General Information on Housing in Davis

Long-Term Housing

Living in the Davis area can be expensive, so it is important to set a budget as to how much you can spend on housing. Here are some important questions to consider when you start thinking about housing:

  • How much money are you willing to pay monthly for rent? (highest to lowest)
  • What expenses are included in the rent that is advertised? (ie. does it include gas, electricity, water, laundry, etc.)
  • Are you comfortable living with a roommate? How many roommates? Are you okay with living with someone of the opposite gender (male or female)?
  • Are you comfortable living in a private home and living with the rules for the private home? (i.e. rules about whether you can have visitors, whether you can have full use of the kitchen, what kind of food you can cook, how late you can return to the house, etc.)
  • Will you need fully furnished housing or do you plan on buying furniture? Is it important to you to cook your own food or are you okay with eating in restaurants and cafeterias?
  • Do you plan on using the bus (public transportation) or a bike to travel to the University? Do you plan on buying a car and driving to campus?  If so, have you included the cost of gas and parking in your budget calculations?
  • Do you know the distance from your housing options to the campus?  Please be aware that the UC Davis Medical Center is in the city of Sacramento and is approximately 21 miles from the city of Davis. 
  • When can you move into your housing?

Types of Housing

Private Home:  renting a room and living with an individual homeowner or family. You can expect to share general living space like the kitchen, living room, and bathroom.  It is important to understand all the privileges and limitations a private home-owner may want before making any type of agreement.

Apartment: a set of rooms with separate bedroom(s), bath, kitchen, living room. Most apartments are rented unfurnished (without furniture). Some apartments are advertised as "furnished." This means that a minimum amount of furniture is included with the rental.

Studio Apartment: an apartment where the living room and bedroom are combined into one room but there is a separate bathroom.  Some studios have a separate kitchen and some do not.

Duplex: two separate houses that join together at one of the outer walls.  Sometimes, a duplex is not much bigger than a one or two-bedroom apartment.

Condominium: similar to an apartment, but each unit is privately owned.

House: a multi-room living area (bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, living room, family room) plus a private yard and garage.

Common Housing Terms

Lease or Rental Agreement: a contract between you and your landlord in which you agree to pay a specific amount of rent for a certain number of months. If you move out before the ending date of the agreement, your landlord will require you to continue paying rent for the months remaining in the lease or until another tenant moves in.  It is very important to understand the terms of this agreement before signing a lease.

Sublet Apartment or “Sublease:” a sublet apartment (or room) means that a person is leaving an apartment, or a room in an apartment or townhouse, before the end of their rental agreement, either temporarily or permanently.  In either case, they have a contract with the landlord that has not expired.  When you “sublease,” you will either be liable for the contract temporarily or you may be liable for the rest of the contract if the person from whom you sublease does not intend to return before the contract expires.  It is important to be able to review the contract and/or have the expectations, privileges and limitations of the sublease in writing before agreeing to sublet a room or apartment.  In many cases, “summer sublets” are common and convenient.  However, during the rest of the year, a sublease may mean that you have agreed to take all the responsibilities of the contract that was previously signed.  It is important to understand the agreement before confirming you will sublease.  If the sublease is for a room in an apartment or townhouse, it is also important to understand all the issues, such as whether there are other roommates; whether laundry and kitchen facilities are available; whether you are expected to pay a portion of the gas, electric and wi-fi, etc.

Security Deposit: money that you must pay before you move into the housing. If you damage anything in the rental property, this money will be used to repair the damage to the property. This deposit is sometimes refundable if you have not damaged the property.

Property Management Company: a company that is paid to manage a rental property for the property's owner. The company finds renters and makes sure the renters follow the lease. The company may also provide basic maintenance service.

Apartment Manager: the person in charge of your apartment building. Managers are paid to take care of problems and financial issues (collecting rent, deposits, etc.).  They sometimes also rent out apartments in an apartment complex.

Landlord: the property owner who rents houses or apartments to tenants.

Tenant: the person who rents a house or an apartment.

Utilities: services such as water, gas, electricity and garbage pick-up. These services may be included in the rent -- usually they are not included. Your lease will define if utilities are included.  If not, it’s important to ask what the likely additional amount you will need to pay each month will be.

Tips on Renting an Apartment

When looking for housing, you may be asked for financial information. Since you will have no financial history in the United States, you should bring a current bank statement and a letter from your sponsor, showing funds that cover about three months of rent. SISS can verify your status and financial documents with a potential landlord if they call or fax a request for the information, but only if you email us permission to do so ahead of time, in writing


A lease is a binding legal contract between you and a landlord stating the duration of residence, rent rate, amount of refundable security deposit and apartment rules. When you find the apartment of your choice, make sure you read the rental or lease agreement before you sign the papers. All rental agreements or leases should be in writing. Read it thoroughly and make sure you understand it completely. If there is any language you do not understand, ask a reliable person to explain it to you. If your landlord does not give you a copy, it is important to request one; your agreement is the only evidence of your legal rights and responsibilities.

At a minimum, a lease or rental agreement should include the following:

  • Monthly Rent Due
  • Required damage deposit
  • Length of occupancy if a lease, or state month-to-month rental
  • Apartment rules
  • Termination requirements
  • Information on what will happen if you leave the property before the lease is up

For a helpful checklist of items to review when considering your apartment options, click here.

Tips to Avoid Scams

  • Try not to rent without seeing the apartment in person first or at least having a friend view the place.
  • Always meet the property manager, landlord, or agent in person.
  • Do not give out your financial information (such as a bank account number) without seeing the apartment in person first.
  • Be sure to check different websites for the cost of rent. If the rental price is very low then the apartment listing is likely to be a scam.
  • It is very risky to wire money to anyone ahead of time, as you may not have a way of recovering the money if the situation turns out to be false.
  • Use a browser to search for the person's name who you are dealing with. Be sure to add quotes around their name.  In general, it is good to do some research through search engines on any individual who is renting a room, apartment or house.
  • There is a lot of information – including “ratings” for rental opportunities – on Davis Wiki and other search sites.  It is good to do research on an apartment or landlord before signing any agreements or depositing any money.

Tips on Getting Furniture

Be aware that the different types of housing offer different levels of furnishing. Most apartments offer basic kitchen appliances (stove, dishwasher, and refrigerator) but not furniture like a bed or couch. Most apartments do not have clothes washers and dryers in the apartment so it is important to know if these are on the premises or if you will have to travel to do your laundry.  Private homes generally offer at least a bed, desk and dresser/closet in your room, and you will have some access to shared furnishings (television, kitchen appliances, couch, clothes washer, etc.).   However, each situation can be different and it is important to get all the information on what is included before making an agreement with any type of housing situation.

International students and scholars can purchase cheap furniture at area stores like Target.  There are also several thrift stores in the area that sell inexpensive used furniture, such as the SPCA Thrift Store.  There are companies that rent furniture (search for “furniture rentals”), as well as moving vans.  Finally, SISS offers a listserv on which many international students and scholars, as well as landlords, post information about apartments for rent, items for sale, etc.  New international students and scholars can often purchase what they need from departing international students and scholars at very reasonable prices.  Information about the listserv is on our website