Living Off-Campus

Living Off-Campus

Acquaint yourself with the College's surrounding communities and begin thinking about some serious questions, like how much am I willing to spend and do I need a roommate?

Types of Area Housing

There is a variety of housing options in the LaMorinda (Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda) area available to Saint Mary's College students. As you begin your search for off campus housing, keep in mind the following types of housing and their price estimations.

Apartment Rentals

Apartments are the most common type of rental available to students. In most cases, you will be required to pay the first and last month's rent and a security deposit. Most apartments are unfurnished. Rental costs of apartments will vary depending on location and size.

Single/One Bedroom: $1,500-2,000 per month

Single apartments tend to be higher priced because of their privacy and size. Typically, singles include a separate kitchen and bathroom. (Living room spaces can sometimes be converted into a bedroom to split costs of rent.)

Multiple Bedrooms: $2,100 - $3,500 per month

Rent will depend on size, area and rooms (multiple bathrooms, two or three bedrooms, etc). Typically, multiple bedroom apartments include separate kitchens, bathrooms, and living rooms.

Studio Apartments: $1,500 - $1,300 per month

Studios are typically smaller spaces that only include a living area, kitchen and bathroom, and are meant to be one person occupancies.

Rooms in Private Homes

Rooms in private homes vary in cost, size, style and privileges. Costs will depend on access to kitchen areas, access to private entrances and other amenities like utilities. In lieu of rent, some owners offer rooms in exchange for housework, baby- sitting, or providing transportation. Be sure to discuss use of facilities (including laundry) and expectations with the homeowner prior signing an agreement.

Rooms in Private Homes: $700 - $1,000 per month

House Rentals

Some homeowners rent houses to groups of students. Landlords typically require first and last month's rental fees and a security deposit. (Interested students should be sure that each student living in the household have their name on the lease.) Although renting houses may be more expensive, students can normally enjoy their own kitchen and laundry facilities and have larger living spaces. Be sure to discuss responsibility for costs such as upkeep of premises, utilities and possible homeowner fees.

Rented Houses: $2,950 - $5,500 per person per month

Renting Resources

The following are lists of websites and newspapers to assist you in your search. Always be aware of fraudulent offers or listings. The College accepts no responsibility for any actions arising from these listings. The College has not accepted, approved, or disapproved of these facilities nor investigates, endorses, or guarantees the suitability of those responding to any listing.

Safety Tips for Finding Rentals:

  • Is the neighborhood well lit at night?
  • What sorts of neighbors are in the neighborhood? Helpful Hint: Tell a friend or neighbor when you are out of town to keep an eye on your place.
  • If you do not have a parking space, where will you safely park your car?

Safety Questions for the Landlord:

  • Have there been any recent crimes (thefts, attacks, etc) in the neighborhood?
  • Who patrols the area and how frequently?
  • Who has copies to keys for the building? Who has access to the building? Helpful Hint: Use only initials on your mailbox or name listing.

Things to Look For:

  • A deadbolt lock at each entry door
  • Window locks (Windows should also be accessible in case of emergency)
  • Smoke detectors in each room (check the batteries!)
  • Fire extinguishers on each floor of the building
  • Emergency procedures for the building

What is your budget?

The following chart contains estimated costs for living off campus (excerpted from "At Home 2007," available in Residence Life):


Location On-Campus Moraga Lafayette Walnut Creek
Avg Rent/12 months $9,120 (townhouse double $24,779 $31,800 $25,080
Avg Gas/30 weeks N/A $108 $327 $435
Phone/TV/Internet/12 months Included $1,188 $1,188 $1,188
Utilities/12 months Included $2,415 $2,415 $2,415
Groceries/12 months $6,660 (carte blanche meal plan) $2,760 $2,760 $2,760
Total Costs $15,780 $31,250 $38,490 $31,878


Be sure to factor in the following utilities:

  • Electric
  • Heat
  • Gas
  • Water
  • Cable
  • Internet
  • Phone
  • Trash


Am I going to have a roommate(s)?

Having a roommate can offset expenses. With any prospective roommate, it is important to discuss prior to move in how expenses will be shared and paid. It is also important to come to an agreement about the length of the rental. Finally, keep in mind questions about cleanliness, guests, pets, social life and smoking.

What do I plan on doing for transportation?

If you plan on using your own vehicle, be sure to factor in gas and mileage into your budget. If you plan on using public transportation, be sure that you are near a stop and find a schedule. (Please see our Resources section for bus routes and schedules, taxi information and BART information.)


Surrounding Neighborhoods


  • Estimated time to Saint Mary's is under five minutes
  • Located 18 miles east of San Francisco with about 17,000 residents
  • Scenic trails and amazing views
  • Residential town known for rolling hills, great weather and being one of the safest communities in the state
  • Estimated time to BART is ten minutes
  • More about Moraga


  • Estimated time to Saint Mary's is ten minutes
  • Northwest of Saint Mary's, located next to Highway 24 and a BART station
  • Family- oriented community with 17,000 residents
  • Mainly residential homes, with limited apartments
  • More about Orinda


  • Estimated time to Saint Mary's is ten minutes
  • Northeast of Saint Mary's, located next to Highway 24 and a BART station
  • Residential areas surround a thriving downtown with entertainment options
  • Area includes multiple apartments, studios and other housing options
  • Close proximity to Lafayette Reservoir
  • More about Lafayette

Walnut Creek:

  • Estimated time to Saint Mary's is fifteen to twenty minutes
  • Located east of Saint Mary's with 68,000 residents
  • Premier shopping and dining destination in East Bay, including outdoor mall
  • Variety of housing options available
  • More about Walnut Creek

Pleasant Hill:

  • Estimated time to Saint Mary's is twenty to twenty-five minutes
  • Located northeast of Saint Mary's with 33,000 residents
  • Downtown includes theater square, restaurants and home goods
  • More about Pleasant Hill


  • Estimated time to Saint Mary's is thirty minutes
  • West of Saint Mary's and home of UC Berkeley & 100,000 residents
  • College community brings diverse cultural experiences, housing options & lower costs
  • More about Berkeley