These topics may be most beneficial for new students.

Housing Options

University housing

International House

I-house welcomes students from everywhere including domestic students to live. If you’d like to live in a community where you can meet people from all over the world and learn about different cultures, I-house is definitely a good place to live. It is operated by itself, which means that it is not operated by university housing. The residents are mainly graduate students, visiting scholars, post docs and some upper-grade undergraduates. The rooms are dorm styled, with single and double rooms. Graduate students, visiting scholars and post docs have priority to choose single rooms. The cost covers room and board (yes! everything!), so it is hassle-free. Though the price may look quite expensive, you can actually apply for financial aid. It is actually relatively easy to receive some amount of financial aid (from a sample of two students, each received 4.5K. One is annual financial aid, the other is spring financial aid). Since I-house requires students to be on campus as full-time students for at least one semester before applying for the financial aid from I-house, incoming new graduate students cannot apply when they first apply for housing. But, you can apply in October when you already lived in I-house for their spring financial aid. Overall, it can help you reduce costs.

  • Close to campus: YES
  • Difficulty level of applying: Low, if apply early (mid-April when the application just starts). High later.

Manville Apartments

Manville apartments serve as university-owned housing for single graduate students. The priority is given to Law students. All units are studios. The price is cheaper compared to off-campus studios, especially given its location.

  • Close to campus: YES
  • Difficulty level of applying: High. (Rumor has it that the application process starts at around February every year. It is not quite ideal for new students since most of them haven’t received offers yet, or haven’t decided which school to attend. Therefore, when it is time to start thinking about housing e.g. April/May, this place may already be filled up.)

Ida Louise Jackson Graduate House Apartments

Ida Louise Jackson Graduate House is another university-owned housing option for single graduate students. It is apartment-styled housing, where you need to share the apartment with 2-6 other students depending on the number of bedrooms. Of course, you have your own bedroom.

  • Close to campus: YES
  • Difficulty level of applying: Don’t know

UC Village

University Village is university-owned housing for graduate students with families.

  • Close to campus: NO (need to take AC transit bus 51B or 52, which is free given that every student will receive a Class Pass – see Transportation Options below for information.)
  • Difficulty level of applying: HIGH! (extremely long wait-list)

For questions about family student housing, call 510-642-4109.

Berkeley Student Cooperative

Berkeley Co-op has relatively competitive prices (that means it’s a steal!) compared to other types of housing. They offer several graduate-student-only units. The cost covers room and board. There are 6-10 hours of duty required per week. You need to have points in order to have priority in choosing rooms. If you’ve never lived in a co-op before, the chance that your point total is 0 is highly likely.

  • Close to campus: YES
  • Difficulty level of applying: HIGH!

Off-campus housing

Near campus, many of these are either one or two bedroom units in an apartment complex. Further out and/or for higher prices, houses are also available. It is quite difficult to find three bedroom or two-bed/two-bath apartments. The price for a one bedroom unit often ranges from $1500 to $2500 depending on the location and furnishing. The price range for a two bedroom unit is $2000 to $3000. Landlords generally require anywhere from 1 to 3 months of rent as a security deposit, and under most circumstances (i.e. you’re not trying to bring back the 80’s with a sweet piece of water-filled furniture), California law limits security deposits (including pet deposits) to no more than 2 months’ rent for unfurnished units and 3 months’ rent for furnished units. Keep in mind that you may also be required to pay the first month’s rent at signing. See more about CA law and its protections here.

Some units are part of a house, or an entire house for renting directly from the owner of the house. These housing listings can be found on:

  • Craigslist
  • Cal Rentals: To use this service, unfortunately, students need to pay a fee. (This site does not generally have a huge number of listings and is not usually all that useful, but the Cal Rentals Office does offer housing counseling: M-F, 10AM until 4PM, 2610 Channing Way, second floor, 510-642-3644).

Other notes

Check out the Rent Stabilization Board from City of Berkeley. It will help you understand your rights as a tenant.

