When to Start Looking For Student Housing Near UT Austin

by Megan Mills

When already juggling your school, work, and personal life, thinking about searching for a place to live at the University of Texas can be overwhelming. On top of that, leasing agents can often put a lot of pressure on you to make a decision right away, which makes the process even more challenging. 

At Waterloo, we’ve helped hundreds of students find off-campus housing and advised many students and parents on when to start the process and sign a lease. 

We know that the housing timeline looks different for everyone, especially in the fast-paced West Campus market. So we’re here to help you discover what timeline works best for you.

Today we’re going to walk you through all the information you need to set a timeline for your student housing search. 

The lawn in front of the UT tower is frequented by many students studying, relaxing, or catching up with friends.

In this article we will discuss:

Typical Leasing Timeline for Undergraduates at UT Austin

While the timeline for leasing an apartment at UT Austin varies, most students lease for the next school year anytime from August to December of the school year prior. 

That means as an incoming freshman, you will generally sign a lease for your sophomore year within a few months of starting school in the fall of your freshman year. 

Most off-campus apartments near UT Austin begin leasing in spring/summer of the year prior to the next leasing season. That means leasing for the 2022-2023 school year generally begins in the spring of 2021. So, around April of the year prior is typically the earliest you can sign a lease. 

Often you will find that upperclassmen, including rising juniors and seniors, will sign even earlier than the typical August to December timeline – even as early as April the year prior. (Yes, that means that people will sign a lease sophomore year for their senior year!) 

This is because they’ve experienced the craziness of the leasing season and want to take advantage of the best rates and best-located units. 

In order to understand why students lease so early, it’s important to understand the pricing system and how it works. This is what we will cover next. 

Exterior shot of Moontower Austin, a purpose-built, luxury student housing apartment complex.

When you sign determines how much you pay

Essentially, every building leases apartments based on a similar pricing system. When leasing, apartment buildings divide their individual apartments into tiers, with different pricing rates at each tier. Here at Waterloo, we lease out apartments in four tiers with 25 apartments in each tier.

The first tier is the first leased and is leased at the lowest rate. After all of the spots fill up in the first tier, spots in the second tier will then be leased at a higher price. This pattern will repeat until the entire building is fully leased.

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

While this often means that leasing your apartment ASAP leads to the best possible price, there is one caveat. If you happen to drop the ball and lease at the last moment (say May through August immediately prior to move-in), you might actually receive a first-tier deal.

This is because, on the farther end of the leasing timeline, buildings are racing to fill their un-leased apartments. In order to fill these apartments, they will often offer deals and discounts until all rooms are filled (in order to avoid vacancies). As we all understand, collecting some rent is better than no rent!

Keeping in mind that apartments left un-leased until summer might not be leased for a reason, it’s true that the best deals on housing come at the earliest and latest ends of the leasing timeline.  

Living room of Moontower Austin, a purpose-built, luxury student housing apartment complex, with a great view of the UT tower.

Benefits of leasing early 

At this point in the article you might now be thinking: is leasing early really worth all this hype? Seeing as you can barely stand in West Campus without running into an apartment building, the demand to lease so early must be a charade. Right?

Yes and no. The real answer to this question lies in between what you want and what you need. 

The truth is, you really can lease an apartment at the last possible moment – the only deadline is when you need somewhere to live. There is plenty of housing around UT to go around.

However, the real question is, do you want that housing? Do you want a room without windows? The apartment building with notoriously bad maintenance? Do you want to live nowhere near campus or far from your friends?

My guess is no. Especially when you realize you can get just as great of a deal on a far better apartment. This is when the early leasing hype becomes real.

As we have now somewhat elaborated upon, there are many benefits to starting early when it comes to looking for an apartment, including:  

  • More competitive pricing options
  • Better choices in floorplans
  • More choices in apartment buildings
  • Nicer amenities 
  • Roommate flexibility

It is a tradition for UT students to take graduation and first-day-of-school photos in front of the Littlefield Fountain.

So, when should I start looking?

Depending on what you have now decided about when you want to sign your lease, you should probably give yourself a month or so before that date to start looking.

Therefore, if you’re aiming for the early side of the leasing timeline (around August of the year prior), you will probably want to start talking to potential roommates in June or July. 

However, even if you fall on the late end of the leasing timeline, you definitely want to give yourself at least a month to explore apartments and roommate options.

Read next: Top 5 Apartments in West Campus near the University of Texas at Austin

The apartment hunting process can take time, so it’s always a good idea to get started early if you want to maximize your options. We hope that this list helps you get started in exploring West Campus apartments.