UC Housing — Advice for freshmen

Most students agree that there may be no such thing as the “best housing” on any UC campus. But some choices are certainly better than others. After visiting each campus, interviewing current students and pouring over hundreds of online student comments and reviews I present here the most current, consolidated information about UC campus housing as described by current undergraduate students.

Students describe below the experience of different types of housing and how each housing type may be suited to different personalities.

  • Classic residence halls seem to be perfect for students hoping to meet lots of people quickly and are viewed by all students as the most social. Super social, super fun and super cheap!
  • Suites can be quiet and perfect for students who may not like the constant commotion of the heavily populated classic dorms.
  • Some housing attracts 2nd and 3rd year students. (as freshmen you’ll want to avoid these if you can)
  • Guaranteed housing varies from campus to campus; some guarantee more than others. Berkeley seems to be the least generous and UCLA the most.

Berkeley Housing Map

UC Berkeley Housing Map

Berkeley student housing is spread to all corners and most freshmen housing isn’t even really on campus. With a continuous housing crisis, and expensive off campus housing prices, students say finding housing while at Berkeley can be a full time job. Freshmen DO NOT miss the housing deadline because there is a waitlist for housing; see Berkeley’s response to a student question below. They show NO mercy!

Q “Do I have to put “any room size, any location” as my fifth preference?”

A  “We recommend that you include “any room size, any location” as your fifth housing preference for the best chance of receiving a housing offer.”

If you do not mark “any room size, any location” as one of your preferences, you may not receive a housing assignment. This may happen if you have a high lottery number and we are unable to offer you one of your housing preferences due to a lack of space in your preferred locations.

If your preferences are not available when your lottery number is reached, we will not make you an offer at that time. Your name will remain on the waiting list for future contract offerings, but, you will no longer be guaranteed a housing offer.”

Classic Residence Halls (Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3, Foothill, Bowles, Stern, Clark Kerr)

  • Unit 1, Unit 2 and Unit 3 – *Editors Choice for freshmen based on student reviews. These are freshmen favorites, who say the Units are Coed and conveniently located close to class and off campus dining.
  • Foothill, Bowles (Guys only) and Stern (Girls only) Close to Engineering and Memorial Stadium (Football games) but these are a long way from off campus dining and most activities. Bowles and Stern are single sex only.
  • Clark Kerr is referred to by students as “athletic housing” and is furthest from campus, but close to frat row. Students say the food is exceptional at Clark Kerr and the rooms are larger than classic residence halls.

UCLA Housing Map

UCLA Housing Map

UCLA generously offers freshmen three years of guaranteed on campus housing! UCLA does not have a housing shortage and even has changing your roommate down to a science. Once each month they have a room swap gathering for those who would like a change.

Plus, all housing for freshmen is located in one common area known fondly as “The Hill”. The hike to class and back each day is ironically uphill both ways, but at least with all of the housing together, your new friends will be guaranteed to live just minutes from you and you can hike to class each day together!

  • Classic residence halls (Heddrick & Reiber) *Editors Choice based on student reviews. Heddrick and Reiber offer the quickest way to meet lots of people, with each floor having 80 rooms and common bathrooms, you’ll know hundreds of students within days. The floors are all mixed gender too so you have boys and girls living together on each floor, although in different rooms. Common bathrooms are separated by gender. The reason the classic residence halls are the most social is all of students in the beginning of each year prop their doors open and it’s a bustle of meeting and greeting activity on each floor. The common bathrooms also provide additional time to cross paths getting to know each other.
  • Deluxe Residence Halls (Dykstra & Sproul) have larger rooms but are mostly populated by second and third year students. Very nice rooms but not as social for first year students.
  • Suites (Hitch and Saxon) typically have two bedrooms with a shared bath and living room. The rooms are each doubles. The students say the suites are less social and can be hit or miss depending on your suitemates because you are pretty isolated from other students. With each unit having it’s own private entrance from the outside & private bath, interaction with other students is minimal. Suites are perfect for quiet students who like to keep to themselves. These are more like apartments and popular with graduate students (and parents!) (Students don’t let your parents banish you to the suites because they think the bathrooms are more sanitary lol)
  • Plazas (De Neve Plaza, Hedrick Summit, Rieber Terrace, Rieber Vista and Sunset Village) Plazas are set up as a series of suites, some suites have as many as 10 students in shared accommodations. The suites are nice and have private bathrooms that are shared among your smaller group of suitemates. Keeping in mind that the huge common bathrooms in classic residence halls are where you meet many people, you will not meet as many people as a freshmen in a Plaza.

Davis Housing Map



Residence Halls – UC Davis offer freshmen guaranteed housing on campus for two years.

  • Segundo*Editors Choice for freshmen based on student reviews.
  • Segundo is Close to some shopping & restaurants, close to the dining hall, close to the ARC. I highlighted it in Pink on the map.
  • Tercero – Some buildings are a bit too close to the dairy cows and have a slight cow odor if the wind blows toward the dorms. Tercero has many different structures; the further you are from Dairy Lane the sweeter the smell. I highlighted it in blue and added the cow to make note of the dairy barn location. (cow odor)
  • Cuarto – Off campus & further from class, across a busy street, but hey, it does have a pool!

UCSB Housing Map

UCSB Housing Map

Students lucky enough to attend UCSB…you  NEVER live this close to the beach again! If you do, you will be paying a whole lot more than while you attend UCSB.

All freshmen dorms 1, 3, 4, 8 & 7  are located along the coast just steps to the beach.

(2) Manzanita Village – mostly upperclassmen

(5) San Rafael – Upper classman & Transfer students


UCSD Housing Map

UCSD housing in part is determined by your college selection. They guarantee housing for two years on campus if you meet all required deadlines. JOHN MUIR COLLEGE seems to be the top choice based on location, close to the beach and classes. But no matter where you end up on this campus, you’ll still be living in lovely la Jolla:-)

Muir    Revelle    Marshall   Warren Roosevelt   Sixth

Santa Cruz Housing Map

UCSC Housing

Still in progress please check back soon…