellen

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to UT Austin, and you’re moving to Austin this fall. Now that you’re officially a Longhorn, it’s time to decide where you’re going to live for your freshman year.

Finding housing at the University of Texas can be difficult, especially if you are a first-year student who is not familiar with the student housing market in Austin.

Read Next: Where Do Students Live Near the University of Texas at Austin?

At Rambler, we have helped hundreds of students find their home for the school year, and we understand how overwhelming the search for housing can be. This guide will take you through every step of the process from what housing is available in West Campus to whether you should live on-campus or off-campus. We will answer our most-asked questions, including:

Ultimate Guide to Freshman Housing near UT Austin

The UT tower at the University of Texas at Austin.

What housing is available near UT?

There are many types of student housing to choose from, including on-campus residence halls, off-campus private dorms, and off-campus apartments. At UT, freshmen are not required to live on-campus, but it is common for underclassmen to live in the on-campus dorms. Alternatively, many freshmen choose to live off-campus in student housing apartments. In fact, only 18% of UT Austin students live on campus!

On-Campus Dorms vs. Off-Campus Housing

There are three main housing options to consider for your freshman year:

  • On-campus dorms (residence halls)
  • Off-campus (private) dorms
  • Off-campus apartments

On-campus dorms are the most common option for freshmen at UT. These are owned and operated by the University of Texas. On-campus dorms offer a variety of layouts, including a double (shared) room with a community bathroom (the most popular layout), a double room with a connected bathroom, a triple room or a single room. There are limited availability of “premium” floor plans, including single or double rooms with a private bathroom. However, these are only offered at specific residence halls and since availability is limited, they are hard to secure. Rooms with a community bathroom will oftentimes come with a sink in the room, but not always. There is no kitchen included in any of the units, so that meal plan will come in handy here, but you’ll be provided with a microwave for quick meals.

These residence halls are located on campus, with most clustered at either the southeast corner of campus near DKR stadium and Gregory gym or on the northeast corner, near The Drag (restaurants and retail along Guadalupe Street) and West Campus.

Jester West UT Austin

Exterior of Jester West, an on-campus UT Residence Hall. Photo courtesy of

Off-campus dorms are specifically designed to give students a similar experience to the residence halls, but they are privately owned and operated. Off-campus dorms will offer similar layouts to on-campus dorms, like suite-style or single rooms. Most private dorms are located in West Campus. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • The Callaway House
  • The Castilian
  • Scottish Rite Dormitory
  • Hardin House

Finally, there are a number of student-oriented apartments available near UT Austin. The biggest difference in an apartment rather than a dorm is that you’ll have more living space, including a kitchen and a living room. Most students who live off campus choose to live in one of three neighborhoods:

  • West Campus: West Campus is the neighborhood just west of UT campus. This is the most popular neighborhood for underclassmen who choose to live off campus. If you’re looking to build community at your new school, West Campus is definitely the place to be. For more explanation on the benefits of living in West Campus, read our article on the 5 Reasons Students at UT Austin Should Live in West Campus.
  • North Campus: North Campus is located just north of UT campus and is a popular area for upperclassmen and graduate students.
  • Riverside: Riverside is a neighborhood about 15 minutes south of campus with a number of student apartments. This area is one of the more affordable neighborhoods for students to live, but you will have to plan to commute to and from campus (either plan to drive and pay to park on campus or take the shuttle each day).

One main difference between on-campus and private dorms versus student apartments is a meal plan. Typically, on-campus and private dorms include a meal plan for residents. Off-campus student apartments include kitchens, so you’ll be responsible for grocery shopping and cooking your own meals.

Another difference is the length of your lease term. Dorm leases are tied to the academic calendar, so they run from August to May (nine months). Student apartment leases typically last 12 months, starting in August and ending in July. For international or out-of-state students who can’t travel home as easily, or those looking to live in Austin during the summer for an internship or otherwise, an apartment might be a better fit for you. Dorms close when the University closes for breaks, so you’ll be required to leave the property during Thanksgiving break, Winter break, Spring break and the summer.

The last difference you’ll find are the amenities included at the different housing properties. On-campus dorms make use of campus-wide amenities, including Greg Gym or the PCL. On-property amenities typically include the laundry room, study areas and a social area with TVs, pool tables and other games to mingle with other freshmen.

