Housing for Visiting International Students
You are responsible for finding your own housing. You can arrange to live off-campus in an Apartment, Private Residence Hall (dormitory), or a Co-op. Space permitting, you can apply for on-campus housing in a University Residence Hall/Apartment or Short Course Dormitory (campus run dormitory).
Temporary Housing upon Arrival in Madison
If you arrive in Madison and are still looking for permanent housing or if you are not yet able to move into your housing, there are some temporary housing options available to you.
Madison Friends of International Students (MFIS) offers free temporary housing with breakfast for up to three nights through their system of community volunteers. Because MFIS housing is limited, we recommend that you do not use this service if you already have a place to stay when you arrive. You may not know of your temporary housing contact until a week or less prior to your arrival. If you have not heard from MFIS three days before your departure date, please contact them directly.
Other temporary housing options include:
Campus temporary housing
Tips for your housing search
- Furnished Apartments. Your housing should be listed as "furnished" or "semi-furnished," which generally means that there will be enough furniture provided for you to use while you are there. This generally includes a bed, desk, lamp, and chair(s). Check with your landlord before signing any lease to find out what is included. You may be held responsible for any furnished items when you check out of the apartment, so take care not to damage them.
- Renter's Insurance. Consider purchasing renter's insurance for your time here in the US. It is available from numerous insurance companies; renter's insurance policies are inexpensive and can cover personal items in cases of fire, theft or other disasters.
- Location. We suggest you limit your search to map sections 1 through 6 and section 9 (see map below). You will receive a free bus pass while enrolled as a VISP student, but most students do prefer to live relatively close to campus.
Although apartments in Madison are in ample supply, most apartments must be rented for 12 months. The options listed below are popular among exchange students because they are located a short walk from campus and are generally available on a semester or academic year basis.
Apartment Search Engines
There are many online search engines that you can use to search apartment vacancies and roommate postings. The following is a list of some of the more popular ones for our area.
- Campus Area Housing Listing Service
- Madison Campus and Downtown Living
- Madison Property Management
- Mullins Apartments
- Craig's List
Craig's List is an online listing tool that can be useful in finding housing, roommates, and subletting opportunities (see subletting section below). Various options are listed under the "Housing" section of the Madison Area Craig's List. Craig's List does not verify the accuracy of postings, so please exercise caution when dealing with private individuals.
Oodle is a listing service similar to Craig's List where you can find apartment vacancies, roommate listings, and subletting opportunities(see subletting section below). As with Craig's List, Madison Oodle does not verify the accuracy of postings, so please exercise caution when dealing with private individuals.
Spring Semester: Subletting / Subleasing
More apartments are available for spring-only rental than fall-only because many UW students study abroad during spring or graduate in December, vacating their apartments. If you come to UW-Madison during the spring, you have a very good chance of finding a 5-month “sublease” or “sublet.” This means that you will rent the apartment from another student for 5 months or longer. You can find subletting listings on many of the Apartment Search Engines listed above.
Co-ops provide low-cost housing with the expectation that you share in household chores like cooking and cleaning. Each of the co-op houses has their own process for choosing members. Call the house you are interested in and ask for the membership coordinator. S/he can tell you if there are any openings; whether the house allows pets or smoking; serves meat or vegetarian only meals; and can arrange for you to tour the house and meet the residents. Every house has its own personality; you may want to visit several to find one that fits your style.
University Residence Halls(Dormitories)
UW-Madison has three types of residence halls: undergraduate, graduate, or the short course dorms. Further information about university housing is on the University Housing website or the Short Course Dormitory website. Rates for an academic year are announced each July.
If you sign a contract for university housing, you are committed to the cost of the room for the full academic year. If you leave Madison after fall semester, you will lose the security deposit (currently $300) required by University Housing. This will release you from the contract after fall semester and exempt you from paying for spring semester. There are no exceptions to this policy.
Undergraduate Residence Halls
In undergraduate housing, halls consist primarily of double rooms with each floor having a large shared bathroom, designated by gender. Bathrooms have individual shower stalls. Most students are assigned a roommate. The majority of students who live in the residence halls are 18-20 years old. Rooms include a bed, dresser, desk, bookshelf, chair, lamp, and closet space for each resident, and a shared refrigerator. Sheets, mattress pad, blanket, pillow, and pillowcase are provided. You will eat in one of several styles of dining facilities located throughout the campus. You make food purchases through UW-Madison meal accounts a debit account that is accessed through your UW-Madison student ID card. Each person chooses which foods and how much to eat, and pays per item. There is no meal plan.
Short Course Dormitories
Another on-campus living option are the Short Course Dormitories. Run by the Farm & Industry Short Course program, the application process and availabilities differ from the traditional undergraduate residence halls. Students studying any academic discipline are welcome in this housing option.
The International Learning Community (ILC)
The International Learning Community housing offers you opportunities to make friends from the United States and around the world and to interact with faculty, staff, and students who share your interest in learning about different cultures. The ILC is dedicated to enhancing cross-cultural understanding. The ILC living experience attracts students who are planning to study or returning from studying abroad; international and exchange students; students studying foreign languages; and students interested in world affairs.
Graduate Halls/University Apartments
In graduate housing you may choose to have your own bedroom or to share a room with a roommate. You will share a kitchen and bathroom with other students who live on your floor. A meal plan is not available. Many graduate apartments are unfurnished, so you would need to purchase furniture and housewares.
Private Residence Halls (Dormitories)
In addition to university-run residence halls, Madison is also home to a number of Private Housing Connections (PHC) residence halls. You can read more about them on the Campus Area Housing website.