Resources for Scholars: Housing

Housing Information

There are several options for visiting scholars seeking housing in the Berkeley area. You will need to contact the party yourself to make arrangements.  General information on the Bay Area housing market can be found at the Cal Rentals website.

University Housing:

  • If you are here alone and wish to stay on campus, you may be able to find a room with shared bath at the International House; however, admission into International House accommodations is competitive and housing is fairly expensive. You find out more about the program on the I-House website.

Off-campus Housing:

To find Off-campus housing in Berkeley or the surrounding areas, you will have to contact local agencies before or after your arrival in Berkeley.  Several online housing resources are listed below: 

  • UCB Housing: It is free to browse the website; however you must apply for a guest account. Go to the “Sign-up” tab and select “Guest House Hunters.” You will be asked to provide proof of you affiliation with UCB (please use your invitation letter). All housing is screened by the Cal Rentals department before it is posted.
  • Berkeley Chinese Students and Scholars Association has a guide to find housing in Chinese on their website. Go to “New Student Guide” and click on “住宿指南” and scroll to page 2 for a detailed guide. You can follow the site on WeChat at: ucbcssa
  • Visiting Scholar and Postdoc Affairs Office: Housing Resources: includes a long list of potential housing resources, though please use at your own discretion. 
  • Postdoc listserv: VSPA maintains a mailing list (it is called the postdocnet listserv, but visiting scholars and landlords also subscribe to this list). Subscribers often post ads like furniture for sale, housemates wanted, or room/apartment available. You can subscribe by sending an email with a blank subject line to In the body of the message type “subscribe postdocnet” and you will be able to start asking any questions you may have about life at Cal. After subscribing to the listserv, you can receive postings from members that include landlords or send postings by simply emailing an announcement to You may also subscribe, if you have CalNet access, to the list serv at the embedded link. 

The housing market is very tight in the Bay Area and we are not able to make any reservations on your behalf or provide housing advising.  Many landlords prefer direct contact with a tenant and space availability is usually on a “first come, first serve” basis. We highly recommend that you do not sign a lease without examining the property in person, as it is very difficult to break a lease in California. To understand your rights as a tenant in Berkeley, Albany, & Richmond please see the Berkeley Rent Board website, Tenant Services in Albany, and Richmond Rent Program.

We also suggest that you arrange short-term accommodations until you secure your more permanent housing. A complete list of local hotels and motels can be found at the Cal Rentals website.


Please see the Cal Rentals Avoiding Scams & Fraud page for more information, below is an excerpt from their website detailing some common housing scams/red flags. This is by no means an exhaustive list, please use caution and your own discretion when making housing decisions. Common red flags have included:  

  • Rent offered below market. Scammers know that innocent renters will be less cautious if they are motivated to close quickly on a deal so they don’t lose out on something too good to be true.
  • Request to wire money. Legitimate landlords do not ask renters to wire money to any account, especially an account located abroad. Nor do they ask for money by Western Union, MoneyGram or other money transfer service.
  • Request to use another listing service or escrow account to transfer money. Scammers may impersonate legitimate listings services, like AirBnB or HomeAway, or request that money is sent to an escrow account to make renters believe they are dealing with a legitimate entity.
  • Claim of affiliation with us. Scammers may impersonate our site to make it seem like we participate in the lease transaction or transfer of funds. We do not participate in any transactions between landlords and renters, and we will never ask you for money to use our site or any of our services
  • Dramatic landlord story. The landlord has received a job assignment abroad and must rent the unit ASAP. You are invited to drive by the building, but no one can show it to you because everyone is already living abroad. And you need to commit in the next 24 hours because dozens of people are waiting to sign the lease. A legitimate landlord will meet you in person and allow you to tour the property before asking for a deposit to secure the rental.
  • Can’t or won’t meet in person. For whatever reason, the landlord/agent refuses to meet you in person at the property. They may even send you an access code to unlock an electronic lockbox to gain entry by yourself to the house, condo or apartment you are looking to rent.