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Berkeley, CA

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From what I've observed, it's pretty competitive in the Berkeley area (including those medical records jobs!), but there are always odd babysitting jobs around Albany. There are some slimy part-time marketing jobs — and a few okay ones. It gets easier to find work if you don't mind commuting towards San Francisco.

IIRC, working as an official/referee for Cal's intramural sports leagues can be a good way to get some exercise (depending upon the sport) and to earn some money.

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Does Berkeley have subsidized grad student housing? Aside from the co-ops? I'm thinking of trying to find something cheap for the first year if I end up there, and looking for something more permanent while my fiance and I are living in the area so that we'll have plenty of time to actually visit places.

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Does Berkeley have subsidized grad student housing? Aside from the co-ops? I'm thinking of trying to find something cheap for the first year if I end up there, and looking for something more permanent while my fiance and I are living in the area so that we'll have plenty of time to actually visit places.

Not that I know of. Coops are the cheapest housing by far. The two grad coops are great.

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Are the coops typically difficult to get into? I love how inexpensive they are and how close they are to campus, but I'm worried that if/when I decide to accept Berkeley's offer they'll be full and I'll be SOL as far as housing goes. I'd really just like to be within a reasonable walking/biking distance of campus without having to spend almost my entire stipend on rent (heck, is this even possible..?)

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Are the coops typically difficult to get into?

Yes.

If you wait to apply towards the end of admissions season (like April) you will almost certainly not get in, let alone into one of the coops you want (since there are some you almost certainly won't want).

I love how inexpensive they are and how close they are to campus, but I'm worried that if/when I decide to accept Berkeley's offer they'll be full and I'll be SOL as far as housing goes. I'd really just like to be within a reasonable walking/biking distance of campus without having to spend almost my entire stipend on rent (heck, is this even possible..?)

If you're seriously considering going, you can put a deposit in now. If you decide to not do the coop thing, you can get all but 10 dollars of it refunded (I did this last year). So if you think you're likely to come to berkeley and join a coop, I'd advise putting a deposit down now and getting yourself on the list. Worst case scenario, you go/live somewhere else and are out 10 bucks.

Also, I should say that while finding reasonably priced housing near campus is hard, it's not impossible. I pay 650 a month for a 20 minute walk to campus.

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If you're seriously considering going, you can put a deposit in now. If you decide to not do the coop thing, you can get all but 10 dollars of it refunded (I did this last year). So if you think you're likely to come to berkeley and join a coop, I'd advise putting a deposit down now and getting yourself on the list. Worst case scenario, you go/live somewhere else and are out 10 bucks.

Also, I should say that while finding reasonably priced housing near campus is hard, it's not impossible. I pay 650 a month for a 20 minute walk to campus.

Thank you, that's really reassuring to hear. I've been browsing craigslist and it seems like everything is $800-$900 just for a room! I think I will put in an application at the coops just in case. Are there any neighborhoods that you recommend I check out within walking distance/quiet environment/not too expensive?

Also, could you tell me a little bit about what graduate student life is like at Berkeley? I'll be visiting at the end of the month but I've never been to the bay area and have no idea what to expect.

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Thank you, that's really reassuring to hear. I've been browsing craigslist and it seems like everything is $800-$900 just for a room! I think I will put in an application at the coops just in case. Are there any neighborhoods that you recommend I check out within walking distance/quiet environment/not too expensive?

Well, it depends on what you're looking for. The best way to save money is to live closer to San Pablo, though that puts you 1.5 to 2 miles from campus, so not easily walkable. If you want to be within walking distance, north of campus is probably your best bet. It's more expensive than south of campus, but is much more of a graduate student area, whereas south of campus (though probably a little cheaper) is more of an undergrad area. Not saying you couldn't or shouldn't live south of campus, but that's just kind of how it seems to break down. North of University and east of MLK would be ideal, though a few blocks out from that should be fine too. I'd try to find a place in that zone.

I should mention that getting a lower price than ~900 is contingent on living with someone. I split a two bedroom apt. with one other person. Perhaps you're not looking at the "Rooms & shares" listing on craigslist, instead of "Apartments"? That will have better-priced stuff.

Some parts of Berkeley are moderately sketchy (South Berkeley on the border with Oakland mostly, and some areas west of San Pablo) as are some parts of Oakland. Once you move here and learn the area, you'll figure it out. In general North Berkeley is nicer than south, and east is nicer than west, though that's just a generalization, and most of "west" and "south" berkeley is fine.

