One of the best ways to search for apartments is talk to grad students who have lived in a particular apartment complex or locality. Make it a point to visit the place both, during day and at night. The rule of thumb is that if a place looks dangerous in the light of day, it only gets worse at night. Ask other graduate students if you are unsure about a location. You will have enough to worry about without wondering if your possessions or your person will be safe.
Do NOT expect to roll into a budget-priced apartment one mile from campus the week before classes start. Rice is located in a high-rent neighborhood with limited affordable rental property. It gets harder to find apartments every year. Be prepared for an extended search and schedule an in-person visit if at all possible!
We have this awesome program called the Loan Closet. This program loans small household items to the graduate and postgraduate students of Rice University, for the duration of their studies. So if you need a bookcase or cookware or something similar, you can look there first.
Also, once before you move in, you are GOING to need utilities and renter’s insurance.
Setting Up Utilities
Depending on your housing situation, you may have to set up the following utilities. You may decide some are unnecessary, and some may be automatically set up by your landlord or association.
- Electricity – Electricity as a utility in the state of Texas is deregulated; this means you have the choice of electricity provider. You can go to http://www.powertochoose.org/ to learn more about the implications of a deregulated market or view a video on this subject athttps://www.saveonenergy.com/power-to-choose/. You can also see what providers supply electricity to your area and who offers a better rate. Generally, if you are going to stay in the same house for 6/12 months; is is preferable to go for a fixed-rate plan. Fixed-rate plans offer you protection against unexpected price increases in electricity.
- Telephone (Residential and Mobile) – A host of providers are available in the telecom market. For residential lines, AT&T and Comcast are the leaders in the Houston area. AT&T, T-mobile, Sprint and Verizon are the leaders in the cellular phone business. You can get some really fancy handsets if you sign a 2-year contract with the providers. For a new student, these providers might require a security deposit since for a first time visitor to USA; you wouldn’t have a credit history. You can either choose to pay the deposit, which gets refunded in 6 months/1 year after you sign the contract OR you may ask a friend to get you a line.
- Internet – As with the residential telephones; AT&T and Comcast are the leaders in this business. You require a good credit history to start a contract with these companies. So, if they refuse; ask a friend for help.
- Television – Again, AT&T and Comcast dominate this business. One good idea; if you plan on getting Internet and Television OR Residential phone, Internet and Television would be to look for bundles which help you get good discounts.
University Housing for Graduate Students
1515 Bissonnet St, Houston, Texas, 77005
The Rice Graduate Apartments are a garden style complex, conveniently located 8 minutes from campus. The apartments are in an ideal location, and only a short walking distance from the Houston Museum District, the Houston Zoo, and the Rice Village, which features great restaurants, bars and shops. Our community was designed with the Rice graduate student in mind. We offer diverse floor plans to meet both your budget and comfort. The complex’s amenities include free internet and cable, a laundry room in each floor, a computer room, and a club house with a TV, pool table, and ping pong table, etc. For those without a car, we offer a shopping shuttle every Saturday so you can get your groceries. The Rice Graduate Apartments tries our best to meet all your needs and provide the comforts of a home near campus.
2414 Shakespeare St, Houston, Texas, 77030
The Rice Village Apartments is a four story complex featuring a modern design conveniently located on Shakespeare Street, adjacent to Rice Village. The location provides extra benefits to residents without cars because the nearby Rice Village showcases over 300 shops, boutiques, and restaurants. The surrounding community also values the green space and trees that are present throughout the neighborhood. The Rice Village Apartment Complex also features an herb garden and fruit trees for residents. Each unit’s appliances are certified by Energy Star in order to conserve energy, protect the environment and reduce electricity bills. The laundry machines alert you via email when your laundry is done. Disability accommodations are also provided. Rice Village Apartments makes use of every opportunity to satisfy its residents by offering affordable and unique floor plans within a prestigious area of Houston.
Rice’s Off-campus Housing Guide or Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies’ housing website are the best places to start.
Another great resource is Nino Properties’ Facebook page. This group specializes in helping faculty, staff and students find housing in and around the Houston area (as well as nationwide). They are especially helpful when you personally cannot visit the area prior to signing the lease.
Furthermore, Trulia (over 4,400 listings with in-depth neighborhood information) and Zillow (about 1,000 listings with fair rental price estimates) are great places to look. Apartment List is also a great place to start. Just a quick tip, emailing doesn’t always get you a response, so you may have to call or visit to get a showing.
