Not sure where to start? Get all the details about off-campus living from student apartment communities and sample contracts to packing lists and budgeting in our annual Guide to Off-Campus Living [pdf]. Or, if you're a graduate student, get a leg-up on your home search with our Graduate Student FAQ [pdf].
Basics and Planning
Freshman Year On-Campus Requirement
All freshmen must live on campus the first full academic year. You can file an appeal to live off campus if you have special circumstances or if you live locally. Contact University Housing at 803-777-4283 for more information.
Finding a Roommate
Visit the message board if you'd like to connect to potential roommates. There you'll find posts from students who have a room and need a roommate or students who need both a roommate and a place to live.
Many student apartment communities offer roommate matching as a service. Contact an individual community to see if they can connect you.
Most apartments require a 12-month lease; however, some apartment communities offer shorter-term leases.
These student-oriented apartment communities will consider short-term leases (when available):
- Stadium Suites
- The Southern @ 1051
- Rivers Edge at Carolina Stadium
- The Lofts at USC
- Pulaski Square
- Station at Five Points
- Cayce Cove
These apartment communities also will consider shorter-term leases:
- Creekside at Greenlawn Apartments
- The Shores at Elders Pond
- Cornell Arms Apartments
- Atrium Place Apartments
- Abberly Village Apartments
- The Tremont
Some apartment communities allow residents to find someone to take over the remaining time in their lease. Please check with apartment community lease transfer and sublease policies if you are considering this option, as many apartments charge a lease transfer fee. Many students advertise and find subleases on the USC student message board.
Usually, you'll be required to have an income of at least three times your monthly rent or to have a co-signer who meets that requirement on your behalf. Your co-signer (or guarantor) can be a parent, guardian or trusted adult. Your co-signer must be willing to cover payments and fees if you are unable to.
Rent and Expenses
Rent in Columbia and surrounding areas varies greatly. Often, the closer you live to campus, the higher the rent will be. Some rental fees include household expenses such as utilities, high-speed internet and lawn care while others include nothing beyond housing. When looking for a place, clarify what the rent payment covers and estimate your monthly expenses for anything that's not covered.
View an estimate of cost to attend as an off-campus student.
Paying with Financial Aid or 529B Funds
You may use financial aid to pay for housing. After tuition and fees are paid, any remaining balance will be reimbursed to you. It is then your responsibility to manage that sum and pay your bills each month.
Students should be prepared to cover first month’s rent, any up-front fees, and security deposits out of their own pocket, just in case these are due before the financial aid refund is received. For more information, please visit Student Financial Aid.
If you'd like to pay with 529B funds, you'll need to first contact the carrier you set up the plan with to determine if housing is an eligible expense. Every 529 plan is different.
Storage Near Campus
Though we don’t recommend a specific storage provider, these are frequently used by students and close to campus:
Public Storage at Rosewood
0.9 miles from campus
1305 Rosewood Drive, Columbia, SC 29201
800-688-8057 or 803-200-2868
Public Storage at Knox Abbott
1.32 miles from campus
540 Knox Abbott Drive, Cayce, SC 29033
800-688-8057 or 803-470-0577
Rosewood Self Storage
1.4 miles from campus
410 Superior Street, Columbia, SC 29205
U-Haul Moving and Storage at Elmwood
1.6 miles from campus
1037 Elmwood Avenue, Columbia, SC 29201
These are a few furniture rental companies that are popular with USC students:
Furniture Rentals Inc.
7.2 miles from campus
110 Metal Park Drive, Columbia, SC 29209
Furniture Services, Inc.
620 Spears Creek Road, Elgin, SC
CORT Furniture Rental
89.7 miles from campus
2033 Sirona Drive, Charlotte, NC 28273
Moving In and Out
Follow these tips to make moving in as seamless as possible.
2 Months in Advance
- Create a folder for important documents
- Purchase renter’s insurance
- Make arrangements with a moving service/truck if necessary
1 Month in Advance
- Get packing supplies (boxes, tape, labels, etc.)
- Schedule utility connections
- Fill out a change of address form online or at a local post office (usps.com)
2 Weeks in Advance
- Make a checklist of all the items you are moving to ensure you don’t forget anything
- Secure friends to help you move
- Update your local address with USC on Self-Service Carolina
1 Week in Advance
- Pack your essential items in an easily accessible bag
- Confirm the exact time and date of your move with your landlord
- Consider purchasing cleaning supplies to thoroughly clean your unit before unpacking everything
- Meet your landlord and get your keys
- Introduce yourself to your neighbors
- Take time-stamped photos of anything damaged, hazardous or in need of repair. Columbia
has minimum standards that properties must meet.
Personally check for the following before moving in:
- At least one window that opens per room
- All electrical fixtures and smoke detectors are working
- Free of rodents and bugs
- All appliances and heat systems work
- All plumbing fixtures are free of leaks and in sanitary and safe working condition
- All doors can be opened and closed
- All locks work
- Ceilings and walls are free of holes
- The unit is clean
- Free of mold and water damage
Following these tips will help protect you from unsafe living conditions and help you avoid being held responsible for pre-existing damages.
If any of the above listed conditions is unmet, take pictures and immediately provide your landlord with a detailed description and pictures of the problems.
If your landlord is unwilling to fix the problems, set up an appointment with Student Legal Services to discuss your rights as a renter.
To Request an Inspection
Contact Columbia Housing Inspection at 803-545-3430 (if you live in the City of Columbia) to request an inspection. If you live outside the city of Columbia, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Follow these tips for a smooth move out experience:
- Remove all of your belongings and clean the property thoroughly.
- Take photos of the condition you are leaving it in.
- Donate gently used furniture and household items. Most local thrift shops accept drop-off donations including:
- You also can schedule a donation pick-up from organizations such as:
- Many students also sell items on:
- Place all trash and recycling on the curb for pickup. If you have large bulk trash (appliances, furniture, etc.), it can most likely be picked up the same day as curbside trash pick-up. Find out your trash pick-up schedule as well as waste disposal suggestions.
- Call and have utilities (water, electricity, gas, cable, internet) taken out of your name.
- Return your keys to your landlord.
- Provide your landlord with a forwarding address to send your returned security deposit,
Security deposits must be returned within 30 days of moving out or you asking for your deposit back, whichever is later. If you do not receive any or some of your deposit back, the landlord must provide you with a list explaining the damages.
If you believe your deposit has been unjustly withheld, set up an appointment with Student Legal Services to discuss the situation and your rights.