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Officially accepted an offer to come do my PhD with Stanford Biosciences - Now I'm trying to sort out the grad housing situation. 

We toured a few options when I interviewed but I would love to get some perspective on the differences in environment for the different buildings/areas from current students and/or other incoming students more familiar with the housing sitch.It seems like most people live on the EV side of things (versus Lyman, which seems nice but kind of isolated).

In EV itself;

How social are different buildings? How much does this vary for the high-rise options versus the low-rise options?

If I opt to live in a studio (and spend way too much money) will I be totally isolated or is there some level of socialization even in the studio-only buildings?

What are the best options for groceries (particularly without a car)?

Do people generally relocate after their first year (to live with new friends, move to a better option, etc.)?

What would you say is the best bang-for-your-buck in terms of housing?

Edited by DevoLevo
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@DevoLevo Going there next year for an M.S., and I'd say go for the studio apartment if you can get it for $1200 a month. The cheapest option I've seen, housing-wise, was $872 a month. Personally, I find this insane. I've spoked to PhD students at my current university (UCI), and they're only paying $600 a month (for accommodations similar to the $1200 a month options).

If your goal is to meet people via your housing situation; however, I'd say go for a three/four-room apartment and hope your housemates are gregarious. Unless you are constantly knocking on doors to invite people to parties at your place, it is unlikely you will get acquainted with your neighbours.

The Escondido South four-bedroom apartments (for $872 a month) are the best option I've viewed seen on the residential website. I doubt that the general socialness will vary greatly between different buildings in EV.


Note: The information I'm giving is not based on prior experience with the university. I am simply relaying what I've discovered during my undergrad years of testing out various housing options (on campus, off campus, commuting from family home).

In terms of getting the best bang-for-your-buck, you could just do what I'm doing for my M.S. next year: Buy a used maintenance van and prepare it for vanlife. This housing option will come out to about $50 a month (assuming I resell the van).


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1-2) I live in one of the EV studios. I don't participate, but I know they have a lot of events, and they seem popular. I think if you are outgoing and want to build relationships with people in your housing community, you can. Personally, having lived on my own for years, the thought of having a roommate is horrifying, even though I would love to be able to save the money. But you may feel different, and it certainly is easier to get plugged in that way. People that choose to live in the studios are also more likely to be less outgoing or otherwise wanting no distractions while focused on their work, so you might want to consider that.

3) Groceries: there is a newish market just a few minutes walk from the Northeast corner of EV. Not large, but that have pretty good produce options, and reasonably priced. I haven't seen many customers in there, so hopefully they stay open, as there was a very short-lived market in that local the previous year. On campus there is Munger Market that is really convenient for simple stuff, but they don't have a ton. More substantially, within walking distance there is Mollie Stone's on Cal Ave, about 25 minutes from the center of EV, and a little pricey. There is a Trader Joe's in the Town & Country Village, also about a 25 minute walk. You can also reach it via the X line of Stanford free bus service. There is a Whole Foods downtown, which you can get within a few minutes walk of with the X. There are two Safeways by Stanford bus. There is one on Sand Hill Road that you can reach via the SLAC line, but that bus only runs on weekdays from the center of campus. More useful is the Safeway in San Antonio Center in Mountain View, with the Shopping Express goes to. The Shopping Express runs afternoon and evenings on Weekdays, and all day during Weekends (one of the only lines that runs on the weekend or holidays).

If you are living on campus without a car, you can also get a free Zipcar membership. They have a lot of Zipcars on campus, and some are only about $5/hr, so that is also a faster option for getting groceries.

4) I don't know how it is with the students in Biosciences, but most humanities PhD students who live on campus at all seem to generally stay for their first three years. It's hard to find a cheaper place to live without a horrible commute (welcome to Silicon Valley), so if you have to be on campus everyday, it really makes more sense to stay.

Currently, if you move off campus it can be hard to get back on, as you no will no longer have a housing guarantee. They have a lot of new housing opening in a couple of years, though, so this may change.

5) What is the best bang-for-your-buck really depends on what is important to you. If you don't mind having roommates, then by all means save a bunch of money and have roommates. If you just want the nicest housing experience regardless of cost, then Munger is for you. If being closest to Biosciences is most important, then probably Oak Creek is your top choice.

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  • 1 year later...

@rd12 @Zanelol Have you heard of any accepted PhD students negotiating with their department for priority in the housing lottery? Is that a thing at all? If there is any wiggle room, I am going to try to negotiate for it. At age 30, I really can't imagine living with roommates.

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@wookie55 Wow, I haven't posted on here since before I started my Master's. Now I'm almost done. Crazy how time flies.
I haven't hears of anyone negotiating something like that. I know there are houses on campus geared toward families so maybe you could request one of those if you're willing to spend a little more. Most of the grad students (PhD or Master's) had roommates though (if by roommates, you mean people living in the same apartment but in different rooms). For your own apartment you may need to get something off-campus. I haven't seen too many apartment complexes near campus (besides the Stanford ones) so I'd assume you'd have to live in Mountain View or San Jose.

I will also say that I haven't heard of anyone getting bad roommates because most people are pretty studious and keep to themselves (except for maybe the Law students). So even if you had to live with others, you likely wouldn't have to interact with them too much if you don't want to.

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@Zanelol  OK good to know - Thanks for this! and shoot, I actually went ahead and reached out to my advisor about it (politely!). If it doesn't go anywhere, I will take it seriously that it just isn't a thing (and that they aren't just declining to negotiate). I have definitely heard of housing priority being a bargaining chip at other universities, but I guess the lottery system was maybe instituted to eliminate the possibility of this kind of negotiation..? Who knows.

That's really good to hear about people having good roommates. It makes sense that people would be studious, for sure. I think if it was 1 roommate, I could manage that. But there are some studios that seem really nice on campus! EV, I think? They rent for $1700 which would be at the top end of what I would spend. 

It's really comforting what you've said here. Sounds like it wouldn't be the end of the world to end up in a shared apartment :)

Edited by wookie55
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