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When to Start Looking for Housing as a UT Austin Student

By Madison

The thought of looking for housing as a student at the University of Texas at Austin can be overwhelming. Between school, work and personal life, finding time to search for housing can fall to the bottom of the list.

At Rambler, we’ve helped hundreds of UT Austin students find purpose-built student housing, and have advised many students and parents on when to begin the process of signing a lease. 

@rambleratx When is the best time to start looking for housing in West Campus?… ASAP! #ut #utaustin #apartment #college #collegeliving #hookem #austin #westcampus #ut25 #ut26 ♬ She Share Story (for Vlog) – 山口夕依

The housing timeline can look different for everyone, especially in the fast-paced Austin market. In this article, we will walk you through all the information needed to help you determine which timeline is best for you.

Rambler ATX lobby

The Rambler lobby offers a welcoming environment for studying, unwinding and socializing with friends.

We will cover:

When Should I Start Looking for Student Housing near UT Austin?

What is the typical student housing timeline in West Campus Austin?

While the timeline for leasing an apartment at UT Austin is hugely dependent on the individual doing the search, most students lease for the next school year during the fall of the year prior. 

For example, if you are an incoming freshman at UT Austin, you will most likely sign a lease for your sophomore year within a few months of starting school in the fall of your freshman year.

Most new, off-campus apartments in West Campus begin leasing in the spring/summer of the year prior to the next leasing season. Therefore, leasing for 2023-2024 typically begins in the spring of 2022. April of the year prior is generally the earliest you can sign a lease. November or December of the year prior is when many unit types will begin to sell out, especially at new developments with high demand.

You will often find that rising upperclassmen will sign even earlier than the typical Fall semester time period. Some will sign as early as April of the year prior to assure that they will get a prime spot. That means that sophomores are signing a lease in their Spring semester for the housing that they will occupy during their senior year!

This may sound extreme, but this is because upperclassmen have experienced the craziness of the fall leasing season. By signing in the spring, students are able to take advantage of the best rates and best-located units. 

To best understand why students sign leases so early, it’s important to understand the pricing system and how it works. Next, we will cover the benefits of leasing early and explain why the time at which you sign a lease determines how much you will pay each month.

Exterior rendering of student housing apartment, Moontower, in West Campus Austin.

Exterior rendering of Moontower, another student housing apartment in West Campus near UT.

Can signing earlier save me money?

In West Campus, most purpose-built student housing apartments lease their units on a similar pricing system. 

Apartment complexes will often divide their individual bed spaces into tiers, with different pricing rates at each tier. The first leases will be signed with first-tier rates. These are the lowest priced. After the first-tier spots fill up, spots in the second-tier will then be leased at a slightly higher price. This pattern will repeat until the entire building is fully leased.

As each tier is leased, the price of monthly rent per bed will typically increase from around $15 to $20. However, pricing per bed can increase as much as one hundred dollars in between tiers at certain properties.

Considering the tier system, signing a lease for your apartment as soon as you can typically lead to the best possible price. However, there is a caveat. 

If you happen to lease at the very last moment (think May through August immediately prior to move-in) then you may actually receive a first-tier level deal.

This is because buildings are racing to fill their un-leased apartments immediately prior to move-in. To fill these final vacancies, they will often offer deals and discounts until all rooms are filled so that they won’t have any bed spaces go un-leased. After all, collecting some rent is better than collecting no rent.

But remember, your options at this point will be much more limited. Those who lease early will have their pick of options, while those who lease at the last minute will be left to choose from the few apartments that remain. 

One other exception to note is that, sometimes, apartment complexes with a small bed count (think less than 100 units or less than 500 beds) or a lot of different types of floor plans may opt to skip the tier system. In this case, all units of the same type would be leased at the same rate aside from premiums. Premiums could include windows, extra square footage, etc. but vary by the apartment complex, so be sure to ask before you sign a lease!

With all of this in mind, the best deals on student housing near UT Austin typically come either very early or very late in the leasing timeline.

Rambler Austin study rooms

In our study mezzanine, you’ll find plenty of unique spaces for quiet study or collaboration.

Should I Lease Early? 

Now, at this point you might be thinking: is early leasing truly worth all the hype? West Campus is filled with apartment buildings… is the demand to lease so early actually real?

When you sign early, you have the most options at the best price point. However, we understand that you may not be ready to sign as early as 18 months in advance. Maybe you’re not sure who you want to live with, or maybe you’re considering studying abroad. Whatever the reason, we recommend that once you are ready, sign as soon as you can.

Ultimately, you can lease an apartment at the last possible moment. The only real deadline is the day of move-in, and there is plenty of housing near UT to go around. However, the most important question is, do you want to live in the housing that remains come August? 

The spots remaining in August are the rooms that people didn’t want to lease, and there is a reason for this. These rooms are typically the least desirable. The bedroom may not have windows, or the unit may be in an undesirable location within the building.

When you can sign a lease that is just as great a price on a better apartment, people are inclined to sign early. Thus, the early leasing hype is born.

Overall, there are various benefits to signing a lease early at a student housing apartment near UT Austin, including: 

  • Competitive pricing options
  • Better floorplan choice
  • Greater choice of apartment complex
  • Newer, nicer amenities 
  • Greater flexibility in roommate choice

Read Next: 5 Benefits to Signing Your Lease Early in West Campus 

Interior image of Rambler's living room furniture and finishes

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

At this point, you’ve likely decided around what time you may want to sign your lease.

We recommend giving yourself around one month before the date you have in mind to start your search. If you’re aiming for the early side of the leasing timeline (around August of the year prior), you will want to start talking to potential roommates in June or July and start touring as soon as you have an idea of what you all want in an apartment.

Even if you fall on the late end of the leasing timeline, you will want at least one month to explore your options.

Finding the perfect apartment for your lifestyle can take time. It’s always best to get an early start so that you can maximize your options. 

We hope that this article helps you get started in exploring West Campus apartments. For more information on Rambler, visit our amenities and floorplan pages, or contact our leasing staff, who are more than happy to answer any questions you may have about housing.

Madison Rosenow, Rambler Leasing Manger


Madison is the Leasing Manager for Rambler. She went to Texas A&M University and has 5+ years of experience in student housing leasing. In the office, you'll find her enjoying a vanilla latte from Daydreamer!

June 08, 2022

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