Also, could you tell me a little bit about what graduate student life is like at Berkeley? I'll be visiting at the end of the month but I've never been to the bay area and have no idea what to expect.

Graduate student life here is quite good. It's very common to live in Berkeley your first year (which I would highly recommend) but people do tend to move out as they live here a while, usually into Oakland but sometimes into farther North Berkeley/Albany/El Cerrito or even into San Francisco (if they can somehow afford it).

The weather is amazing, there's a lot of fun stuff to do in the area (some people say that Berkeley itself can be a little boring though a) I disagree and B) it's right beside Oakland and San Francisco, so that's not a serious issue), and life as a graduate student is quite good.

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Nope, I was looking at the rooms and shares section, yikes. There are some beautiful places between $700-$900 for a room on the north side but I'm concerned that on $18k/year that might be too much, especially with utilities factored in. There's a Cal site for off campus housing, isn't there? Is that more useful or would you recommend sticking to craigslist? And is there a time when listings tend to go up for leases starting in August (probably June ish, right)?

Graduate student life here is quite good. It's very common to live in Berkeley your first year (which I would highly recommend) but people do tend to move out as they live here a while, usually into Oakland but sometimes into farther North Berkeley/Albany/El Cerrito or even into San Francisco (if they can somehow afford it).

That makes perfect sense. I don't mind commuting but the thought of doing it my first year, in a new place, just feels like too much added stress.

Thanks again for your help!

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Nope, I was looking at the rooms and shares section, yikes. There are some beautiful places between $700-$900 for a room on the north side but I'm concerned that on $18k/year that might be too much, especially with utilities factored in.

I think you could swing $700. It would be a huge chunk of your pay, no question, but the difference between $650 and $700 over the course of a year is "only" $600 dollars.

One thing you could try is contacting other people in your cohort and seeing about splitting an apartment/house. Before I found my apartment, I looked into doing this and actually didn't find it to be much cheaper, at least for renting a house even among ~5 people, but you might have better luck. It can also be a bit of a logistical pain in the ass.

My main advice would just be to keep looking. It took me a few months of moderately serious searching to find my current place, but I did eventually.

There's a Cal site for off campus housing, isn't there? Is that more useful or would you recommend sticking to craigslist?

I don't think anyone uses that thing. I was advised not to, and to just stick with craigslist.

And is there a time when listings tend to go up for leases starting in August (probably June ish, right)?

I'd say earlier. There were plenty of August listings when I was looking late last spring and through the early summer.

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Hi everyone! I was wondering if most Berkeley grad students live in Berkeley/Oakland, or if it's feasible to live in San Francisco...and if so, do many grad students live in San Francisco? Are there particular SF neighborhoods that are better/more convenient for Berkeley than others? A couple of my non-future grad student friends are moving to the Bay Area in the fall, and if I decide to go to Berkeley I was thinking of maybe living with them...

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Hi everyone! I was wondering if most Berkeley grad students live in Berkeley/Oakland, or if it's feasible to live in San Francisco...and if so, do many grad students live in San Francisco? Are there particular SF neighborhoods that are better/more convenient for Berkeley than others? A couple of my non-future grad student friends are moving to the Bay Area in the fall, and if I decide to go to Berkeley I was thinking of maybe living with them...

I know a few people doing various graduate degrees at Berkeley and living in SF (the Mission, specifically.) Anywhere near a BART station is feasible, as it's only about a 15-20 minute ride to Berkeley. The Mission is probably your best bet, as it's the most livable area in reasonable proximity to a BART station. I currently live there, and have an awesome place right by Dolores Park that I share with 2 other people for $850 each. This is extremely low for the area, and we were lucky as hell to find it, but it exists.

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Hey all! This is kind of last minute, but I'm coming to visit Berkeley this weekend and I was wondering: what are the best/your favorite things to see or do in the Bay Area, especially for someone who's never been there before?

Thanks!

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For Berkeley itself, my favorite places are Moe's Books and Top Dog. If you go nutso crazy at Moe's, you might be able to make arrangements for them to ship you your purchases.

But however you spend the weekend, check the weather forecast, and bring enough layers as the low will colder than advertised and the high will be warmer than you expect.

