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Cornell University

Housing Search Process

The Off-Campus Living Office has developed a wide range of resources, information, and checklists available on this site to help you search for and secure a comfortable living situation.

For undergraduate, graduate, and professional students: You need to determine whether on-campus or off-campus living best suits your needs. It's important to remember that Cornell University houses over half of the undergraduate housing population and about 5% of the graduate and professional student population. Beginning with first-year and transfer students arriving in fall 2021, Cornell’s new residency plan will take effect. All first- and second-year full-time students on the Ithaca campus will be required to live on campus through the spring semester of their second academic year of enrollment. If you would like to explore on-campus housing, please visit

Watch the recording of our November 6, 2020 webinar, Off-Campus Living - Creating Success. In this section you will find information to help you: 

  • prepare for your off-campus housing search—neighborhood descriptions and maps, housing selection checklists, housemate compatibility, determining your budget; 

  • carry out your search; 

  • sign your lease (and understand what you're agreeing to); 

  • move in (and out) 


Take some time before you begin your search to identify what you need and want in your living arrangement, what you can realistically afford, and what options are offered at Cornell and in the surrounding neighborhoods. A little preparation can make what feels like a daunting task much easier. Understanding yourself and your options before you search will help you find the right apartment for your needs. 

  • What do you need in your living arrangement (e.g., transportation, no smoking, air conditioning)? 

  • What do you want in your living arrangement (e.g., washer/dryer, view, pets)? 

  • What is your rental budget? 

  • Which neighborhood best suits your needs and your preferred style of living? (See neighborhood descriptions)

Use the resources in our Prepare section to answer these questions and many others. 


Take your time to explore all your options. Everything you have done to prepare for the search will assist you. Use the resources in this section to guide you. (see rental listings)

Signing the lease 

A lease is a legally binding document between you and the landlord. It is important to understand your rights and obligations before you sign a lease. Use the resources in our Signing the Lease section for more information. 

Moving-in (and out) 

Documenting the condition of the apartment when you move in and when you move out can protect you and your security deposit if questions arise about responsibility for damage or repairs. 

Use the resources in our Moving In (and Out) section to assist you.