Neighborhoods Convenient For Rice Students
|Binz||Binz lies between Hermann Park and Downtown, bounded on the east by Almeda and on the west by South Main. The commute to school is short, but some grad students have complained that the crime rate is high.|
|Bissonnet-Southhampton||Bissonnet-Southhampton lies between the north edge of campus and the Southwest Freeway. There are a few small apartment complexes here plus a fair number of duplexes and garage apartments. One bedroom apartments start around $550/month and can be as high as $900/month, as this area is close to campus.|
|The Medical Center||The Medical Center lies immediately east, southeast, and south of Rice. Many older apartments can be found to the south. Sometimes classified ads tend to abuse the term “Medical Center” by including apartments in areas as far away as Greenway or Montrose. This area can be expensive.|
|Montrose||Montrose is a colorful neighborhood with a wonderfully eclectic population. Nightlife, restaurants, and museums abound. The neighborhood begins one mile north of campus and is roughly bordered by Brazos on the east, SW Fwy on the south, Greenbriar on the west, and Allen Parkway on the north. The University of St. Thomas is in the heart of Montrose (W Alabama and Montrose). Montrose is one of the first Houston “suburbs.” There are some cool apartments and houses to be found, but quality and cost vary. In Montrose, it is customary to advertise a vacancy by merely placing a sign on your front lawn; apartments are seldom advertised in the paper in this area. It pays to drive around and collect the phone numbers of interesting places. Efficiencies and one-bedroom apartments start at $600-$700/month, two-bedrooms around $1,200 or more.|
|The Museum District||The Museum District is the small neighborhood right around the Museum of Fine Arts, near Montrose and Bissonnet. Rents in this area are usually high, but there are a couple of inexpensive apartment buildings and some garage apartments. As in the Montrose neighborhood, advertising often consists of sign postings on lawns.|
|West University-Southside Place||West University-Southside Place is the upscale neighborhood west of campus in which small houses are rapidly being torn down and replaced with nouveau riche tract mansions. There are few apartment complexes, and most houses are out of the student price range. Your best bet is to look for a garage apartment if you’re renting alone, or get a group together and find a house. Don’t expect to find such a place for under $1000.|
Neighborhoods That Require Extended Commute To Campus
|The Astrodome/Reliant Park||The Astrodome/Reliant Park area has many condos, townhouses, and apartment complexes east and west of the Astrodome. Some are more run-down than others are–and some are extremely pricey. Outside of the Kirby/Main area, graduate students have reported in the past that street life can get a bit unpalatable (South Main). Again, be sure to get a feel for what a neighborhood is like both during the day and at night. Apartments in the South Main area (south of Old Spanish Trail) have the reputation for being dangerous, although there are inviting blocks dotted with single-family houses in this area. Additionally, traffic jams occur before and after a well-attended event at the Reliant Park Stadium. If you do find a place here, be sure to map out an escape route to avoid an Astrojam.|
|Bellaire||Bellaire is a nice community four miles west of campus on the far side of West U and is typically middle class. Safe and pleasant, the area is known for its comfortable homes. But beware: as in West U, many homeowners are selling their houses to yuppies who raze the structures to build tract mansions; you might find yourself booted out when your lease expires.|
|The Galleria||The Galleria is the area near the mall of the same name, around the intersection of West Loop and Westheimer, and is littered with many upscale and expensive places. To live in this area, you’d better love rush-hour traffic.|
|Greenway||Greenway is the located around the Greenway Plaza, near the intersection of SW Freeway and Buffalo Speedway. There are some affordable large complexes in this part of town, but it is generally plagued by heavy traffic during rush hour.|
|The Heights||The Heights is an older neighborhood inside the loop, northwest of Downtown and north of Montrose. There are many restored wooden frame houses. The neighborhood is mostly blue-collar with an increasingly large arty population. Its southern edge is Memorial Drive, about four miles north of campus. This is a pleasant, little neighborhood with relatively low rents for small houses and apartments. Houses with one bedroom start at approximately $900 per month.|
|River Oaks||River Oaks is Houston’s home of the rich and famous and lies west of Montrose, north of Greenway, and east of the Galleria. There are some very pricey apartments available around the fringes.|
|Westbury, Braeswood, and Meyerland||Westbury, Braeswood, and Meyerland lie along Braes Bayou, inside the southwest corner of the loop, and extend southwesterly beyond the loop. It’s a comfortable middle to upper-middle class neighborhood with many Rice faculty in the area. Some affordable houses can be found.|