Posted on August 1, 2017
#Chicago  #Housing Guide  #Student Life  

Universities usually have only about 30% accommodation on campus so it is important to consider off campus housing. Here is a detailed guide to all your queries regarding the renting process: 1


Chicago is a beautiful metropolis and is densely populated. There are a lot of cars, and you will have to deal with a lot of traffic. Different Universities have different areas around them. It is really cold 6 months of the year hence pack appropriately!

UIC & IIT- Chicago are in areas which are 6–7 miles south of City Centre along the Michigan lake. These areas are relatively cheap, filled with people restaurants and grocery stores. This area is also quite poor and in general has a lot of crime. Although the days are quite safe. It is generally not advised to be out alone in the night.

Commuting is easy and affordable, there are tons of different options to chose from depending on the area that you reside in. Uber/Lyft are readily available but is an expensive option. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has an elevated train service also known as L; that has six lines running across Chicago. CTA buses are also an option of commute, some of these buses run all night (Owl Service). The buses have a wider connecting range. Metra Suburban Rail runs from downtown in several directions to the suburbs. PACE Suburban Buses run in the suburbs. Walking for long distances is unsafe although a mile or two is alright.

Housing Options

There are various to consider in respect to student accommodation in Chicago (both on-campus and off-campus). Following are some of the most prevalent housing options that are available to students looking for housing:

University Residence Halls: Hostels or Dormitories that are managed by the University. These options are provide expedient access to the amenities rendered by the college on its campus.

Private Student Housing: This kind of accommodation is off campus. Most students share rooms in this scenario. There are many configurations available and the respective terms are as follows: 1b (1 bed), 1b1b (1 bed 1 bath), 2b (2 bed) etc. You can also find studio apartments — These kinds of apartments typically consist of one large room which serves as the living, dining, and bedroom. Kitchen facilities may either be located in the central room, or in a small separate room, and the bathroom is usually in its own smaller room.

Home Stay Accommodation: Under age students who are not eligible to live alone opt for this kind of housing. They stay with a family. These accommodations are in close proximity to the campus grounds.

Generally on-campus accommodations are limited in number and also relatively expensive as compared to off-campus accommodations and also have restrictions in place. Most international students applying for higher studies opt for off-campus accommodation to save extra Rental Costs as this is a major part of the total living expense.

Student housing options with furnishing are usually a little expensive than their unfurnished counterparts. Hence it is suggested that you opt for an unfurnished apartment and rent or free-cycle the furniture as per your needs. Renting furniture costs can go upto $100 to $200 per month. You can rent furniture via these services —, Brook Furniture Rental

Security is an important aspect of choosing an accommodation especially with such a high rate of crime. Some housing societies provide additional security by gating its premises and prohibiting entry to outsiders. Automatic burglar alarms are also an additional feature you can look for safety.

Guidelines to Choose a Roommate:

Ask yourself these questions while deciding on your roommate:

  • Do they have a reliable source of income to pay rent and utility bills?
  • Do they have pets?
  • Can you trust them to be around your personal belongings?
  • Are they willing to sign a lease and abide by the terms and conditions?
  • How do you plan to split up home responsibilities?
  • Who will they have over as guests?

Usually, room sharing is closed over Whatsapp groups or social media.

Amenities to Look for

  • Apartment Amenities: Wifi, Microwave, Heater, Refrigerator, Storage, Washer, Dryer, Fireplace. These amenities are basic needs and it is strongly suggested that you look for an accommodations that fulfil the basic appliances and services needs.
  • Community Amenities: BBQ, Swimming pool, Fitness Centre, Study Area, Garage, Courtyard, Bike Storage, Public Transportation, Laundry, Pet Policy

Common Issues

  • Bed Bugs — These are common. To prevent bed bugs you can avoid using used/old mattresses.
  • Roaches — Safety against roaches can be assured by making sure that the pest control is carried out before you moved in.
  • Commuting — Prices for CTA Rails and Buses are subsidised for students.
  • Unsafe area — Walk Score is one website to check the safety score of localities. You can visit here.
  • Language or cross cultural barriers — Certain accommodations provide single community housing.