Have a great time!

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hi ..

I will be going to UC Berkeley this fall as a grad student... My husband will be joining me as a defendant on a F-2...We both are cyclists and plan to buy bikes to commute... Are there affordable accommodation options (< $1000 for both of us combined)? we are willing to live anywhere in a 10-12 miles radius range... The area should be safe...any suggestions are most welcome..

thanks a tonne!

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hi ..

I will be going to UC Berkeley this fall as a grad student... My husband will be joining me as a defendant on a F-2...We both are cyclists and plan to buy bikes to commute... Are there affordable accommodation options (< $1000 for both of us combined)? we are willing to live anywhere in a 10-12 miles radius range... The area should be safe...any suggestions are most welcome..

thanks a tonne!

I think you'll be OK finding a 1 bedroom apartment for 1000 if you're willing to bike a few miles. Lake Merritt/Adam's Point is an area that I think would make a lot of sense. It's bikeable to campus, much more affordable than the area near UC Berkeley, and it seems like a nice place to live.

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Does anyone know if the https://calrentals.h...g.berkeley.edu/ website is worth the money, or is it just as well to scour Craigslist?

anyone able to comment on this?

also, anyone have any comments on the jackson grad dorms?

apologies in advance if this is asking for too much, but does anyone have any recommendations for someone coming in halfway across the world?! i'd like a somewhat social living environment to meet new people and not have my circle limited to my program. how are the co-op living environments? is there a particular area of campus to avoid-- beit for crime rates or undergrad flooding? or maybe just a pretty inconvenient location?

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Hello,

As someone who went to Berkeley I think I have a little bit of insight on living accommodations.

UJS- you can also look into North Oakland. I lived on the Berkeley/Oakland border (telegraph and Alcatraz) and found it very convenient and safe. Since Telegraph is a direct link to campus and has many bus routes you can take if you don't feel like biking it was always a favorite for me. It is only about 5 miles away and you can easily find a place within your budget (you'd be surprised how little difference there is between oakland and Berkeley as far as lifestyles, but how big a difference the price is).

Carlisle- don't waste your money on cal rental. Scouring Craigslist will get you similar results. I don't know much about grad dorms, but like I said to UJS North Oakland has always been a favorite of mine. You aren't too far from the Temescal Area, Jack London Square, or downtown Berkeley which will def satisfy your social needs without being too loud. I was never a fan of co-ops since they never seemed clean enough to me, but that's just an opinion. If you live in Berkeley you will be flooded with undergrads, especially during football season, but that isn't always a bad thing. Berkeley isn't the safest of campuses since its so open, but being smart and aware of your surroundings you should be fine ( many of times I spent late nights getting home by myself and rarely felt threatened)

Hope this helps a little

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@Carlisle: BSC co-ops are a fabulous place to live, especially if your main concern is meeting new people and having easy access to an active social life outside your department. I lived in the co-ops as an undergrad and am about to move into a grad student only co-op as a PhD student. We've had a few graduate students and older undergrads (24-27ish) living in my house over the years, but I wouldn't really recommend living in the not specifically grad student houses (Hillegas Parker or Convent) if you're older and don't want to risk living with a bunch of 19-20 year olds (though I've known many people who have done it and loved it-- it really depends on what you're looking for.) The BSC apartments are also a great price for living so close to campus, and offer a bit more community than the average apartment, but no where near as much as the houses.

It's actually a bit late in the game to get on the waitlist for co-ops this fall, though you would have an advantage as an international student. If you are seriously considering this option, please PM me and I will gladly dish on all the specific houses and other pros and cons of cooperative living in Berkeley. Good luck!

P.S. IRFuture: There are 17 different houses and 3 different apartment complexes in the BSC-- while the average co-op is probably more than deserving of the cleanliness remark, there is a ton of diversity in house size, culture, etc and I guarantee there are exceptions to that general rule!

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I am going there in the Fall. Should I start looking at apartments now? Or in the summer? When do most leases start in Berkeley Area?

From what I read and heard, the north side is safer and more graduate students live there right?

Anyone know the village thing on campus? How is that?

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I am going there in the Fall. Should I start looking at apartments now? Or in the summer? When do most leases start in Berkeley Area?

From what I read and heard, the north side is safer and more graduate students live there right?

Anyone know the village thing on campus? How is that?