For off-campus private dorms and student apartments, amenities will vary based on each property. Many will include a fitness center, laundry, study areas and a pool. Though private dorms and older student housing properties have a more basic offering of amenities, some of the newer, luxury apartments include many upscale features, such as a rooftop pool deck, spin or yoga room, coffee shops, basketball courts and more.

Interior image of Rambler's living room furniture and finishes

Representative unit interior featuring Rambler’s standard furniture and finishes.

Which is Right for Me?

In order to decide which housing option is better for you, you should weigh the pros and cons of each option and how they suit your lifestyle. Do you enjoy cooking your meals? Do you value having your own bedroom and/or bathroom? Maybe an apartment is best. Are you planning on going home for the summer time? Do you prefer to have a meal plan so you don’t have to worry about cooking and meal planning your freshman year? If so, an on-campus or dorm-style property better suits your needs.

You should also consider location and where you think you’ll spend the majority of your time on campus. If you’re looking to get heavily involved within campus and plan on taking many classes, living on-campus will probably be more convenient for you. However, if you’re looking to join Greek life, a spirit org or other social group, you’ll probably spend a lot of time in West Campus, making a private dorm or apartment better for you.

Lastly, consider who you want to be surrounded by. On-campus and off-campus dorms house mostly freshmen, so you’ll be surrounded by people in your class and around your same age. If you’re looking to meet many new people in your class, these properties are suited to mingle. The property will typically host resident events for freshmen to meet each other, not to mention how many people you’ll meet in the dining hall every meal. At an apartment, you’re going to get a bigger variety of students, including both upperclassmen and underclassmen.

Read the full article here: What Types of Housing Are Available for UT Austin Students?

When should I start looking for housing?

Interior image of Rambler kitchen with furnishings and appliances.

Representative kitchen featuring Rambler’s standard finishes and appliances.

If you’ve already confirmed your acceptance to UT, you should start looking at housing now! With approximately 9,000 new students enrolling each year, the housing process can be competitive.

If you’re interested in living in an apartment, start contacting the leasing offices as soon as possible since you’re competing with the upperclassmen who have been signing leases during the fall. Student apartments usually start signing leases about 12 months prior to move in, with many of the most desirable apartments becoming fully leased in the spring before move in.

If you’re looking at an off-campus dorm, you should plan to sign sometime in January or February if you want to be ahead of the game.

If you’re looking at an on-campus dorm, you can submit your housing application as soon as August 1, before you’re even admitted to UT Austin. The faster you submit your application, the higher you’ll be on their waitlist, which betters your chance of securing the style and hall you prefer. Contracts will go out the first and 15th of the month, starting in March. So, if you’re interested in on-campus housing, start your application ASAP!

Read the full article here: When to Start Looking for Housing as a UT Austin Student

How much does it cost to live near UT Austin?

On-Campus + Private Dorms

Residence halls fall on the mid-to-high end of the student housing price range. Upon publication in January 2024, 2024-25 residence hall rates range from $13,504 for a shared space with a community bath to $20,447 for a Duren single with a private bath. These rates are quoted per person for the nine-month contract. These rates include room, meal plan, internet service and laundry.

Off-campus private dorms also fall on the mid-to-high end of the student housing price range. If you’re looking for a shared bedroom, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $2,200 per month. For a private bedroom, prices range from $1,650 to $3,500 per month. These rates include room, meal plan and internet service. Depending on the property, rates may also include laundry service. Although this is a wide range, narrowing down which property is right for you, which we will discuss later in this article, will help you determine a more accurate cost for your floor plan preference.

Off-Campus Apartments

How much you’ll pay in rent can vary greatly because of a number of different factors. Floor plan style, location, amenities, building age and room/unit features are just a few examples. Rental rates can range from around $700 to $2,000 per person, per month. The best way to get accurate pricing for the properties and floor plans you’re interested in is calling their leasing staff or booking a tour!

Remember when thinking about your budget that dorms will be on a nine-month lease and apartments will be a 12-month lease. Also, apartments will not include meals in their pricing.

Read the full article here: How Much Does it Cost to Live Near UT Austin?

To help you make an apples-to-apples comparison between the cost to live in a dorm versus an apartment, check out our article that explains what is typically included in your off-campus apartment rent.

How do I find roommates as a freshman at the University of Texas?

4 roommates in rambler kitchen

Your roommate will be a huge part of your freshman year experience, unless you opt for a single dorm or studio apartment (which come at the higher end of the price range).

The space you share with your roommates is dictated by the type of housing you choose and what floor plan you have.

