Housing Overview

International students and scholars have several options with respect to long-term accommodations. New students and scholars will need temporary housing for their first few days at Penn, see below. After this initial period students and scholars can pursue either On-Campus or Off-Campus housing. Most undergraduate, and almost all first-year students, live in university residences. Some graduate students and scholars live on campus in graduate residence halls, while others rent apartments off campus. Details about all these housing options are below. 

Temporary Housing

Accommodations are in high demand in late August and early September each year, so it is advisable to reserve early. Temporary accommodations may be found at one of the places listed below or at one of the various bed and breakfast establishments in the area.

Housing for the Academic Year

Freshman year undergraduate students must live in University residences the first year. The great majority of other students are able to choose where they want to live. Some choose to live in University residences (on-campus); others choose to live in non-University affiliated housing located in the neighborhoods that surround the campus (off-campus). There are a variety of factors to consider when making the choice of where to live: proximity to campus, costs, security, personal and family lifestyles, and transportation. Both on-campus and off-campus housing can be difficult to obtain in the few days just before the beginning of the semester.

  • On-Campus Housing
  • On-campus housing is limited and not always available. On-campus housing choices include single, double and triple rooms, as well as one to four bedroom apartments. Single students and married couples can be accommodated, unfortunately children cannot be accommodated. On-campus housing options include furnished residences close to campus in a reasonably secure environment. Individuals new to Philadelphia and the University often prefer to spend the first year in University housing. All rooms and apartments are furnished, but the occupant will have to provide sheets and towels and the necessary kitchen utensils. Prices vary according to the type of accommodation and are subject to yearly increases.  Note that some buildings close during the University's winter break in December and January.

    Applications for on-campus housing should be submitted well in advance of arrival at Penn. Housing cannot be assured without written notification from the Assignments Office. One must sign a lease agreement to obtain on-campus housing. Signing this agreement obligates the occupant to pay rent for the full term of the lease unless he or she withdraws from Penn.

  • Off-Campus Housing
  • Within the University City area housing varies greatly in price, convenience, location, condition, and type of accommodation. In selecting off-campus housing, one must consider all these factors and be certain that the housing is secure. Prices in the Center City areas are typically higher than in West Philadelphia.

    Sharing a house or apartment with other students or renting a room in a house are common ways of economizing on housing costs. Single rooms are sometimes furnished. Efficiency, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments include kitchen facilities but most often are not furnished. Tenants often assume responsibility for payment of all utilities (electricity, gas, phone) except water. Tenants must be prepared to pay three months of rent (security deposit, and first and last month's rent) when they sign leases for off-campus housing. The payment must be made by check or money order, not credit card. By signing a lease agreement, the tenant is obligated to pay rent for the full term of the lease, regardless of his or her academic status at Penn. Off-campus lease agreements typically cover periods of one year.

    The Penn Office of Off-Campus Services can help both with housing searches and with understanding one’s rights and responsibilities as a tenant. This office can provide detailed information about where students live, prices per unit type and area, when to start a search and how to go about it.

  • International House
  • Housing for international and American students and scholars is also available at the International House of Philadelphia. International House is considered off-campus housing but it is located within easy access to the University.  International House is an independent, non-university facility that serves as a residence and programming center for the international community in Philadelphia. A variety of bedroom and apartment types are available, however, International House cannot accommodate children. Students and scholars who are not residents of International House can still participate in many of the activities, concerts, films, and lectures it sponsors.