Graduate Student Housing Resources
Housing for Graduate Students at Webster University
Off Campus Options
All freshmen enrolled at the St. Louis main campus are required to live on campus for their first two years at Webster University. Exceptions to this requirement are granted for freshmen living with their parents within a 35-mile radius of the main campus in Webster Groves. International transfer students are also required to live on campus for their first year enrolled in classes at the main campus. After that, many students decide to move off campus into apartments.
For graduate students, it is your responsibility to make off campus housing arrangements either before or after you arrive in Webster Groves. Contact any apartments you are interested in well in advance. Find out if they have vacant units available, fit within your price range and distance from campus.
Use the Transportation website at http://blogs.webster.edu/mcisa/resources/transportation-assistance/ to view maps/directions using public transportation to and from campus to area apartments.
Go to the Commuter Council website at: http://www.webster.edu/commuters/ for more information about off campus living.
Start by reviewing the Off-Campus Apartment List in the local area (click on the link to download a PDF version for easier viewing). There are two lists – apartments near Webster Groves (main campus) and near Gateway campus (Downtown St. Louis at the Arcade building). Please note: Webster University provides this brief list of area apartments for your reference only. While we do our best to keep information updated, pricing and availability may change. Therefore, we cannot guarantee accuracy of the information provided. Please contact the leasing office directly if you are interested in current pricing and availability.
For more information, please contact our Community Outreach and Housing Assistant at 314-246-4742 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check the Off Campus Apartments list for access to the St. Louis area public transportation Metro system (bus and train service) using the links within the document (above). The 56 Bus runs along Lockwood Avenue in front of Webster Hall (our main administrative building) and connects with the Shrewsbury Metro Station where you can connect to train service. Use google transit to map your route.
Keep in mind that St. Louis is a very large and spread-out metropolitan area.
Search for the 63119 zip code to locate apartments closest to the Webster Groves campus.
If you will take classes primarily at the Arcade Campus (Downtown) or at the Westport Plaza Campus, consider searching for apartments closer to those locations. There are a few properties near the Arcade Campus to consider.
You can also search for apartments and rooms to rent with Padmapper.
Live – Downtown St. Louis Apartment database: loft apartments within a few blocks of the Arcade campus are Syndicate Lofts, Bell Lofts, Dorsal Lofts, and Ludwig Lofts.
Consult your academic advisor if you are unsure which St. Louis area campus location you will most frequently attend for your classes.
Free Metro UPass
Currently enrolled students are eligible for a free Metro UPass (for bus and train service in St. Louis). Once on campus, you need to have your Student ID card issued and validated at the Office of Public Safety (bring a current photo ID and your student schedule to get an ID issued) after you enroll for classes. With your ID card, you visit the Business Office in Webster Hall to request your Metro UPass. http://blogs.webster.edu/webstertoday/2014/06/12/upass-extended-bursar/
Some students choose to stay in a local hotel for a few days after arrival to settle in and tour around the area to personally look at apartments. If you need some advice on local hotels you can find more information at http://blogs.webster.edu/mcisa/localresourceguide/
Online Apartment Search
The following websites are common online search engines used in many large metropolitan areas in the United States. These are provided for reference only. Not all apartment agencies and locations participate in these databases, so keep in mind that these websites can give you some information to begin your search.
Cultural Clubs on Campus
Consider reaching out to our cultural clubs on campus through the Involved@Webster portal or through club Facebook pages to ask for advice on local housing options and to seek roommates. Do not hesitate to contact any friends of nationals from your country who are here already. Students can also ask about roommates in their departments.
International Student Association Facebook https://www.facebook.com/InternationalStudentAssociationWebsterUniversity?ref=hl
Roommates/Housing/Swap and Sell Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/205088626513896/
Due to the FERPA federal privacy law, we are unable to give out the names and contact information of students from particular countries on campus. If you would like for us to share your name and contact information with others from your home country, please contact the MCISA department directly at email@example.com.
Real Estate Agencies
These agencies list houses which are vacant. They may charge a fee for their services. Real estate agents are listed in the “Yellow Pages” of the telephone book under the section entitled “Real Estate.” An alternative method to find a place to live is to walk along the streets near campus to look for “For Rent” signs posted outside of houses. These sources should yield some housing options for new international students’ families and visitors.
You can learn about off campus housing vacancies in the “classified advertising” sections in the back of the city newspaper, the St. Louis Post Dispatch. The following abbreviations are used in classified advertisements. If you do not understand what an advertisement means, you should ask the landlord to explain it. “BR” means bedroom; “bath” means bathroom; “A/C” means air conditioning; “furn” means furnished; “unfurn” means unfurnished.
