8 Steps to Finding the Perfect Apartment Near the University of Texas at Austin

by Megan Mills

Are you feeling overwhelmed while looking for a student housing apartment at UT? Not sure where to start or what options to consider? This article is for you. 

At Waterloo, we help hundreds of students explore their housing options at UT Austin, so we understand how stressful the process can be.

For this reason, we have created a step-by-step guide to help you understand what the process looks like, and what order to tackle it in, so that finding an apartment goes smoothly and leads you to find the perfect apartment for your needs.

8 Steps to Finding the Perfect Apartment Near UT Austin

Step 1: Narrow Down a Location

Now that you’ve decided it’s time to start looking for an apartment, the first thing to do is to choose a location. The neighborhood in which you reside will have a huge impact on your daily lifestyle – explore your options and find what best suits you.

Let’s explore the most popular neighborhoods for UT Austin students. 

Map of neighborhoods near the University of Texas at Austin. Photo courtesy of Paid2Rent.com.

West Campus

Location: Area bound by Guadalupe, MLK to 29th St, and Lamar

Do you want to be in the heart of the social scene and steps away from campus? If so, it is best to explore the West Campus neighborhood.

In West Campus, you will find a plethora of newer developments specifically crafted for students. Within these apartment options, you generally can find bigger amenities packages and fully furnished units with updated appliances. 

Not bringing your car to school? No worries, West Campus provides easy access to campus, restaurants and more. 

Need a roommate? Many apartments in West Campus conveniently provide roommate matching to find your perfect match.

North Campus

Location: North of 29th St, from 35th St to Lamar

Are you an upperclassman, graduate student, or prefer peace and quiet over a social scene? If this describes you, then North Campus is a great option to consider.

North Campus is a quieter option that caters towards students who enjoy living on their own or with one other roommate. Apartments located in North Campus are generally older developments with limited amenities, making them budget-friendly. 

If you have a car or don’t mind riding the bus, apartments in North Campus may be for you.

Riverside

Location: South of the River, East of I-35, bound by E Oltorf St and S Pleasant Valley Rd

Do you want to be away from the busy campus atmosphere, and don’t mind a commute? If so, check out properties in the Riverside neighborhood. 

Apartments in Riverside consist of older properties with older amenities but provide friendly pricing. If you’re on a budget, this neighborhood is definitely worth your attention.

While the amenities are not as new at most Riverside properties, the neighborhood provides an urban feel without the West Campus prices.

Step 2: Consider a Roommate

After you have chosen a location, it’s time to determine if you want a roommate or roommates. If you do, who will they be?

We have provided a list of pros and cons to having a roommate if you’re feeling unsure:

Pros 

  • Cheaper – Having a roommate will allow prices to be divided amongst yourselves and lessen the pressure of expenses.
  • Social – Always having a buddy or buddies to explore Austin will ensure good times and memories are made.
  • Comfort – Is this your first time living away from home or do you enjoy being around others? Roommates are a great option to keep you company and adjust to a new setting.

Cons

  • Less Focus – Having roommates can be fun and games but when it comes time to focus on your studies you may find them at times to be a distraction.
  • Less Privacy – If you are someone who enjoys being alone and prioritizing your privacy, living on your own may be your best option.

If you have decided that you want a roommate but you don’t have someone in mind, you’re in luck. Many of the apartment complexes located near UT Austin offer roommate matching. Through a quick survey provided by student housing complexes, the apartment you choose can easily find your perfect roommate match.

Step 3: Determine What Amenities are Important to You

Once you’ve established a location and your roommates, it’s time to make a decision about your non-negotiables within your apartment. What amenities are most important to you?

Consider these two lists below, detailing in-unit amenities and community amenities:

In-Unit Amenities

  • Fully furnished
  • Washer and dryer in-unit
  • Attached bath
  • Walk-in closet
  • High-speed internet 
  • Cable TV

Community Amenities

  • Pool
  • Fitness center
  • Coffee bar
  • Sauna
  • Yoga studio
  • Study rooms
  • Spin
  • On-site staff
  • Packaged lockers

Write down a list of amenities that you absolutely must have, as well as those that you don’t need but would like. This list will be helpful to reference in the future when selecting and narrowing down which apartments to tour. 

