While organising the I-2o also look at housing facilities and decide whether to live on or off campus. When weighing options, I’d suggest to consider the following key points:

  • Length of stay

The length of the intended stay should definitely be one of your first considerations!

Typically, there are several options regarding lease-periods, for instance for 9 and 12 months or law designated housing.
The law school operates on semester and not on the quarter system. Therefore, leases vary time-wise. Law school ends in the first half of May. If students decide to take the bar exam, they choose to stay longer as the California bar exam takes place end of July.

Be aware that almost all lease contracts (at least the ones I have looked at) are 12 month leases ending either at the end of July (typically the move in date then is later in August) or towards the end of July (around the 20th). It is hardly ever the case that landlords provide more flexible lease options (trust me-I have asked).
If they let you choose to sign a 9 month contract ending in May they will charge a higher monthly rate. Therefore, in early May, tons of students post offers looking to sublease their accommodation for the summer period as it’s usually cheaper to rent out the place for the remainder of the one year lease rather than pay more for 9 months.
Facebook’s housing groups can be helpful in this regard. If you intend to sublease the apartment/bedroom/bedspace it is smart to go through the contract before signing and maybe even inform or ask the prospective landlord whether that might be an issue or will likely be okayed. 

  • Shared apartment/bedroom – Bachelor/Studio – 1 Bedroom/1 Person apartment

Interestingly, people or students in California share a bedroom, that means that there is a bedroom and a desk to work on for at least 2 persons in one room.
There are also shared apartments, of course those are pricier.
The most expensive option is the 1 bedroom/ 1 person apartment. It will be bigger as studios, which provide for simply one big living area, only the bathroom is separate. The actual size varies a lot, so take a peek at the actual square feet.
Bachelor apartments are smaller than studios. 

  • Amenities/utilities/Furnished–unfurnished

Long term leases tend to be unfurnished, costs for furnishing should be factored in. After the year is over transporting all furniture might be inconvenient as well. On the other hand, buying basic furniture in the US isn’t too expensive, but it will definitely make it easier to have a bed and mattress and a closet already in the accommodation.

However, there are companies offering furniture packages to rent on a monthly basis. You can pick what you need and it will be delivered and put up in your apartment. 

In addition, it is worth considering whether there is an oven, a dishwasher, A/C (general or mounted on wall or window) or ceiling fan only, laundry on site, shared bbq area or even rooftop access, a storage room or bike racks, a balcony, shared areas, etc.

Moreover, not all utilities are included in the rent. Usually, water and trash are, sometimes gas as well, but internet and cable are additional expenses based on the individual use thereof. 

  • Location

On or off campus is the big question.
In general, both possibilities are considerable. Obviously, students will spend most of their time on campus grounds (school, gym, activities like football or basketball games), which will likely lead to the conclusion to find an accommodation close by USC. An important fact to keep in mind is safety concerns. The area south(-east) of USC campus is known to be rather unsafe. Students might want to make sure to live within the USC campus patrol zones. Walking at night will be safest within those parameters. Housing expenses will be much lower outside of the immediate campus area though. Depending on how close you want to stay those are crucial factors to weigh against one another. 

  • Transportation / Parking

If you get a car parking will be pivotal, in other words parking availability and expenses should be kept in mind when looking for a place to live.
Heads up: tandem parking is common in Los Angeles and if you can I’d avoid it. 

In general, parking can be expensive, I have seen prices in the campus area up to $150 and that is per month! 

Narrowing down potential apartments can be a daunting and time intensive task.
Keeping an updated list with all information to each of the locations and facilities can be helpful.

ON – Campus housing:
If on campus is the choice, get the application done as early as possible. It won’t be on a first come first serve basis, instead housing availability is based on a lottery system. That doesn’t mean that receiving an on campus room/apartment is totally up to chance. Think of it as different pots in a chronological order and the lottery will work off each of the pots in that very order. Thus, the sooner you apply for on-campus housing, the better because your application will be considered earlier than applications in the following pots.  That being said, it is important to check whether the school has specific offers for LL.M. students aligned. 

The USC Campus is smaller than UCLA, therefore walking or biking from the apartment to school might be shorter. UCLA is not only a bigger school, but also located in the Hills, which means that one direction on foot will always be an uphill battle and it might easily take 25 minutes door to door (law school). 

OFF – Campus housing:
Unfortunately, for me on campus housing didn’t work out for me for several reasons. I’m certain the facilities are convenient and practical, but I simply wanted to stay at a studio. It definitely takes quite some time to find a good apartment when you’re not able to take a look in person. I really liked what I had found though, so if you’re diligent enough it will work out just fine. I’m quite glad I chose off-campus housing; I know a lot off LL.Ms who didn’t like the Founders building and moved out early and went through the ordeal to find another apartment to stay.


General information on housing – USC specific

Start your search

Lease Contract – Legal pitfalls Included facilities, water, garbage, electricity, internet, cable, TV https://studentaffairs.usc.edu/ssa/ssa-alternative-housing/