Types of Dwellings
Furnished vs. Unfurnished Dwellings
Living areas are available both with and without furniture, and new students and faculty must decide which choice they prefer. Dwellings with furniture usually cost more. Items that may be in furnished apartments include a bed, bureau, desk, table, and chairs. You are expected to purchase your own linens and utensils. Unfurnished dwellings do not include furniture, although the apartments will contain a stove, refrigerator, kitchen cabinets, and perhaps a dishwasher. These accommodations are usually less expensive. You then purchase any furniture that you may need, move it into the apartment, and when you leave, you can sell it. It is also possible to rent furniture on a monthly basis from furniture leasing companies. Look in the “Yellow Pages” of the phone book under the category “Furniture Renting and Leasing.” Click here for more information on Local Furniture Rentals. You may also consider purchasing used furniture from local thrift stores. Options include Goodwill Industries, Savers, St. Vincent De Paul, Miriam Switching Post and others.
A room may be located in a rooming house or in a private home. Some rooms may be “suites” in an apartment complex where the student lives in one room and shares a bathroom, kitchen, and living room with occupants of three or four other rooms in the suite. “Kitchen privileges,” or access to a kitchen and utensils may or may not be included in the cost of renting a room in a house. Students interested in renting a room should ask whether the room is furnished, whether the rent includes kitchen privileges, and the normal monthly cost of utilities. Contact the MCISA at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on local individuals seeking to rent a room in their homes to international students. Availability, prices, amenities and proximity to campus vary for local room rentals.
Also called “studio apartments,” efficiencies” are usually one large room which includes a kitchen area and bathroom. They are designed for one person or perhaps two people. Most efficiencies are furnished. The occupant is expected to pay for electricity and water. Efficiency apartments are sometimes found in houses.
The wider St. Louis area and Webster Groves in particular has hundreds of apartment houses. Apartments consist of a living room, kitchen, bedrooms, and one or more bathrooms. Apartments are larger than efficiencies. Apartments may be furnished or unfurnished; furnished apartments cost more. You pay the utilities, unless other arrangements are specified. A few apartments offer maid service for an extra charge.
Sometimes several students who want to live together choose to live in a house. While a few furnished houses are available, most rental houses are equipped only with stoves, refrigerators, and kitchen cabinets. The landlord is responsible for making repairs and caring for the yard unless the lease specifies otherwise. The occupant or “tenant” is responsible for keeping the house clean and paying for water, electricity, heating, and pest control bills unless other arrangements have been made with the landlord.
What To Keep In Mind When Looking For Accommodations
You are not obligated to rent an apartment if you look at it!
When looking for accommodations, the prospective tenant should remember that he/she is a customer searching for the right choice for him/her. If you are not satisfied with one dwelling and want to look at others, this is perfectly acceptable. You may tell the landlord that you wish to look around more. You should not feel pressured to accept a dwelling that you do not like. You should always inspect the apartment that you will rent before signing the lease. Get everything in writing before you sign a lease! All expenses of repair, painting, etc. should be written into the lease agreement before you sign it.
When looking for apartments, consider the following:
- Length of the lease: When can you move in and out? Many apartments only offer 12 month leases or charge a higher monthly fee for shorter leases.
- Your monthly budget: What can you afford? Does your budget include rent, utilities, transportation costs, etc.? Living alone is usually more expensive than having roommates. Deposits alone can be $1,000 or more. If you do not have a social security number for a background check, you may be required to pay a higher security deposit.
- Distance from school and transportation: How will you get to campus?
- Safety: Is this neighborhood safe?
- If you will have roommates: How many rooms will you need?
- Rental prices vary widely in St. Louis (approximately $300-$450 per month for shared housing).
- Apartments within walking distance of campus are typically more difficult to acquire and may be more expensive. Off campus housing arrangements require check or cash deposits for rent and utilities, as well as the purchase of some furnishings, linens and cooking utensils.
- Remember that the names of all individuals living together should be on the same lease.
- Begin looking prior to arrival, because orientation week will be very busy and the most desirable apartments or roommate situations will go quickly.
