There are many resources and opportunities for international students and scholars looking for off-campus housing. Some students and scholars arrange housing before coming to W&M. Others first make short term housing arrangements, and then look for rentals once in Williamsburg.
What to look for in renting
- Proximity to bus line/walking distance. The green bus line makes loops around campus during the academic year. Buses in Williamsburg do not run as often as in big cities, and stops are limited, so check the schedule first to have an idea of what to expect.
- Cost. Off-campus housing rental rates are often listed by apartment/ house instead of by room. Sometimes housing is rented by room, but this should be specified in the advertisement. Off-campus housing typically starts at about $700 per month for a one bedroom apartment and around $800 per month for a two bedroom apartment, typically not including utilities or furniture
- Number of bedrooms. Single room apartments are more expensive than apartments with multiple bedrooms (when a unit is shared). Please note that in the City of Williamsburg there is a law that no more than 3 unrelated people can live in one apartment or house. This law does not apply to on-campus housing.
- Number of bathrooms. In advertisements, a “full bathroom” includes a toilet, sink, and bath or shower. A “half bath” includes a toilet and sink only.
When researching housing, ask which (if any) of these are included in the rental price.
- Utilities: Water, gas and/or electricity, internet, cable television. In many cases, no utilities (except sometimes water) are provided by the management, so you should factor these additional costs in your planning. Utilities are typically billed monthly.
- Major appliances. Most units include a stove and oven and a refrigerator, but it is important to confirm this.
- Laundry. If a washing machine and dryer are not provided, you will need to use a local Laundromat.
- Air conditioning. Williamsburg is typically very hot and humid in the summer (77F/25C or more). If central air conditioning is not included, consider asking if it is permitted for you to buy a window unit.
- Furnished/unfurnished. Most off-campus housing is rented without furniture (bed, dresser, tables, sofas, etc), but sometimes furnished housing is available.
- Off-street Parking. This sometimes carries an additional fee, if it is available. In some locations, street parking is available; a permit typically can be purchased from the City of Williamsburg. If more than one person will have a car, ask about the number of parking spaces available.
Things to know:
- Security deposit for housing. Most rentals require a deposit (typically the equivalent of 1 month’s rent) when you sign a lease. This deposit is typically in addition to that month's rent. At the end of your lease you will get this deposit back, less any fees for damages or cleaning.
- Suggestions for how to pay security deposit/sign a lease from abroad:
- Western Union money transfer: Previous students have sent money by this method along with a scanned confirmation via email.
- U.S. bank account with personal checks: Previous students have shared that most places only accept checks and no cash. They have also indicated that you can sometimes pay by credit cards, so it is useful to bring these from your home country.
- Security deposits for utilities. Most utility companies (gas, electric, internet, etc) require that you pay a deposit when initially starting them if you do not have a credit history or social security number in the U.S.
- After 1 year you should get this deposit back (typically in the form of a bill reduction).
- Deposits are typically $200 or more for each utility that you set up, so make sure that you have enough money to get started (or arrange to split the costs of deposits with your roommates).
- Setting up utilities. You will probably need to call the utility companies (or contact them online) to set up your utilities. Your landlord/manager should be able to provide you with a list of suppliers. If you will be living with roommates, you should decide who will set up each utility, and how you will divide the costs.
- How often (and how) you pay rent. Rent is typically due at the beginning of each month. Many landlords require that it be paid by check, though sometimes there are online options or other payment methods.
- Pets. Most rental housing and on-campus housing does not allow for pets, so if you plan to have a pet, check the policy in advance.
- Background checks. Some rental applications require a background check (and often a fee); these background checks sometimes require a social security number. If you do not have a social security number, contact your rental company or landlord to see what other options you have for completing the background check.
- If you prefer to come to the U.S. before you look for housing, you may want to look into short term housing options.
- Have a lease (a contract that stipulates the terms of your rental agreement), and read it before signing so you will know your obligations.
- If you’re subletting (renting from someone who is listed on a lease, without being added to the lease yourself), draw up some kind of contract.
- Breaking a lease (moving out before a lease’s end without continuing to pay rent) can cause you many difficulties, and is typically very expensive, so it is best not to do this. If you anticipate needing to leave early, you may want to consider renting month to month without a yearly contract.
- Notify your landlord or rental agency in writing (on lease is best, but by email is OK too) of any problems with your apartment when you move in and save this just in case there are later questions about this. If you do not document these, you could be charged for them when you move out.
- Take a picture of any problems you see when you move in (nail holes, dings, color on walls, problems with floors etc), and report these in writing (email is good, so you have a record) to your landlord or rental agency when you move in.
- If you request any repairs, do this in writing (such as by email), and save a copy. That way, you have documented that you requested them.
Resources for Finding Housing
- W&M Housing Center. One of W&M's main resources for local apartment searches, which includes detailed listings of current apartment openings, and also includes a room-mate search resource. Most housing offers are in Williamsburg/James City County (the county that surrounds Williamsburg).
- International Post it List Serv. Emails go out to the international community on Thursdays. Some students use this to seek housing or advertise spaces.
- Rental agencies:
- Departmental listservs and message boards (School of Education, School of Business, VIMS, etc.)—ask your department manager if these exist, and if so, to be added early.
Local Apartment Information
Many of these apartment complexes have their own website, which you can locate through online search.
|Business Name||Address||Phone||KM from Campus|
|City Lofts Apartments||1406 Richmond Rd||(757) 298-4706||2.3|
|Colonial Towne Apartments||327 Merrimac Trl. #1c||(757) 229-5518||2|
|Conway Gardens Apartments||3203 Lake Powell Rd #101||(757) 229-4432||2.3|
|Griffin Arms Apartments||515 Prince George St.||(757) 220-3735||0.3|
|Heritage Inn||1324 Richmond Rd||(757) 229-6220||1.6|
|King & Queen Apartments||732 Scotland St.||(757) 220-0000||500m|
|Lafayette Apartments||121 Lafayette Blvd.||(757) 565-4710||10|
||1310 Garrison Dr.||(757) 229-6047||2|
|Monticello at Powhatan||3500 Carriage House Way||(757) 220-0444||8|
|Olde Jamestowne||117 Old Jamestowne Ct||(757) 229-4500||6|
|Parkway Apartments||416 Merrimac Trl #5||(757) 220-2717||2|
|Regency at Longhill||5302 Lane Place Dr.||(757) 229-8886||5|
|Rolling Meadows Apartments||4906 Grand Strand Dr.||(757) 229-9629||4|
|Steeplechase Apartments||3700 W. Steeplechase Way||(757) 253-2466||5|
|Stonegate Apartments||53 Mal Mae Ct||(757) 229-0358||2.1|
|Stratford at Williamsburg||100 Stratford Rd #A||(757) 565-2200||5|
|Village of Woodshire||159 Merrimac Trl #5||(757) 229-6050||2|
|Woods of Williamsburg||110-C DeHaven Court||(757) 565-0396||6|
Advice from Graduate Students and Scholars for Selecting Housing:
- When in doubt, ask questions, and don’t make assumptions.
- Don’t be intimidated: it takes time to get used to the local surroundings.
- People are ready to help, all you need to do is ask!
- You can buy furniture and electronics here because they are relatively cheap.