International Education Program at College of San Mateo - Housing Tips
Fall 2018 Final Exams
December 11-17, 2018
Winter Recess
Dec. 22, 2018 - Jan. 13, 2019
Deadline to pay Spring 2019 fees
January 3, 2019
Sexual Misconduct & Title IX
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Linkedin
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
International Education Program
Housing Tips

College of San Mateo (CSM) does not offer on-campus housing. Living in the San Francisco-Bay Area can be very 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 (ie. gas, meals, 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 with a host family and living with the rules that the host family has for their house (such as what time to turn off your lights, 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 with eating in restaurants and cafeterias?
  • Do you plan on using the bus (public transportation) to travel to school? Do you plan on buying a car and driving to school?
  • Do you know the distance from your housing options to CSM?
  • When can you move into your housing?
Types of Housing
  • Homestay
    Renting a room and living with a host family or a host person. You can expect to share family public space like the kitchen, living room, and bathroom.
  • Collegeiate Residence
    Dorm style residence set in a hotel offering a furnished bedroom. Unique to the San Mateo area.  
  • 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 with a separate bathroom and kitchen. The living room and bedroom are combined into one room
  • Duplex
    Two separate houses that join together at one of the outer walls.
  • Condominium
    Similar to an apartment, but each unit is privately owned.
  • House
    Multi-room living area (bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, living room, family room) plus a private yard and garage.
Housing Resources

Be aware that the different types of housing offer different levels of furnishing. Most apartments offer basic furnishing (stove, dishwasher, and refrigerator) but not furniture like a bed or couch. While homestay housing will have at least a bed, desk and dresser/closet in your room, and you will have some access to shared furnishings (television, kitchen appliances, couch, etc.). The collegiate residence offers a furnished bedroom (bed, desk, dresser/closet) and a television.

Students can purchase cheap furniture at area stores like Ikea and Target or by renting furniture.

CORT CORT provides furniture rental packages and housing information for students living off-campus. Most apartments in the U.S. are not furnished. CORT offers furniture rental, with additional packages for cookware, towels and linens, a TV, and more. Visit the CORT website for student furniture rental packages or for housing resources. CORT is a proud sponsor of the CORT Scholarship for International Students here at CSM.

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 may require you to continue paying rent for the months remaining in the lease or until another tenant moves in.
  • 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.).
  • 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 or not be included in the rent -- usually they are not included. Your lease will define if utilities are included.
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. The International Student Center can provide you with a copy of your financial statement. We will also be happy to provide you with a student verification letter.

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 tenancy and is designed to protect both parties' rights.

At a minimum, a lease or rental agreement should include the following:
  • Rental rate
  • Required damage deposit
  • Length of occupancy if a lease, or state month-to-month rental
  • Apartment rules
  • Termination requirements
Tips to Avoid Scams
  • Try not to rent without seeing the apartment in-person first.
  • Deal locally, and 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 a scam.
  • Never wire funds to a landlord under any circumstances.
  • Use a browser to search for the person's name who you are dealing with. Be sure to add quotes around their name.
  • Stay away from "landlords" who are anxious or to eager to lease the apartment to you.
  • Internet Fraud - If you are using a classified advertising website like Craigslist to search for apartments in or near San Mateo, please be aware that fraud often occurs on these types of websites. Be sure to view the scam information page on the website before you make any advance payments.