Food Options


Asian cuisine

Nearby grocery stores

  • Trader Joe’s, 1885 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94703.
  • Safeway, 1444 Shattuck Place, Berkeley, CA 94709.
  • Berkeley Bowl: Two locations in Berkeley. Tons of produce and organic food.
    • “the original” Berkeley Bowl, 2020 Oregon Street, Berkeley, CA 94703
    • Berkeley Bowl West (newer, slightly bigger, but further from campus), 920 Heinz Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94710
  • Ranch 99[大华超市/大華超市]: It is an Asian food supermarket chain in the west coast, usually the center of Asian businesses including Asian cuisine restaurants, banks, and stores. The closest one is in Richmond Annex, north of Berkeley. It can be reached from campus by car (10-20 minutes) or by BART – it’s less than a mile west of the El Cerrito Plaza BART station (2 stops north of Downtown Berkeley BART).
  • Whole Foods, 3000 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705.
  • Andronico’s, 1550 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709. Nice but expensive. Sometimes they have items other stores don’t.
  • Monterey Market, 1550 Hopkins St, Berkeley, CA 94707

Transportation Options


All AC transit buses and BearTransit campus shuttles are free for Berkeley students when they have a Class Pass sticker, which is covered by student fees. Students need to renew it every semester at the Cal 1 Card office located in Lower Sproul Plaza, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. To renew, go to the office and show them your Cal ID, and the staff there will swipe your card to verify your student identity and then put a sticker on your card. Later, when you take the buses within AC transit system, you just need to show your Cal ID with the most recent sticker to the bus driver.

AC transit real-time departure information is available online, via mobile apps, or via text message. To check departure times by text messaging, you’ll need a stop ID, which can be found on the stop board of each stop.


BART is usually the best and fastest way to get to San Francisco airport, Oakland airport and San Francisco.

Tickets can be purchased at the ticket machine in each station. To use a BART ticket machine, choose whether you’d like a new ticket or already have a ticket to which you’d like to add value. If you do have a ticket, you’ll insert the ticket and put more money onto the ticket. Optionally, you can deposit the exact amount of fare needed for your trip. If you do that, the exit machines will automatically keep your ticket when exit the station. If your ticket has a balance, it will pop out from the exit machine with the balance printed on the card.

If you will use BART frequently, you can order a Clipper card, which can be registered in case of loss or theft and sometimes allows you to purchase discount fares.


If you’d like to travel to other places in the Bay area, Caltrain is a good option. It is connected with BART at the Millbrae station.


If you have a car, or would like to have one, or need a CA driver license, DMV is definitely the place you need to visit. There are two nearby DMV offices, one each to the north and south of Berkeley (other locations):

  • Oakland office, to the south: 5300 Claremont Avenue, Oakland, CA
  • El Cerrito office, to the north: 6400 Manila Avenue, El Cerrito, CA

Both DMV offices are accessible via BART and AC Transit. Appointments are strongly recommended and can be made online.

If you have a driver’s license in another state, you only need to pass the written test to receive a California driver’s license. There are 36 questions, with 6 or fewer mistakes in order to pass the exam. You’re given a maximum of three chances to pass per visit to the DMV. Be sure to review the California Driver Handbook and the online Practice Tests. The license fee is $33. More information is available here.

Car rental

If you don’t have a car, or if you plan to visit without one, a membership to a car-sharing service may come in handy. The two biggest ones in the Bay Area are Zipcar and City CarShare. Both provide academic discounts to UC Berkeley students. Be sure to sign up for this in advance of when you’ll need a car as it takes time to receive your card in the mail.

For last minute rentals, there are several agencies in Berkeley and at area airports. The closest car rental offices to campus are Avis and Enterprise.

Leisure Activities

Local Tourism

San Francisco

Short drive, BART ride, or bus ride across the Bay. Check out the Golden Gate bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, Chinatown, Japan Town, Golden Gate Park, Lombard Street, etc.

