Identifying housing in Ithaca for your tryst with Cornell goes much further than merely finding some place to live. You will call this dwelling "home" for the next several months to come and it is important that you find a place that meets your needs and makes you comfortable. Depending on the value you place on comfort and cost, the options are many.

Points to consider in selecting your residence

  • Proximity to your college/ department: this decision is influenced on your propensity to walk/ take public transport etc. (I should add that my room mate benefited greatly from the ambulatory proximity since he almost always missed the bus!)

  • Proximity to malls and shopping centers: The major malls are well connected by the bus network. All your shopping needs from underwear to taxidermy can be met by various shopping centers including Target, Walmart, Wegman's, Tops, Sears, K-mart etc.

  • Proximity to restaurants, bars, barber shops!, bagel shop, undergrad hang out spots. (Yes, I am referring to Collegetown!)

  • Availability and frequency of buses: http://www.tcatbus.com/ is your one stop source for all information on bus services in Ithaca. You can use it to determine the various routes that have stops near your house. Make sure to look at the frequenices of the various routes as well. Until you buy a car you'll mostly rely on the bus service, at least for some of your local travel. Thankfully, Cornell provides you a free bus pass for your first year.

  • Parking space; cost of parking: Parking on campus is expensive and often unavailable till 5pm. Free and easily available after that. Sometimes students park their vehicles at the mall and get a bus from there.

  • Type & duration of lease; policies regarding subletting, pets, etc

  • Whether heating & electricity are factored into the rent (can be quite expensive in winter - and that's around 5 months of the year!)

It is a good idea to look at the Cornell campus map and identify an area (or areas) that you may be interested in.

Some useful tidbits

On-campus housing

For the most part, graduate students live off-campus since it is often more economical and efficient. This link gives an overview of campus housing. Depending on your department and lifestyle, sometimes campus housing may work out better (example, Hasbrouck is close to North campus, has frequent buses, is close to the mall and is ideal for families and couples). Details are available in the website.

Off-campus housing

Most graduate students choose their housing based on proximity to their department. The campus is essentially divided into north, main (central), east and west, and there's downtown Ithaca which is not very far distancewise but is a steep downward walk from campus. Most of the estimates of rent listed below are for shared housing. If you are looking for a single bedroom apartment or a studio it would cost over $100-$200 more.

Law students normally prefer to stay somewhere in Collegetown as it is a 5-10 min walk. Rent can be steep since Collegetown is considered "hot" property. The rent could be anywhere more than $600 per month per person with utilities included in most cases. Parking can be up to $100 a month.

Residential complexes in north campus include Highland Apartments ( Rent for a 3-bedroom apt. is around $500-530 per month per person with utilities included,10 min walk to the main campus. excellent place for people in chemistry, physics, and textiles department), Lakeland apartments ($600-$650 per month per person, 15 min walk. Close to highland apartments.) Good bus network. The Villager is across from Lakeland and is slightly cheaper.

The east campus has Maple Hill (3-4 bedroom; $350-$400 per month per person; mostly for engineers especially people in comp.engg.; tough to get in first year as it is full because of the low prices; a bit far away for non-engineers).

Summer Hill apartments (2-3 bedroom apartments) and Plaza East apartments (3 - bedroom apartments) both of which are located near East Hill Plaza are strategically located next to the mall but are unlikely to be furnished. These housing complexes are a bit remote from Main Campus but there is a bus stop nearby.

On the west campus you mostly have on-campus housing. One off-campus housing complex is on Stewart Avenue (2- bedroom apartments for around 450-500$ per month per person with utilities included)

Other areas include Fall Creek which is also on north campus. The rent will be around $500-$530 per month per person with utilities. Downtown area (not exactly walking distance...) is generally an area where mostly "Ithacans" live. Once again the price could be around $500 per person per month. Has its advantages in that it is close to the 'Commons' which has a bit of activity, and is closer to Walmart and Wegmans (grocery stores), and is well served by the bus network.

This link below has a listing of rental options off campus.


Read the lease carefully. Lookout for hidden costs. (Some rental agencies for instance include a clause wherein you should clean the carpets; shampooing the carpets can cost up to $100 for a 2-bedroom apartment)

They usually require a deposit in addition to the 1st and last month's rent. $1500 is a safe estimate for that.

Find out whether it is furnished, and if not, what you might need to buy. At this point I should add that there will be loads of inexpensive goods for sale from outgoing students, and you can find the ads in the international students' mailing list. Don't rush out and buy everything in a hurry. (You can get a TV for under $20; microwave for less....)

Needless to say, the information here is based only on our personal experiences; there may be some great deals and ideas that we may not have covered, so please look around and don't take our word too literally.

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