Tips for International Students

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 it 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.

Helpful guide for international students looking for off-campus housing

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 or International Student and Scholar Services 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.

You can read more about options for international students without a credit report or co-signer on the Budget, Rent, and Credit page of our website. 

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. 


Here is a list of Temporary Stays in San Francisco. If you would like to come to San Franciso before finding more permanent housing, this list will help. 


If you are worried about searching for housing while not being in SF, you may want to consider finding a place to stay temporarily after arriving in the city while you look for alternate housing. FOUND Study San Francisco is a great resource. 

FOUND Study San Francisco offers furnished private rooms and shared rooms in Downtown San Francisco. FOUND Study offers a USF student discount; see the link for details. 

More Information about FOUND Study SF: 

  • 30 Day minimum stay
  • Shared rooms can have as many as 4 people. The price per bed does not change whether you have 2, 3, or 4 people in total. You can choose to move in with roommates or have FOUND Study find roommates for you. 
  • There are bathrooms in each room. If you have a private room, you have your own bathroom; if you have roommates, you only share a bathroom with your roommates. There are multiple kitchen areas throughout the building that are shared with other residents. | (323) 312-3209

For more International Student information, contact International Student and Scholar Services at