If you want to live in university (affiliated) housing (more on the different types below) as soon as possible (or even if you think you might want it at some point), then you need to submit an application immediately after you click the acceptance link from your admissions offer. Your submission will be time-stamped and the earlier it is, the higher on the wait-list you will be. You are not committed to living in affiliated housing when you submit an application. You are just reserving yourself a spot for the future.
It used to be that as soon as a graduate student got affiliated housing, they would be able to remain there for the duration of their time at UCSD. The wait-lists had grown to three years for some locations and as such, it was critical to apply early. Now, affiliated housing is limited to two years. Once those two years have been used, you will be required to find off-campus housing.
The details of the affiliated housing policy can be found here.
Since there is a wait-list for housing, it might be advisable to find off-campus housing, while keeping your name on the wait-list. You can select a move-in date on your application. One could set a date in the future (potentially around the summer between third and fourth year so that you will have housing your fourth and fifth year and ideally you will not need any more). Then when that time comes, you will have one of the oldest applications on file and will have a good chance of getting your first pick for housing.
Since you will be living off campus for two to three years, you will need to find a place to stay. Below is more information about affiliated housing as well as off-campus options. Most of the information below was gathered through a survey of the math grads about housing options. If you are moving to San Diego and are considering a move to any one of the following locations, you should feel free to email “firstname.lastname@example.org” asking for further advice from the math graduate student community.
Considering Campus Housing?
The main on-campus graduate housing facilities are One Miramar, Mesa, and Coast Apartments. Over half of our grad students who live in campus housing live at One Miramar, and most of the rest live at Mesa. A few others live at Coast Apartments.
One Miramar is a new facility and is located in UTC. Students get to campus by biking (10-15 min.), walking (25-30 min.) or taking the UCSD Mesa Shuttle (20-25 min.). If you are moving to San Diego from out of town without a chance to see apartments ahead of time, One Miramar is a reliable and decent place to live. It is quiet, safe and close to school. Since your neighbors are other UCSD graduate students, it is a good way to meet graduate students from other departments.
Having other math grad students living nearby is convenient for new students since it makes it easier to meet up to work on homework or study for the qualifying exams. There are grocery stores, banks and the UTC mall within walking distance. However, there is not very much night life going on in this area and students often wish that there were more things to do near UTC.
Mesa is located right next to One Miramar, so travel times to campus are the same. As with One Miramar, students like Mesa because it is quiet and close to campus. The layout of Mesa has the feeling of a large park setting, and there are a lot more families living there compared to One Miramar. Our math graduate students with children have mentioned that they enjoy the two playgrounds at Mesa available for their kids.
Mesa is considerably less expensive than One Miramar, and consequently, getting into Mesa is difficult and requires signing up on a long wait list (see above). Some students get around the wait list by finding a UCSD student already living there who is looking for a roommate. This can be accomplished by sending an email to the UCSD grad housing message list: email@example.com and looking for available rooms. This message list is an excellent resource for finding off-campus housing as well, but there will be more on that to come.
Only a few math grad students live at Coast primarily because of the difficulty of getting in. Coast is the closest to campus and only a 10 min. bike ride to the math building. It is very close to the ocean and students living there enjoy the many running routes to the beach. Also, since Coast is closer to downtown La Jolla than other graduate housing, it is easier to take advantage of art and community events going on there.
A tour of a one-bedroom apartment in Coast can be found here.
Considering Off Campus Housing?
If you want to join the half of the math grad students that live off campus, it is helpful to know a bit about the various neighborhoods you can choose from. Most math grad students who live off campus live in UTC, Pacific Beach, and Hillcrest. Other neighborhoods that house a few of our students include Clairemont Mesa, downtown La Jolla, Mission Bay/Clairemont, Ocean Beach, Mission Hills and North Park.
University Town Center (UTC):
UTC is located just east of campus and was mentioned already when discussing One Miramar and Mesa. Students living off campus in UTC get to campus by biking (15 min.), walking (30 min.), driving (10 min.) or taking the UCSD Arriba or Nobel Shuttles (20-25 min.). UTC is close to campus, but off-campus housing there is rather expensive, since this is where most of the undergraduates who need to find off-campus housing their third year go. While apartments here tend to be quiet and close to grocery stores, there is a lack of fun activities nearby.