Step 4: Set a Budget

Next, it is important to set a budget and establish how much you are willing to spend on your apartment. There are a number of fees and costs that can influence the end price of your unit. These may include:

  • Leasing by the bed – This means that you will sign an individual lease for your portion of the apartment. No more worrying about if your roommates pay on time or not.
  • Leasing by the unit – This is a standard lease agreement with all roommates, equally liable for all payments.
  • Parking – Most apartments offer parking options, but usually at an additional cost.
  • Utilities – Many apartments will charge an additional utility fee.
  • Pet rent/deposit – If you have a pet, many apartments will charge you an extra fee. This can be a one-time deposit, an additional monthly fee, or both.
  • Renter’s insurance – Some apartments offer renter’s insurance, but others do not. Apartments that do offer renter’s insurance typically charge an additional fee.

After considering these factors, you can set a price range that works for your living needs.

Looking for additional pricing info? Read our article, How Much Does it Cost to Live in West Campus Near UT Austin?, to learn more about factors that will affect the total cost of living near the University of Texas at Austin.

Step 5: Make a Short List of Places to Tour

After you have decided on a price range, search online to find places that meet your budget, amenities wish list, and desired location. Call to book a tour or book online with each complex that piques your interest. Explore your options, and don’t settle if they don’t meet your desired criteria. 

Step 6: Take Tours

After determining which apartments meet your living needs, it is time to tour your potential new home! This is a big decision, but don’t worry, you will use the information you have already gathered and put it to use.

Here are some things to keep in mind when touring an apartment complex:

  • Floor Plan – Make sure the apartment you pick has the proper amount of space for you and your roommates to comfortably live in. If you are generally social and enjoy being out of your home, then a smaller floor plan may be suitable. However, if you’re a homebody, then a larger floor plan could be beneficial in the long run.
  • Beds and Baths – Is it important for every roommate to have their own bedroom and own bathroom? If so, is there a desire for an attached bath? Keep an eye out for these features on your tour.
  • Windows – Keep an eye out for natural lighting and window size in each unit if this is something you enjoy in your home.
  • Views – Depending on location, many apartments near UT campus offer a wide variety of views within each unit! Ask your tour guide about your options if this is part of your wishlist and you don’t mind spending an extra dollar for it.
  • Utilities – Some apartment complexes will charge additional fees for internet, cable, trash, electric, water, sewage, gas, etc. Take note of what is/is not included in your monthly rent. Additionally, ask yourself, do you want an in-house washer and dryer? High-speed internet included? These are just a couple of the many utilities to consider.

Step 7: Apply

You have now found an apartment that you’re really interested in – now what?

It’s time to apply!

Filling out an application is generally a 15-20 minute process. For the majority of properties, you can expect to fill these forms out online. To apply, you will need to answer basic information about yourself, including a roommate questionnaire. That way, if you’re looking to be matched, the leasing office can start your search. 

To complete your application, you will have to pay an application fee. These fees usually range from $50 to $100 and cover the cost of the apartment to run a background check. Once your application gets approved, it’s time to sign your lease!

Step 8: Sign your Lease

Last but not least, it is time to sign your lease! 

The lease is usually around 40 pages, and it is important to read every page thoroughly so you understand what you’re going to be held accountable for. Remember, this is a legally binding contract, so it is important to know what you’re getting into. Pay attention to all important dates and fees, and be sure to take note of when to pay rent, when to give your move-out notice, etc.

It is also important to know the specific terms of your lease. Leases are generally 12 months, but make sure to ask before you sign! Shorter leases are available at some properties but are often priced higher per month than 12-month leases for the same space.

If you are a full-time student who does not work, or only works part-time, you will likely need a guarantor. In fact, most Austin landlords do not accept tenants who are undergraduate students unless those tenants have a guarantor. A guarantor co-signs the lease and is responsible for any rent payments that you cannot or do not make. 

Both you and your guarantor should gather your bank account statements, pay stubs, and Social Security numbers for the landlord to run a credit check. 

When you break it down into steps, finding an apartment can be a straightforward process. If you get stuck or need help, feel free to reach out to the Waterloo leasing team who is happy to answer any questions you might have about your search for housing. 

Before you know it, you will be done with your application and living in your own apartment near UT Austin!