 

Yes, the Northside area is generally safer and more graduate students live there. All of the engineering and science buildings are on the north and northeast sides of campus, so you will also be very close to your civil engineering department. However, northside also has significantly less people walking around during both the daytime and nighttime (compared to the major hustle and bustle of Telegraph Ave and downtown Berkeley), so I would advise that you remain extra cautious when going through this area. Berkeley is home to a diverse mix of all types of people and, as IRFuture stated, the campus itself is kept very open and integrated with the city that surrounds it.

 

I don't know too much about the University Village, but I do know that there is a bus line (line 52) that will bring you directly to campus from there. You will be able to ride all AC Transit buses for free with a Class Pass sticker that you get from the student ID (Cal 1 Card) office.

 

A lot of undergraduate students (mostly freshmen who are coming out from the dorms) will look for apartments from the end of March to May, mainly because they want to secure a place before the semester officially ends in May and they'll have to head back home for summer vacation. Leases can usually start at whichever month you with, although most landlords will want you to commit to a full year of renting. My roomates and I saved some money on our apartment by avoiding the rush and contacting landlords towards the end of summer when they were getting worried about being left with remaining unrented apartments for an entire school year. We were able to negotiate $200 off by doing this. However, this plan is only plausible if you have a friend to stay with while you do the apartment hunting and if you are not too choosy with the options.

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A lot of people have cautioned against living in Oakland, and some go as far as to suggest staying clear of the area... 

Is that advice legit?

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A lot of people have cautioned against living in Oakland, and some go as far as to suggest staying clear of the area... 

Is that advice legit?

 

There are some parts of Oakland that you may want to avoid if you are new and unfamiliar to the area, but there are also really great and "safe" places to live in Oakland too! You may want to look into the following places:

North Oakland  - especially the lovely and vibrant Rockridge and Temescal districts

Oakland Hills - the air and the scenery in the secluded Oakland Hills is wonderful and they have a gorgeous park with an amphitheater (Joaquin Miller Park). The rent is quite a bit higher though.

Piedmont - this is technically it's own separate city but it's located right in the middle of Oakland and it is considered to be a very nice area.

 

Alameda  - this is a nearby island city that you can reach by simply crossing a tunnel or bridge from Oakland. Alameda is a great place to live, but it can be pricey and you may want to purchase a car. It is, of course, possible to take the bus for free (using your student ID) to the Berkeley campus, but our public transportation system is not the most efficient and most people tend to drive here in the Bay Area. The bus ride will take about an hour since you'll need to change buses once.

 

I also want to remind everyone that crime and robbery can happen anywhere in the world, even if you're in a place that is usually labeled "safe." When you're out at night, remember to always watch your surroundings, keep your iphone in your pocket, and walk purposely as if you have someone to meet and some place to be. 

 

If you are in the Berkeley area and you don't feel safe walking somewhere alone, you can call BearWALK for an escort to take you to where you need to go. After 2:00 AM, you can even catch a night shuttle that will drive you to your destiantion. More information can be found here: http://police.berkeley.edu/programsandservices/campus_safety/index.html

Edited by BellJarred

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As for staying clear of the area completely, I personally don't think you have to exercise that much caution. Oakland is home to a variety of things to see and things to do. Here are is hastily put together list:

- Oakland Museum (admission is free on the first Sunday of every month)

- Oakland Zoo (for animal lovers)

- Oakland Chinatown (super cheap groceries, authentic Chinese restaurants, and bakeries with delicious pastries)

- Lake Chabot (it's huge and it's perfect for hiking)

- Lake Chabot Golf Course (they offer golf lessons)

- Lake Merrit (you can visit the boat house and rent a kayak for 2 people or a pedal boat for 3 people for some fun exercise on the lake)

- Oracle Arena & Oakland Coliseum (people come here to watch the Oakland A's, Golden State Warriors, and Oakland Raiders. Off the top of my head, I also remember that Rihanna performed here in 2011 and that Alicia Keys is coming here next week on March 10th.)

- There are also tons of really great and highly recommended restaurants in Oakland, but you'll have to check Yelp for that information. ;)

 

Again, I want to say that you should always be careful and be smart, wherever you are. Go with a group, don't flaunt your wealth (leave valuables at home), and don't stumble around looking like you're a lost tourist (plan and search for directions before heading out).

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