Hey future USF Bulls! We're so excited you picked The University of South Florida for your college experience. You have a lot of decisions to make in the coming months. What will your major be? Should you get a part-time student job? Should you room with that kid you sort of knew in high school? And, perhaps most importantly, should you live in USF housing on-campus or opt for student housing options off campus? We're the experts on the latter, so we've put together this guide to help you through the process of finding USF housing that will set you up to crush college.
On Campus vs. Off Campus USF Housing
Choosing USF housing on campus is easy. The dormitories and apartments on-campus are generally close to classes, rents are all-inclusive, and you're never far from dining options on USF campus. These conveniences certainly come with disadvantages. On campus USF housing can be more expensive than off campus housing options, some students feel that they have less freedom in dormitories, and (here's the big one) USF on campus housing is limited, The University of South Florida just can't fit every student on campus.
We suggest you ask around to current students at USF to get their stories and advice about living in on campus housing. Many people recommend living on campus your first year at The University of South Florida so you can meet as many friends as possible and be totally immersed in the college experience. Others might say that off-campus apartments with roommate matching provide a similar socialization experience while allowing for more freedom.
Many factors play into choosing USF housing including location, transportation, lease types, and budget. Make your way through this article to help you decide on each factor and you'll be a USF housing hunting pro!
Location Relative to USF Campus
When choosing your future off campus housing location, you'll want to consider proximity to parts of campus you will frequent for classes, studying, or extracurricular activities. If you're new to USF, we suggest using the Marshall Student Union to measure how close USF housing is to the heart of campus. Freshman year, you might find that your classes are spread out across USF campus since your courses will not be specialized yet. As you approach Junior and Senior year, your classes will likely be centered around one location or in a particular specialty building, so you'll want to look for an apartment that gives you easy access to that area of the University of South Florida via your preferred method of transportation.
Transportation from USF Housing to Campus
The University of South Florida campus is easily accessible by car, but students will need to obtain a parking pass and may find that parking close to class a challenge. There are many USF housing options a 15-minute walk or 7 minute bike ride to USF campus depending on where your classes are located. There are plenty of crosswalks, street lights, and sidewalks along Fowler Ave., Fletcher Ave., Bruce B. Downs, Bearss, and 56th Street – the main roads surrounding USF campus. Consider Tampa's weather when you're deciding how you plan to commute to campus. Florida summers are long (it feel like they last from March-November), temperatures can average 90 during true summer months, and afternoon showers happen nearly daily from June-September.
The Bull Runner Shuttle is a student favorite for commuting from off campus housing to USF campus. The shuttle is exclusive for those who work or study at the University of South Florida campus and is free for USF students – just be prepared to show your student ID! Many of the off campus apartments near USF have pick-up stops right out front, and you can see a custom list of apartments along the shuttle route by visiting our page for apartments on the Bull Runner Shuttle Route. It's also important to note that a couple of apartments near campus offer a private shuttle that is managed by the apartment community, so be sure to look out for these options as well. Most notably, Boardwalk at Morris Bridge offers a free shuttle to campus that is exclusive for their residents.
USF Housing Lease Types
Near the University of South Florida you'll find 2 types of housing: apartments that are leased by-the-bedroom (individual leases) and apartments that are leased by the entire apartment (joint leases). There are benefits and drawbacks to each! Apartments that are leased by-the-bedroom are typically all-inclusive with things like furniture, high-speed internet, cable, water, and electricity bundled into 1 easy monthly payment. If you do not have roommates in mind, an individual lease is likely best for you. Most individually leased apartments offer roommate matching, and you won't have to worry about your roommate being reliable when it comes to paying the bills since you'll only ever be responsible for the rent for your particular bedroom. The only downside to individual leasing is that you may find the monthly rates are slightly higher than joint leased apartments.
If you choose to live in joint leased apartments, you and your roommates will be mutually responsible for the monthly rent and everyone's name will be on the same lease. In this type of USF housing, you will be responsible for finding your own roommates (make sure you choose someone you can trust!) and the monthly rent will not be all-inclusive. It will be up to you and your roommates to split the cable, internet, electricity, and water bill each month. This can be beneficial if you and you roommates wish to save money and use Netflix instead of cable but can be a challenge when it's time to pay the electricity bill and your roommate is short on cash.
Budgeting for USF Housing
Setting a budget for college housing can be a daunting task. The biggest mistake students make when budgeting for USF housing is not understanding exactly what is included in the monthly rent. For example, you might find an apartment under $600 that includes cable and internet but then realize you'll have to pay electricity and water separately each month. Or, you might find an apartment that is under $700 per month that is completely all-inclusive with electricity, water, cable, and internet included. In the long run, each of these apartments will cost you roughly the same amount, so you should pick whichever one best fits your lifestyle!
You'll also need to keep your eye out for extras that may increase your rent bill each month. For example, many off campus USF housing properties offer furniture included with the rent, but at others you may need to plan separately for a furniture rental expense. Additionally, if you plan to live in a pet friendly apartment near USF, you will want to budget for a pet deposit and monthly pet rent. A final item to consider is parking. Particularly if the apartment you choose has a parking garage, the property may charge a monthly parking fee. The apartments near campus will be transparent with you about any fees or extras, just make sure that you're asking the right questions!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find roommates to share an off-campus USF apartment?
If you have a group of friends that are interested in living with you, be sure to tell the community you choose that you want to live together. They can work with you and your friends to get your lease(s) set up in the same apartment. Don't have a roommate in mind? No need to stress -- there are quite a few student communities near campus that offer roommate matching. Their team will give you a questionnaire to fill out and match you with a roommate with a similar lifestyle and interests.
Does my off-campus USF apartment come furnished?
There are a lot of student apartments near campus that offer fully furnished apartments. You can expect to find a bed, nightstand, dresser and desk with a chair in most bedrooms. Most common areas include a small dining table and chairs or bar stools at the breakfast bar and a couch, coffee table, and end table. Some apartments even include TVs. Be sure to ask the leasing team about their furniture package as each community can vary slightly.
Are utilities included in the monthly rent of my off-campus apartment?
Some apartments near USF may bundle a portion or all of your utilities in your monthly rent. Utilities that may be included in your rent are electricity, water, sewer, and trash collection. There are even some all-inclusive apartments that include high-speed internet and cable. It's a good idea to call the leasing team to ask what is included in your monthly rent so you can budget accordingly.