How to Begin the Search as an International Student

As you will likely be out of the area, if not the country, the search can be more challenging. Student Housing and Residential Education offer some assistance in locating off-campus housing. However, renting an apartment in San Francisco will take some time and effort and is ultimately up to the student to find their own off-campus accommodations. The best resource to start your search is the USF Off-Campus housing website.

Living Off Campus in San Francisco

With the competitive rental market, it can take up to three weeks to locate accommodation, so plan your arrival and living arrangements in San Francisco accordingly. 

In order to rent an apartment, most rental agencies and landlords will verify your “credit history” in the United States, which would be evidenced by prior rentals in the United States, U.S. bank accounts, or credit cards. However, if you are new to the United States, then you can explain to the landlord that you do not have the mentioned documents. Additionally, ISSS has created a letter that explains these circumstances on behalf of USF international students. Go to the ISSS letters page to access the Vendor Letter and follow the instructions provided. Typically, landlords are understanding and welcome international guests.

What is a lease?

A “lease” (or rental agreement) is a binding legal contract between you and the property owner that obligates you to pay the landlord monthly rent for the duration of the lease. Most leases are for 12 months and are very difficult to alter or break. Living off-campus, while providing greater independence, may also result in expenses that you would not have if living on campus. These extra expenses include furniture, house appliances, transportation costs, and utilities such as water, electric, and gas service

Staying alert during your housing search

Never send money to someone without signing anything. Always see the inside of the unit before agreeing to anything. Don't trust landlords to hold units for you either. Oftentimes, if the place looks too good to be true, like very low rent and beautiful interior, it probably isn't a real location. Use your best instincts, and look out for yourself! Please visit our SCAMS tab to learn more. 


For more information, contact International Student and Scholar Services at