Comparing Dorms and Finding Housing at UC Berkeley

July 13, 2022
Hello again everyone!

It’s finally that time of year where new and returning students may be trickling back into Berkeley looking for their new classes, tourist sites, and most importantly, new housing locations. But for those who haven’t yet found their housing location, or are looking a semester or year early (which, good for you!), here’s a brief overview of the different housing options that Berkeley students have access to, and how to find those options.

In summary, there are many different housing options that Berkeley has for its students, including the on-campus dorms, co-op housing, housing through Greek life, university affiliated housing, and off campus housing in apartment complexes or houses. Most students (both at Berkeley and beyond) tend to live in the dorms for their first year, then explore the off-campus housing mentioned above that were offered.

Living in the dorms your first year is not required. Some students choose to commute from home or live off-campus during their first year. However, living in the dorms for one’s first year is a very popular option: 92-97% of our first-years and 30% of our transfers choose live in one of the campus residence halls (learn more at 

Berkeley’s Housing Website!

In terms of the dorm options for freshmen, there’s Clark Kerr, Units 1,2, and 3, Blackwell Hall, International, Stern, and Foothill. And based on your budget, interests, and/or what you’ll be studying, you might change your mind on which dorm you’d like to live in.

For students who are more athletic or are interested in Greek Life, I would recommend Clark Kerr. Although it’s one of the farthest from campus (about half a mile from campus), you will never be able to complain about not getting a workout. The nice thing about Clark Kerr is that to make up for that distance from campus, it has its own track and soccer fields (with amazing views, by the way), outdoor volleyball and basketball courts, as well as an outdoor swimming pool (which is especially amazing on hot days). They also have one of the better gyms of the dorms which is really nice, as well as their own gardens and outdoor rest areas for relaxation and/or meditation. And for those interested in Greek Life but don’t want to commit too early, it is only a block or two away from most of the fraternity and sorority houses so you’ll definitely have the convenience of exploring them without traveling too far.

For students in the College of Engineering or Chemistry, I recommend Foothill or Stern Hall. This is because location-wise, those are the closest dorm options to the central hubs of the college of Engineering and Chemistry. But since Stern is reserved for female-identifying students only, I would recommend people more hesitant about living with a different gender to stay at Stern. But both of these housing options are very nice (and also like Clark Kerr, extremely close to many of the hiking trails, meaning that you’ll most likely see a turkey or deer on your way to and from school.

For students who have a little more money to spend on housing and want to feel a little boujee, I recommend Blackwell Hall. Although it’s a tad bit farther from campus than the dorms (only by 1-2 blocks), it is so, so nice. They have ping pong tables in at least every other floor, a lecture-hall style auditorium to hold meetings, a private gym that I find even cooler and fancier than our university gym (but if you like the bigger gym it’s also only a few blocks away), and finally for those too lazy to take out the trash, there are TRASH CHUTES, meaning you take your trash and put it in the chute and you’re done, without any need to go all the way downstairs to dump anything.

For people interested living in a more culturally diverse community, I highly recommend International House, or I-House for short. Most I-House residents are international students, and just having visited there for the first time yesterday, everyone was so welcoming (also I heard that the food there is the best, so definitely visit if you haven’t already;).

For most students, I would recommend Units 1-3. Being the closest to campus (only a few blocks away), it is definitely the most convenient, and has everything you would imagine in your typical college dorm, but with communal areas with couches and pool/pingpong tables you can invite friends to play with. And despite not having an official gym, they all have really nice areas to study at, as well as elliptical/treadmill/bike machines that for many people is sufficient as is (plus being in unit one freshman year myself, I’m a little biased but unit one is definitely my favorite).

We have buffet-style dining halls located at all of our on-campus residence locations. These different locations provide a wide variety of options for all students, including both vegan and vegetarian options. On campus and in the surrounding community, there are many different eateries, cafes and restaurants for students to explore. To learn more about different meal plans, places to eat and just general dining at UC Berkeley, feel free to visit

If you are a newly admitted student, you will receive a housing offer for an on-campus residence if you 1) complete the housing application by the deadline and 2) list “Any Room, Any Location” as one of your preferences. This applies to both freshmen and transfer students. In regards to on-campus housing, budget-minded students should be aware that standard quad and triple rooms are the least expensive housing option in the UCB residence halls. To determine housing options within your budget, we recommend you consult the housing rates page here: In addition, if you are a Financial Aid recipient, you can also consult the Cost of Attendance estimate that the Financial Aid Office uses to determine the amount of gift aid and loans that are available to you! Please feel free to read more about financial aid here:

Most singles are reserved for people who need special accommodations. It is unlikely that you will be able to secure your preferred location and a single. Additionally, a lot of students make their closest friends by living in the residence halls and having roommates!

Although it’s possible for students to continue staying in the dorm during their 2nd-4th years, most students choose to live outside of the dorms to live with friends or learn to be more independent. And although housing in Berkeley can be a big stressor, Cal offers many resources for finding housing. And if you are determined to find a specific place at a specific budget, you definitely will find one (beyond our campus resources, any Berkeley Housing Facebook Group should be more than enough to help you find a place:)). And regardless of where you decide to stay, Berkeley will have all the resources to support you and make sure that you can find the community and home that’s right for you :).

– Jo:)

Josephine and dorm-mate

A picture with one of my best dorm-mates from freshman year!