SBSA Housing Information

This page provides opinions on various graduate housing options gathered through an anonymous survey. It is meant to supplement Stanford's RD&E Student Housing site with information specific to incoming Biosciences students.

While there are many housing options, only those with submissions are shown here. Visit the Student Housing site for a full list.

About Housing at Stanford

Sticker shock

Housing is expensive here. Why? Essentially, there are a lot of people with a lot of money here, and a limited supply of housing options. The tech industry is booming, and the standard salaries for most employees are $80k and upwards, so the base salary of other applicants for apartments in the area is quite high. In addition to high salaries, there are many people who have enormous additional income from investments and stock from companies before they were publicly traded. Also, Bay Area real estate is viewed as a "safe investment" from people abroad, so many foreigners will pay full cash price up-front for residential property. These cash offers often out-compete Bay Area residents who would otherwise buy these houses and properties, so those people continue to rent. Additionally, due to some very vocal community advocates who oppose new housing developments, the population growth along the whole peninsula has dramatically outpaced the supply of new housing. What this means for you: Housing is very expensive, and very competitive.


Apply for on campus or off campus housing

Unlike many peer institutions, Stanford has numerous and affordable campus housing options and it is a popular choice among graduate students. All housing are apartments, commonly studios or 2-4 bedrooms, and equipped a full kitchen and bathroom (not at all like undergrad dorms!). They come fully furnished, but it’s possible to easily disassemble the bed it comes with to use your own, and to add additional furniture. All incoming students are guaranteed housing their first year if they check the "live anywhere" box on the application. You can apply with a roommate, or Stanford will assign you a roommate. The prices are cheaper than you will find anywhere in the neighborhoods surrounding Stanford.

There are some off-campus apartments Stanford contracts through, but it is all through one Stanford-operated application process. With the completion of the construction of Escondido Village Graduate Residences (EVGR), Stanford’s newest on-campus building, off-campus housing is expected to be phased out. Preference for off-campus housing is given to returning students already residing in off-campus housing.


Family housing: what if I have a spouse or partner and/ or children?

Stanford also has housing options if you have a significant other and/ or children. If your significant other is not affiliated with Stanford, you are both still eligible to apply for this option. Many of the designated couples and family housing units are in Escondido Village. If you have children, there are separate move-in dates for you that coordinate with local school schedules. Stanford is working to increase the number of units available to couples without children but currently there are not enough units to meet demand so you should plan for the possibility of being assigned to subsidized off campus housing. For couples with children there is sufficient space and you can expect to be assigned to on campus housing within a courtyard. Please note, however, that a change in relationship or family status does not change your priority with respect to housing. Therefore if you lose your priority status by choosing to live off campus when you arrive you will not have guaranteed housing even if you have children or change your relationship status.

Family housing on Stanford campus is one of the highlights of graduate school for most students with children. The housing is setup to provide a safe and fun play area for children and to foster a community among families. Housing surrounds a gated courtyard with a playground and grassy area where children play throughout the day. Most children find plenty of playmates their age and the diversity of families living here results in a strong support network for student families. There are a good number of families with stay at home parents as well as nannies so children are playing in the courtyard all day long and, because there are usually many families out, parents and nannies have someone to chat with while watching their children. Make sure you meet your community associate (CA) soon after moving in so that you can get connected into the community.



As soon as you are accepted as a new student at Stanford and decide to attend, fill out the housing application through Axess. Housing selection is a lottery for ALL graduate students after the application date.

This year the deadline was June 10, 2020

Useful links:


Have roommates

The price of a studio or 1 bedroom, whether it's on campus or off campus, comes with a $$$ premium. Living with at least one other roommate dramatically reduces your rent and utilities costs. Stanford will assign a roommate to you through campus housing, but if you have someone in mind and you follow all the application instructions, you can choose your roommate. Most Stanford graduate students are pretty great, and make wonderful roommates. Even with roommates through campus housing, your contract is only for you. Your rent payments and housing status are unaffected by any personal or financial decisions your roommate makes. Outside of Stanford, there are many young working professionals who are open to having a Stanford grad student as a roommate.

For some unknown reason, Stanford will not tell you who your roommate is, meaning you cannot contact them before you get there. If you need to do any shopping for kitchen or communal items, consider waiting until you arrive in case your roommate already has some items. If you choose to apply with a specific roommate (or group of roommates), you can apply for gender-neutral housing if the group is made up of different genders. You will need to coordinate with your group so that your housing application lists the same housing preferences in the same order, as you will all be assigned the same lottery number.


Living off-campus: how to find housing

If you elect to live off campus, Craigslist, Zillow, Padmapper, and SUpost (Stanford-affiliated version of Craigslist) are good places to start your search. Many departments have listservs where it is common for people to inquire about housing wanted and housing offered. Additionally, there is a single listserv for bioscience students in all of the home programs.

The time frame for off campus availability and move-in dates fluctuates wildly. Many apartment complex will not hold housing for which you’ve been approved for longer than a few weeks, which can make it difficult to plan months in advance. Summer and early fall is also generally when housing prices are at a peak. A common alternative is to sublet an open room in a house or apartment with an ongoing lease. While this option can offer much more flexibility depending on availability, it is advised to be prudent about the legality and liability of any particular scenario. If the option to sign a formal written lease with consent of the management company is not made available to you, that’s a red flag that something sketchy might be happening which could leave you vulnerable to potentially expensive and inconvenient legal liabilities. Rent at your own risk.


Living off-campus: transportation options

If you elect to live off campus and outside of comfortable biking range, try to look for a place near the Caltrain line. Caltrain is the main form of public transportation on the peninsula (Bart runs along the East Bay). Stanford offers STEEPLY discounted caltrain passes to students who live off campus. You can bring your bike on the Caltrain, and there is also a free shuttle system called the Margeurite that circulates between the Palo Alto Caltrain station and the Stanford campus.


Statement of support letter from your department

Although your stipend may seem meager, your full support package is quite impressive. Stanford is paying full tuition, fees, and health insurance for you, which totals to about $80 - 90,000. When you apply for an apartment, they will often ask for proof that your income is 3x the monthly rent. Many landlords and rental companies don't "get" what being a graduate student means, where your money comes from, and where it goes. You can request a "letter of support" from your department that details your full compensation package, which will increase your chances of your application being accepted.


Credit score

It is common for landlords and rental companies to run a credit check with your application. Do everything you can to improve your credit score (e.g. refinance your student loan payments favorably, reduce your credit card debt, request an increase in your credit limit).

Remember, you are able to get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months:



Pets are fuzzy and adorable, but they can make finding an apartment a huge pain. Stanford campus housing does not allow pets at all (with the exception of service animals). Although it is possible to find off campus housing where pets are allowed, there are additional monetary premiums you will pay. Monthly rent tends to be higher for places that allow pets, and there are additional cleaning/ damage deposits required. They can also limit your potential roommate pool because many people are allergic. In addition to the other costs of pet ownership (food, toys, treats, additional cleaning, vet bills, and time), please take the time to consider as to whether pet ownership would fit into your lifestyle as a graduate student.