Security Deposits and First and Last Months’ Rent
A landlord will probably ask you for money before you move into an apartment. This may be in the form of a security deposit and first and last months’ rent, and can amount to more than $1,000 dollars. A “security deposit” is an amount of money that is supposed to guarantee that the tenant will care for the dwelling. If the tenant does not care for the property or clean it before leaving, the landlord has a legal right to keep the security deposit. Otherwise, the landlord must return the security deposit within a month after the tenant leaves. You should have the agreement about the security deposit in writing included in the lease. Landlords will often ask for the sum of the first and last months’ rent before the tenant moves into the apartment. This is to protect the landlord in case the tenant leaves early without paying the rent for the agreed upon lease term. Most leases require that once you move in, you are expected to live in the unit for the agreed upon lease term. In many cases, you cannot leave an apartment vacant for long periods of time if you are away. Check your lease for specific requirements. Each landlord has particular requirements for deposits. You should ask the landlord about his particular requirements.
Signing a lease
In most cases, the landlord will require the tenant to sign a lease. A lease is a written agreement between a tenant and a landlord that describes the responsibilities of each party. This is a binding legal document that commits the student to a specific period of residency in the unit. Most landlords in St. Louis want the tenant to sign a one-year lease. This presents a problem if the student leaves for the summer, because you must find someone to assume responsibility for the lease. If you know that you will not be in St. Louis for the entire year, you should not sign a year’s lease. Shorter leases are available, or you can “sublease” from someone who has a present lease.
Unless someone is already living in the dwelling, the new tenant must start utility services, such as telephone, electricity, and gas. The tenant may need to assume the cost of water, garbage and pest control (a service where a company exterminates insects on a monthly basis), and may want to pay for cable television and high speed internet connection. Prospective tenants should ask the landlord about which services the landlord will provide and which services the tenant must arrange. This is important because utilities require deposits that may be expensive.
Duration of the Lease
A prospective tenant should not sign a lease for a time period longer than he/she anticipates needing the housing. Some landlords will agree to leases of 6-, 9-, or 12-month duration with the option of renewing each additional month. The renter should ask whether he/she can “break” the lease (terminate occupancy early) if he/she gives a one or two month notice to the landlord. If not, the renter will be required to pay rent until the end of the period covered by the lease even if he/she moves out and lives elsewhere. Many unpleasant disputes arise between landlords who want to keep their property rented and student renters who, after signing a lease, decide for some reason that they wish to live elsewhere. The lease should specify whether “subleasing” is permitted. “Subleasing” is a lease arrangement whereby another person replaces the initial tenant with responsibility for the lease.
The lease may contain restrictions, such as not permitting animals or children in the dwelling. Ask the landlord about his/her particular requirements. If you do not obey the restrictions on the lease, the landlord can ask you to leave. If you violate the terms of your lease, you will likely lose/forfeit your security deposit/s.
Choosing a Roommate
New students should consider budget, preferences, habits and safety when choosing living arrangements. Many international students choose to live with a roommate (or roommates) because they wish to save on monthly expenses. Because utility costs are part of the monthly expenses, these should be estimated and considered when deciding how much you and your roommate are willing to pay for rent each month. Finding the right roommate can help to make your experience here more pleasant. Here are some considerations when looking for a roommate: Does that person smoke? If you smoke, will this bother the other person? Because some names are used by both men and women, it is important to ask whether that person male or female? Will the roommate have any pets? Is the person quiet? Does he/she study a lot? Does he/she play the stereo loudly? Does he/she invite friends over regularly? Is the person a neat or messy housekeeper? Will you share expenses for food, or will each person buy his/her own food? Will you share expenses for utilities such as telephone, electricity, cable television, and gas? Whose name will be on the contract? Will anyone else be spending the night regularly? Is the person religious? Does the person talk about religion a lot or keep religious beliefs to himself/herself? Is the person independent? Does he/she want to share time and interests, or does he/she prefer to be left alone? These questions are important to ask, as are any other issues that may be important to you. Students may experience pressures during the school year from both academic and personal life. An unpleasant “roommate situation” would increase this pressure. Students may have many social pressures during the year that may be augmented by a bad roommate experience at home. Some students choose a living situation for only one semester until they are more familiar with St. Louis and have made some friends with whom they can live. This is possible, as a few landlords rent apartments for a semester. Ask the MCISA for help if you feel you need extra assistance. While we are happy to assist, we cannot guarantee nor do we provide roommate placements.
Please feel free to stay in touch if you have other questions about your upcoming travels to St. Louis and as you are making your final plans. We are happy to help and look forward to welcoming you to campus!
Many thanks to the University of Florida International Center for use of Housing materials referenced on this site. Some of the information provided here is based on their templates and much of the information has been taken word-for-word from their website at https://www.ufic.ufl.edu/ISS/handbook04.html.