UCLA: Off-Campus vs. On-Campus Housing

UCLA: Off-Campus vs. On-Campus Housing

The decision to live on or off campus in college has a large effect on your overall college experience. In order to make such an important decision, it is critical to know all the pros and cons of each living situation. If you are a UCLA student struggling to decide whether you would like to live in the dorms or in a Westwood apartment, you have come to the right place.

On-campus housing brings unmatched convenience, however less freedom as dorm residents must abide by UCLA’s code of conduct. Living in an off-campus apartment near UCLA or house for rent in Santa Monica gives you added freedom while increasing commuting time.

For freshmen, the answer is usually clear. Living on campus provides a great way to make friends and get acclimated to the beautiful Westwood campus. For those that aren’t freshmen, we will break down UCLA’s on/off campus housing costs, on campus housing policies, and the area around UCLA to help you make the best decision regarding your housing.


apartments near UCLA

One of the most important factors of your decision is how much each option costs. On-campus housing at UCLA runs from around $11,500-$19,200 per school year depending on your housing choice and meal plan.

UCLA also has on-campus apartments for about $7,900-$18,000 per school year. Unlike the dorms, on-campus apartments do not require a meal plan.

Students can choose from single and shared rooms as well as single and shared bathrooms. Single rooms/bathrooms tend to be more expensive. On-campus apartments that include a parking permit also come with added fees.

In comparison, apartments near UCLA that are off campus can run from $900-$2,000 per month based on the apartment’s size and location.

Off-campus apartments can be a cheaper option because residents aren’t required to buy a meal plan and they can add roommates to cut the total costs. For example, a one-bedroom apartment starts at $1,950 per month, which is comparable to a UCLA dorm. However, when you add a roommate you cut your rent in half, making living expenses much easier on your wallet.

In addition, while most apartment leases tend to be a year in length, many apartments near UCLA will cater to students and offer nine-month leases.


westwood apartments

In exchange for living within walking distance from most of your classes, you must comply with regulations mandated by UCLA’s residence life office. This includes quiet hours, guest supervision, and alcohol policies.

While most places you will live in will have some set of guidelines, college dorm rules are notoriously strict due to the liability faced on campus. If you would like to avoid those pesky RAs and have a little more freedom, renting a house in Santa Monica or a West Hollywood apartment might be a better choice.

However, living in an off-campus apartment near UCLA doesn’t mean there aren’t any rules. You must be mindful of your neighbors, as they can report you to the school if necessary. If you choose to live in a condominium complex near UCLA, you will often have to deal with a homeowner’s association and their rules.

Popular Neighborhoods near UCLA

apartments near UCLA

Areas where students tend to rent apartments near UCLA include Westwood, West Hollywood, and Santa Monica. Not only are these neighborhoods close to campus, but there are plenty of things to do in each respective city.


Westwood is known as the home of UCLA. Steeped in Bruin tradition, a Westwood apartment is the perfect destination for any UCLA student. Whether it’s the historic Fox Theatre or grabbing some dessert at Diddy Riese, Westwood Village is never a boring choice for a night out on the town.

West Hollywood

Just six miles east of Westwood lies the historic city of West Hollywood. Known as "WeHo" for short, this iconic city features the Sunset Strip with famous venues like the Whisky A Go Go and Laugh Factory. Because of its bustling nightlife, finding an apartment for rent in West Hollywood is popular among UCLA students.

Santa Monica

house for rent santa monica

The pier. The beach. Third Street Promenade. What isn’t there to like about Santa Monica? This world-famous beach city is another destination frequented by UCLA students. Renting a house in Santa Monica will give you access to plenty of activities year round.


While both on and off campus housing options provide a set of pros and cons, it is important to realize which ones affect you the most before making a decision. Usually it comes down to convenience versus freedom.

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