Living off-campus can be a wonderful time in your college career, and knowing your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, roommate, neighbor and community member will ensure a safe and healthy living experience. Students are typically excited for the additional independence, freedom and responsibilities that are associated with their off-campus transition. Although there are no “cookie cutter’ strategies, hopefully this information can help assist you with your own endeavors.

For the start of the Fall semester, student generally begin their search around April/May. For the start of the Spring Semester, Students generally begin their search around November/December. An Apartment community will know their availability only 60-90 days ahead of your chosen move in date. You can start searching and calling communities of interest, but only contact them to ask about availability within the time fame. You can request photos of the apartments and floor plans; you can also request virtual tours. The earlier you research the communities of interest the more likely you will find something that meets most of your needs and wants. The best thing about the process is that it's yours. We do not assign students to off-campus housing nor provide roommate matching services; it is your responsibility to find the best fit in both situations. However, it is our goal to provide information, resources and education for your successful transition.

We encourage you to explore the below sites for off-campus housing. Please note that ALI at SDSU Global Campus is not affiliated with and does not endorse any complexes advertised on the sites below. Students must contact the manager of each apartment building directly with questions, current pricing and availability.

How safe is it to live in the San Diego Area?

Safety should be a priority when looking for off-campus housing. Be aware of your surroundings, and take all safety precautions. It’s just about being smart. When viewing a prospective property, consider lights, landscaping, common areas, door systems, windows, garage/storage areas, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, maintenance and the certificate of compliance with city regulations.

Click the areas below for more information:

Leasing Process

Most leasing agencies/management companies require a deposit at the time of signing the lease as security against property damage, uncleanliness and unpaid rent. Before signing a lease, be sure that you are satisfied with the apartment/home, services provided by the landlord and the security of the apartment/home.

Different types of leases

  • Month-to-Month Lease: This rental agreement means you are renting an apartment or room by the month. This agreement may be terminated on a 30- or 60- day notice or terms may be changed on a 30- or 60- day notice.
  • Lease for a Specific Term: Many apartment rentals require a one-year lease. This type of lease should be made in writing, and should contain certain terms like the address or description of the property, the rent or other charges, the length of the contract, and the parties involved. When entering a one-year lease, be aware that you, as the renter, are obligated to pay the entire duration of the lease.

The landlord is required to:

  • Make sure your property is livable and complies with all building, fires and housing code.
  • Make and pay for repairs due to ordinary wear and tear.
  • Refrain from turning off tenant’s water, electricity or gas.
  • Provide written notice to tenants when ownership of the property is transferred to another landlord.
  • Before ending the rental agreement, the landlord must give proper notice to the tenant and in the case of eviction, follow proper legal procedures.
  • Not unlawfully discriminate.
  • Not raise the rent or charge any other leases provisions without giving the tenant proper notice.

Before you Sign a Lease

A lease is a legal document which states that if you sign, you are agreeing to the terms put forward on the document. It should be reviewed carefully before signing. Consider the following:

  • Read the lease very carefully
  • Do not sign the lease or any agreement until every passage is fully clear to you.
  • If any changes are made in ink to the lease, make sure all parties have signed by the changes.
  • What is the rent amount? Does it change?
  • Is the lease for a term or is it month-to-month?
  • Who will be living there? Are the names on the lease?
  • Are there any late charges? If so, how much and when are they charged?
  • Are there any restrictions on having guests?
  • What is the cancellation policy should you need to break the lease?
  • Are there unreasonable rules and regulations?
  • Can you sublease?
  • Are utilities included? If so, which are included?
  • How are maintenance issues handled? Are there any costs to the tenant?
  • Are pets allowed? Are there restrictions? Are there any additional costs?
  • Do you have to notify the landlord of anything before the lease ends?

After you Sign the Lease/Move In

  • Take pictures of all existing damage and give to the landlord via email within 24 hours of moving in.
  • Provide a 30-day notice prior to your move-out date. If you are moving out before the leasing period ends, you will still be obligated to pay the remaining rental payments. Clean the space thoroughly to avoid penalties. The property manager will deduct from the security deposit to clean your space and repair any damages.

Breaking a Lease: If you need to move before the end of your lease, talk to your landlord or management office. They may have options for breaking a lease, such as finding someone else to take over the lease. If you are not able to break a lease, you are still responsible for the remaining rent owed on the lease. Legal actions may be taken against you should you decide to move and do not notify anyone or pay the rent.

Social Security Number

Social Security Number (sometimes abbreviated as “SS#” or “SSN”): On the apartment application, they might ask you for a Social Security Number. Most of you do not have a SS# and cannot get one unless you work legally in the U.S. The reason they want your SS# is to see your credit history (if you pay your bills and if you are in good financial standing). They want to make sure you will pay your rent on time. What we suggest is to tell them you do not have an SS# because you are an international student, but offer to pay either a higher security deposit OR pay the rent for your whole rental period in advance. Also make sure you tell the manager that you have an I-20. You may be required to show this document.

IMPORTANT! If you HAVE a SS# (a number of students from Saudi Arabia do), but have NOT lived in the U.S. as an adult, it is best for you to tell the apartment people that you do not have a SS#, since you do not have any credit history here in the U.S. If you do give them your SS#, you will likely not be approved, and you will not be able to re-apply to the same apartment building. This is not being dishonest. I confirmed this information with an apartment manager, and this is what they prefer

Application Fee

All apartments charge an application fee, which ranges from $25-$50. The application fee is usually per person, not per apartment. So if you are looking for an apartment with a friend, you will both pay a separate application fee.

Security Deposit
  • A security deposit is always required when renting an apartment. The security deposit is typically equal to one month’s rent, although it may be higher.
  • For more information regarding security deposits, please use the following link:
Renters Insurance
  • Some leases require that you purchase renter’s insurance. Renter’s insurance protects you against liability losses and losses to personal property. It may also protect you against claims by the landlord for damage done to the property even if it was caused by an accident. This insurance is usually to benefit you.
    • Farmer’s Insurance
      5910 Pacific Center Blvd., Ste. 300
      (858) 550-9060
  • Furnished / Unfurnished: Most apartments are unfurnished, but you can buy used furniture in San Diego from private parties at New economical furniture may be purchased at IKEA, Target, or Wal-Mart. You may also rent furniture at or at
  • Appliances: Apartments usually do include large appliances (refrigerator, stove) and may or may not include a microwave. You will be responsible for providing your own dishes, silverware, linens, television, stereo, etc. If you are trying to save money, thrift stores and Craig’s List can be a good source for these items.
  • San Diego Geography: San Diego is a large, urban city of approximately 1.3 million people. A very detailed map of the entire region can be found here: San Diego State University is south of the 8 Freeway, and just east of the 15 Freeway (the yellow square near the words “College West”).
    • Within San Diego are several small neighborhoods, each with their own name. A map of different areas of San Diego can be found here:
      • These neighborhoods are close to SDSU: College Area (“College East” and “College West”), Del Cerro, Mission Valley, Allied Gardens, Kensington, La Mesa
      • If you want to live near the ocean, these areas are near the beach: Pacific Beach (mostly college students and young professionals), Mission Beach, Mission Bay, La Jolla, and Ocean Beach. PLEASE NOTE: Public transportation near beach areas is not very convenient. Therefore, we recommend that students who want to live in beach areas MUST have a car to commute to and from SDSU.


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