For example, most dorms are set up as one room with two beds, or a “direct roommate.” In this case you will share a room with your roommate.  Depending on the dorm, you may have a suite-style layout, where you and your roommate plus another set of roommates share a bathroom, or you may have a community bathroom that’s open to your dorm hall.

Most student apartments and a select few dorms are set up apartment style, where you have your own room (and sometimes bathroom) and you share the living space and kitchen with your roommates. You can think of these less as roommates and more as “apartment-mates.”

Apartments, especially in West Campus, primarily offer single-occupancy bed spaces in apartments ranging from one- to six-bedrooms. This means that you’d have your own room, but you might share your living area and kitchen with as many as five other roommates.

However, some apartments offer double occupancy. This means you’ll live in an apartment but share your bedroom with a roommate, similar to a dorm. This is a significant way to cut costs on rent since you’re essentially splitting the cost with a roommate.

Since you’ll likely have roommates, you may be wondering – how do I find roommates?

If you decide to live in a dorm, you’ll have the option to request a roommate or match with a roommate with similar lifestyle choices to you. If you know someone going to UT that you want to live with, or you find someone through the processes I explain below, you’ll tell the University their name and information so you’ll be placed together. This process is also the same for off-campus private dorms, but instead of contacting the university, you’ll email the property directly.

If you would prefer to be matched with a roommate, UT Housing offers a Roommate Profile Tool to help you search and pair with a roommate based on similar interests, lifestyles or major to you. For off-campus private dorms, you’ll fill out a roommate questionnaire and the property will try to match you with someone that will be a good fit.

Apartments typically offer similar options. You can either sign a lease with preselected roommates, or they may be able to match you with other roommates.

If you don’t know anyone to live with, but you don’t want to leave it up to your housing provider to match you with a roommate, there are some steps you can take to find your perfect roommate on your own.

The most common way is to reach out via Facebook or Instagram. When you’re admitted to UT, you will be invited to join the class Facebook groups so you can connect with future classmates. This is a great place to look for a roommate! I’d recommend creating a post for yourself, highlighting where you are looking to live, some defining character traits, what you’re looking to get involved in on campus, and some photos of yourself! You can also browse your classmates’ posts and reach out to those that you think might be a good match. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!

In addition, search for your class UT Instagram page (ex: @texasclassof2028). You can submit the same info to this page to be highlighted on the feed!

If you are beginning your roommate search or are curious about your compatibility with the roommate you selected, check out our downloadable Roommate Questionnaire.

Rambler Roommate Questionnaire

For more information on the roommate process or how to find them, read our guide on How to Find Roommates at the University of Texas at Austin.

What are my next steps?

Once you’ve decided which housing you prefer, you’ll start the process of securing your spot! Here is a brief breakdown of what to do for on- and off-campus housing.


If you’re interested in living on-campus, you should start your housing application ASAP. The sooner you complete it, the higher you’ll be on the waitlist, so you’ll have a better chance at getting your preferred dorm. Then, you’ll receive your housing contract offer (they start sending them out on March 1) and complete that. After you’ve signed the contract, then you’ll be able to submit your preferences for buildings, bathrooms and roommates. Finally, at the beginning of June, the room selection process begins. Remember that your first preference may not be available by the time your selection time is, so have back-ups just in case. You can read more details on the UT Residence Hall website.


Off-campus housing works a bit differently. First, make a list of potential places you’re interested in. Then, schedule tours with the leasing staff to get more info on rates, amenities and availability. It requires a little more effort from you, but you’ll also have more control over where you end up living.

Once you’ve picked the place for you, you’ll complete an application, sign a lease agreement, and pay any required fees. Then you’re all set! For more information on the process, check out our step-by-step guide: How to Sign a Lease at a Student Housing Apartment near UT Austin.

As a first year student at UT Austin, you may be wondering what you should bring to make sure you have the best college living experience. If this sounds like you, download our College Packing List for UT Austin Students to avoid forgetting something of importance.

Rambler Packing List for UT Student

We hope this article gave you more insight on what the differences between on- and off-campus housing are, as well as how to determine which option is best for you. If you want any more information or guidance, you should explore the Resources section of our website. We have a plethora of articles on all sorts of topics aimed to help ease the housing process for you. You can also contact the Rambler leasing team, who are more than happy to answer any of your questions!

Ellen | Rambler Marketing Intern


Ellen is a Marketing Intern for Rambler. She is a junior at the University of Texas, majoring in Communications and Leadership, with a minor in Business.

January 22, 2024

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