Lake Tahoe

Napa/Sonoma Valleys

Easiest to reach and get around in by driving, but not impossible to reach by public transit (one option is to take a shuttle from the airport; check out Napa Car Free for more options). Car services are also a popular (but expensive) option, particularly if you’ll be drinking. Uber recently expanded its service to Napa, providing more affordable option for getting around in (but not getting to) Napa. The biggest tourist activity in both Napa and Sonoma is obviously visiting one or more out of hundreds of wineries – expect tasting fees to average around $20 per person, depending on the winery. However, there are many other locations to visit and activities offered, including restaurants, breweries, festivals, hiking, ziplining, etc. See the official websites of Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley for more information.


3.5-4 hour drive from campus, potentially longer depending on conditions, but worth it. This is another destination that is more easily reached with a car, but there are alternatives. There are more activity/trail options during the summer, but the park is also more crowded during this season. Waterfalls are best viewed in the spring, but remaining snow can leave some roads and trails challenging or closed altogether. To stay in the park during peak season, plan to reserve well in advance (a few months – schedule available here). Otherwise, limited accommodations are available west of the park gates (30+ minute drive to the “village”).

Miscellaneous Information for New Students

See below to learn about free e-books available to UC Berkeley students!

Below are a few pieces of miscellaneous relevant information for new students. Visit New Student Services for more tips.

  • After your CalNet ID is activated, sign up for a email account. Go to the bConnected Home Page and click on Create New Account. For in-person assistance, you can visit Student Computer Consulting Services (SCCS), M-F, 10AM until 2PM, Moffitt Library, first floor.
  • The Cal 1 Card photo ID is “YOUR ONE CARD TO CAL” and provides access to various campus services, buildings, and events, which include public transit, library, health, computer labs, recreational sports, sporting events, and dining services as well as a free declining balance debit account. The Cal 1 Card office is open M-F and during move-in weekend, 9AM until 4:30PM (510-643-6839).
  • If you need a copy of your class schedule, you can view and print a copy via Bear Facts or CalCentral.
  • If you’ll be using a bike on campus, register it; if it gets stolen, a bike license may increase the chances of recovery. The UC Police Department (UCPD) offers bicycle licenses for free. You can get more information about keeping bicycles safe on campus, and where and when to get a license, from UCPD (510-642-6760). More bike info and resources are available at Parking and Transportation.
  • Purchase a parking permit in person from the Parking and Transportation office (2150 Kittredge Street, M-F, 7:30AM until 4PM, 510-643-7701).
  • The WarnMe alerting and warning service will send you phone, text, or email messages in case of a major emergency. You should be automatically signed up, but for details or to opt-out, visit the WarnMe website. Also, campus sirens are tested on the first Wednesday of every month at noon – so don’t freak out. Go here for more details.
  • Financial Aid Checks / CARS (Campus Accounts Receivable System) Refunds: Refunds are easiest if issued via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). With EFT, funds are deposited directly into your checking or savings account as long as you are registered for the term and your CARS account balance is current. Otherwise, a check will be printed and held for you to pick up at Cal Student Central, 120 Sproul Hall, M-F 9AM to 4PM. Refund checks cannot be mailed or released to a third party. To activate or update your EFT authorization, visit the EFT Website for Students.
  • Books and readers (used/new/digital) are available for rent or purchase form the Cal Student Store at 2480 Bancroft Way, M-F 8:30AM until 6PM, Sat, 10AM until 6PM, Sun, noon until 5PM (510-845-1226). However, many students choose to purchase books online.
    • Depending on the publisher, digital copies of some books are available free of charge for download within the campus network (legally!) – see the sites of Springer (where soft-cover copies are also available to students for only $25) and Wiley for details.
  • EmpowerU: All new students are required to take one in-person violence prevention and intervention program by the end of their first semester. For detailed information and RSVPs, visit the Gender Equity Resource Center.