Leasing Terms

Deposit: Is a security fee that is paid to the landlord in terms of a fixed amount of money. Deposit is refundable at the end of your stay tenure. Average amount for deposits is $50 to $300 (or in some cases one month’s rent).

Application Fee: A fixed amount ranging from $25 per person to $75 per person. This is a non-refundable amount even if you have paid it already and then cancelled the booking.

Admin Fee: This fee is contributed by everyone who is renting the apartment. The refund policy is similar to the application fee.

Due to renter friendly laws in Chicago, it is very common for the tenant to abuse this privilege. Specific to the city, 90% of the accommodation landlords charge a really high Admin fee of $200 to $500 which is consequence of manhandling and defilement of the properties.

Pet Charges: Varies from apartment to apartment. Can range from $3 to $10 per month per pet.

Wait List Charge: An amount that needs to be given to the apartment to lock your request. For some popular apartments there are wait-list charges (token money) that you have to deposit. It is a non-refundable amount, but for certain apartments.

Booking Charges: The total cost that you end up paying at the time of booking stacks up as follows: Deposit + Application Fee (per person) + Admin Fee + Pet Charges (per pet). In certain cases the apartment may also ask for the first month’s rent.

Social Security Number (SSN): If you are a US resident you need to have a Social Security number to get an apartment on rent. SSN is linked to your credit history report which is

Credit Score: It is a number that depicts a person’s creditworthiness based on past financial history. If you have an impressive credit score the amount for deposit significantly decreases. Some apartments may have a minimum threshold credit score to make you an eligible renter.

Number of Tenants: The max number of people who can stay in an apartment is mostly mentioned in the apartment guidelines. Generally, 2 students are allowed per room (1b — max. 2 students, 2b — max. 4 students) in the apartment. Often, to save rental costs, students accommodate guests for permanent basis without informing the apartment management. This is not advised and may lead to cancellation of your lease agreement. However, you can accommodate guests for temporary basis without any issues.

Lease Duration: In formal leasing agreements, rental periods typically break down accordingly:

  • One-year lease
  • Six-month lease
  • Three-month lease
  • Month-to-month lease

Usually a longer leasing period will significantly drop your monthly rent amount. Abandoning a lease can mean serious financial and legal consequences.

Guarantor: In certain cases, the landlord/housing management may require a lease guarantor which acts as a third party to help provide security in terms of the rental. You can get concession in deposits if you have a guarantor.

Lock-In Period: A minimum fixed amount of time before which if the rental agreement is broken, then the tenant won’t get refunds on deposit. The lock-in period varies and is mentioned clearly in the lease agreement.

Agreement Document Requirements: Following are the documents required to process the rental agreement:

  • i20 (mandatory)
  • Passport (mandatory)
  • Visa (mandatory)
  • Bank Statement (in certain cases)
  • Credit Score (in certain cases)

The agreement needs to be attested (digitally signed or hand-signed soft copy) along with the verification documents for each of the boarders mentioned on the lease agreement.

Rent and Utility Pricing


  • For 1 bed 1 bath — $600 to $1500
  • For 2 bed 2 bath — $1200 to $2400
  • For 3 bed (2 or 3 bath) — $1600 to $3000
  • Deposit Range (1 months rent) —$600-$1000

Popular Apartments (links here are clickable)

  • Lake Meadows: 1–3Bed/Studio ($883-$1648). A preferred locality for students studying in UIC due to its proximity to the campus ground. It is also a comparatively cheaper area to live in.

  • Medical District: 1–3Bed/Studio ($118-$2335). Also very close to the university and a cheaper alternative.

You can browse more accommodations in Chicago and surrounding areas via this link: Click Here


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