Pacific Beach (PB) is located just south of campus. It is a 30 minute bike ride away or a 20 minute drive. There is also a city bus (#30) to campus, which takes about 40 minutes. There is a great bike route from PB to campus called the Rose Canyon bike trail, which many students use. PB has a small town vibe with lots of grocery stores, restaurants and nightlife. Students living here are blocks from the ocean and a short walk to Mission Bay. There are a lot of college students that live in Pacific Beach that like to party and surf, so sometimes it can be quite loud. However, there are some quiet parts in PB to be found.
Hillcrest is south east of campus and about a 20 min drive away by freeway. Since UCSD has a medical center in Hillcrest, there is a UCSD Hillcrest shuttle that goes to and from campus 2 to 3 times an hour on weekdays. Many students who live in Hillcrest bike to the medical center and then take the shuttle, which takes 20 minutes. The benefit of this neighborhood is its proximity to many restaurants, bars, nightclubs, etc. It is just north of Downtown San Diego, and right next to Balboa Park, which is the location of many museums and the San Diego Zoo. The park also has many nice walking and jogging trails and many weekend activities going on. The drawback about living in Hillcrest is its distance from campus; however, some students enjoy living where they can separate their personal life from their work life.
Like Hillcrest, Clairemont Mesa is south east of campus but quite a bit closer. It is a 10 min. drive by car, and there is a city bus (#41) to campus which takes 20 min. Clairemont Mesa is a good place to live if you do not want to drive to campus a lot and want to save some money on your housing. The neighborhood is more middle class with many grocery stores, strip malls and movie theaters. One great thing about Clairemont Mesa is its proximity to many excellent Asian restaurants, and cheaper restaurants in general.
Downtown La Jolla:
This neighborhood is right next to campus, and students get to school within 20 minutes by city bus (#30). This is the same bus the PB folks take. Downtown La Jolla is characterized as being rich and clean, so as you might expect, any apartment that you can afford will be on the smaller side. It is one of the few neighborhoods close to school that has fun things that you can walk to. It is right next to the beach and there are lots of restaurants to choose from.
This area is south of campus, and just below Pacific Beach. Students living here bike to school, again using the Rose Canyon Bike trail, which takes about 35-45 minutes. Otherwise it is a 15 min. drive by freeway. It is more middle class and less expensive than La Jolla. You can live about one mile from the bay where you can run, bike and swim. It is also relatively close to Pacific Beach and Hillcrest if you want to go out on the weekend.
OB is south of Mission Bay and is a cute little beach community that does its best to reject retail chains of any kind. It is a bit quieter than Pacific Beach, and you can afford to live two blocks from the beach. Students living here get to school by driving, which takes 20 min. on the freeway.
Mission Hills and North Park:
These neighborhoods are right next to Hillcrest so your commute is very similar. You would either drive to school or take the Hillcrest Shuttle. North Park is just east of Hillcrest and you will find housing there less expensive than Hillcrest, while Mission Hills is west of Hillcrest and a bit more expensive. Mission Hills is the home of one of the better record stores in San Diego (M-Theory).
Below are some websites that will provide useful resources for your apartment search off campus.
- Commuter Student Services (if you’re new to UCSD you can email the housing people for a temporary login ID): http://offcampushousing.ucsd.edu/
- Craigslist SD: http://sandiego.craigslist.org/ (be cautious with any transaction on Craigslist)
- UCSD Guardian: http://ucsdguardian.campusave.com/ (campus newspaper classified)
- Backpage: http://sandiego.backpage.com/online/classifieds/
- San Diego Union Tribune Classifieds: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/classifieds/
- Padmapper: http://www.padmapper.com/
- Rent.com: http://www.rent.com/
If you want to take public transportation to get to campus, note that most city buses to and from school are free when you show your student ID with the proper bus sticker/U-Pass. For more information go to the UCSD Transportation Services website. Here are some San Diego public transit information.