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You gotta live somewhere...

On Campus Housing

Options around campus: <display_map searchmarkers="all" height=500px width=500px> 34.139822, -118.128997 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Central Catalina Apts 34.140601, -118.129013 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ North Catalina Apts 34.140601, -118.129013 34.138858, -118.128960 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ South Catalina Apts 34.138858, -118.128960 </display_map>

Catalina Apartments

They consist of three groups of apartments (South, Central, and North) located one block west of campus. Each of the three Catalina Properties has a recreation center for residents' enjoyment. Your Caltech ID will provide you access to the buildings. The recreation centers are equipped with outdoor barbecues, patio furniture, foosball and pool tables, large-screen cable TV, DVD/Blu-ray, stereo equipment, kitchenette and fireplace. They also house the Catalina's washers and dryers, all card-operated. Only residents currently residing in the Catalina Residential Apartments may reserve usage of the recreation rooms. To reserve a room online, click here. The contract period for housing is from September 1 – July 31. If the resident breaks their contract before the contract end date, there is a cancellation fee. The exception is in the case of resident ineligibility, academic withdrawal, sabbatical or early graduation. If residents vacate their housing before the end of the contract end date, they are required to give 15 days notice by submitting a Notice of Intent to Vacate/Room Move form online. If 15 days notice is not given, the resident will still be charged rent for the 15 days. Failure to submit the Notice of Intent to Vacate/Room Move form prior to moving out will result in an improper check out/room move fee. For more information regarding housing in the Catalinas, click here.

Central Catalina

Six buildings containing thirty-eight four-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments and a recreation/laundry building.

North Catalina

This six-building complex of seventy-eight two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartments is a popular choice among students. The two-bedroom apartments have just as much living space as the four-bedroom apartments, and they have full size beds and big sofas.

South Catalina

This complex of six three-story buildings has a total of 54 two-bedroom apartments and 29 one-bedroom apartments. Currently, the one bedrooms are reserved for couples.

Resident Associates

The undergraduate houses as well as graduate housing have Resident Associates (RAs) who serve as liaisons between students and the Associate Dean of Students. They assist with personal and academic counseling needs and are the initial person to respond to emergencies. They reside in a furnished apartment in one of the eight undergraduate houses, graduate student housing or in our off-campus residences. They are on the Board Plan, receive a meal allowance and an entertainment budget. On campus RAs will eat a majority of their meals with their students who are on the mandatory board plan. Graduate student RAs are given a stipend so they can eat with their residents at other locations. If you are interested in being Resident Associate, please contact the Undergraduate Dean’s Office Center. Applicants must be willing to commit for a minimum of two years.

Housing Lottery

First year graduate students are guaranteed a spot in the Catalina apartments. Beyond the first year, due to limited space, housing spaces are allotted on a lottery basis. This process happens in April and May of each year. For more information, see Housing Lottery Rules here.

Warning: Some students have reported issues with lottery. To ensure your entry is correctly received, you must get a confirmation email. Even if you apply in a group, each member should get their own confirmation email. If you do not receive a confirmation email, make sure you follow up with the Housing office.

Off Campus Housing

California Renters' information

Caltech Lease Properties

The Housing Office manages several apartment buildings, studio units and houses located off-campus which accommodates graduate students and their families. Due to the high demand for Caltech-owned lease properties, a waiting list procedure has been established. These properties are unfurnished, except for window coverings, carpeting, stove, and refrigerator and are leased on a month-to-month basis. Caltech pays for water, trash, gas and electricity. Residents will be charged back for their usage of gas and electricity. Residents are responsible for setting up telephone, television and internet services. The lease is limited to five years for students with children and two years for all others. Students can apply on line through their access.caltech.edu “My Housing” account. For more information regarding graduate housing, see the housing website.

Rental Housing

The market rates in Pasadena are in the $1000-1500 range for a one-bedroom apartment (studios are a bit cheaper) and $1300-1900 for two bedrooms. A room in a house can be found for $500-900, and entire small houses can be rented from about $1500/month. For accommodations near Caltech that are suitable for living, expect to pay about $900+ for a one-bedroom and $1300+ for a two-bedroom. Of course, your definition of “suitable” may vary, and if you look hard enough, you may find a bargain. To find something decent, safe, and less expensive may mean moving a bit farther away. The closest neighboring towns you may consider include Altadena, Arcadia, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena, Glendale from which you can commute by bike or bus. Living along the Gold Line is expensive but you can carry a bike onto the metro, so that can extend non-driving options.

Types of leases vary, but it is more common to find month-to-month rental agreements for rooms and apartments in small complexes and six month to year long leases at larger apartment complexes and houses. Landlords will typically ask for up to two months rent as a security deposit when you sign the lease. If there is any work that needs to be done (such as painting, changing the locks, or installing new carpets) you should have that written into the lease. For complete information on tenant’s rights, check out the webpage of the California Department of Consumer Affairs at Landlord/Tenant Book Index.

Some ways to find a house or apartment:

  • Caltech Marketplace email list : Caltech classified email list. Sign up https://lists.caltech.edu/listinfo/marketplace
  • Useful free online listings (caution -- if it sounds too good to be true, it might be. Use your judgement before paying money or sharing personal information):
   * Craigslist
   * Zillow 
   * Padmapper 
   * Places4Students
   * HotPads
  • Walking the streets looking for vacancy signs in the areas you like.
  • Ask if any of the older students or postdocs in your lab are planning to move soon - some of the best houses are passed down through many sets of Caltech students and postdocs.
  • Local newspapers such as the Pasadena Star News and Pasadena Weekly
  • Campus bulletin boards: The Art Center College of Design (1700 Lida, (626) 584-5000) has a list of students seeking roommates which you may review or join
  • Professional services such as RENT LINE and Coastal Credit can find available apartments in the greater LA area for free or for a small finders fee. These services can be found at newsstands in your supermarket or other convenience stores or in the classified ads of local papers. In many cases, you will pay a lower security deposit if you rent through an agency.
  • There are also many other rental listing services including EZ Rent List (http://www.ezrentlist.com) and Westside Rentals (http://www.westsiderentals.com).
  • There is generally no need to sign up for more than one of these listing services.

Buying a House or Condo

Speaking very, very generally, if you can afford a down payment large enough (e.g. 20%) to secure a low interest rate, you plan to keep the house for more than 5 years, and you plan to continue to own a home in the future, it can be more attractive to buy than to rent. To get a sense of the properties that are for sale in the Pasadena area, you can check the database that realtors use at http://www.listinglink.com. It finds all the properties that match certain criteria and is updated daily. If you decide to buy a house, the first thing to do is to find a good realtor. Two realtors recommended by Technique readers are listed below:

  • Joseph Vaughan, Prudential Bryant Cos Real Estate 1108 Fair Oaks Ave, South Pasadena; (626) 441-3141; jovon@earthlink. net
  • Gardner & Gardner Properties at 626-599-2015 office and 626-356-9696 leasing office.

See Also