Gwendolyn Wu
Executive Content Editor

The first week of winter quarter is supposed to be stress-free. Although syllabus week ends about 20 minutes into class and clubs haven’t started meeting yet, week one of the new quarter is generally the least busy.

What does get stressful, though, is searching for housing. It’s a frenzy both on- and off-campus during this week as students apply to become resident assistants, figure out if they want to keep their current housing arrangements in the dorms, or partake in the Great Isla Vista Scramble for Housing.

Although many coveted houses and apartments on Del Playa are definitely reserved or rented out by this point, there are still cool houses and fair landlords to consider in the area. Some folks liken Isla Vista to a slum, but the truth is that if you’re smart about finding a place and willing to work hard to find a housing situation that suits you, it doesn’t have to be.

  1. Think small.

You might have heard nightmare stories about large rental companies in Isla Vista, and while we can’t independently verify each and every one due to confidentiality clauses, we do know there are alternatives out there. Many small rental companies in the area are able to concentrate on the well-beings of each and every one of their properties, which make some students feel as if they’re able to build a better rapport with the property owners.

From my experiences renting with a landlord who only owned one property in Isla Vista and a second company that owned just over a dozen properties, this has been the way to go. There were no application fees for either, and according to other small companies’ websites, few have them. Both were very quick in sending out maintenance when requested. You might run into a problem with some smaller groups requesting paper checks over an online payment service, though — and checkbooks aren’t very popular nowadays.

  1. Live farther, live cheaper.

Feeling tight on money? Consider moving out to Goleta! The rent is cheaper for many doubles there (think anywhere from $500 to $700, with better amenities), and if you’re looking for a house over an apartment, there are plenty in the area. For students looking to get away from the hustle and bustle and get a good night’s sleep on the weekends, the area bordering UCSB to the north is pretty peaceful once you get past the airport.

The 6, 11, and 12x all service parts of Goleta along Hollister, so you don’t have an excuse to miss classes. If you have a car, you’ll probably have better luck finding a driveway, private parking, or street parking in that area. The same can be said for downtown Santa Barbara.

  1. Utilize campus resources.

Did you know that you pay $2.47 a quarter to fund the Isla Vista Tenants Union, and $1.94 a quarter to fund the A.S. Legal Resource Center? Both of these organizations can be found at the Pardall Center, and help with some housing disputes. Whether it’s unfair evictions or trying to figure out if what your landlord is doing is legal, both entities can point you in the right direction.

That same Pardall Center also operates a website that lists every single company that rents out property in the greater Santa Barbara area. This could be useful if the companies you approach have run out of space by this time.

Another campus resource is the Community Housing Office. The CHO offers videotaping services for move-in and move-out at a low fee, which are vital when trying to get a full security deposit back. Their website also lists postings for subleasers and roommate searches for no fee. They can also read over leases before you sign them.

  1. Get everything in writing.

While we’re on the topic of documentation, record and write everything. You can’t just use a he-said, she-said verbal conversation if you ever have to take something to court, or prove it to your company. If you have something in writing from your landlord or rental company, it’s much harder to deny that it happened.

You can also record conversations, but you must get the permission of every single party involved. Any recording without permission can’t be used, per California legal code. It doesn’t hurt to keep recordings or written documents for a few years, just to reference in case a class-action lawsuit or security deposit issue comes up in the future.


  1. Another great resource for finding housing near UCSB is the website or by using their mobile app livenearcollege available on Apple and android.

  2. I wish I had an article like this a few years ago! Maybe then I would have given more thought into renting in IV instead of going with UCSB housing.

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