May 05, 2023 11 min read

This blog post is an excerpt from IVO's We Gaucho Back: UCSB Freshman Student Guide

Potentially, housing is the biggest thing we should talk about when entering into the University of California, Santa Barbara. As of now, we definitely would recommend having your housing search/process well underway. 

For First Years, it’s a bit easier; First years are required to live in one of the designated campus houses, which we will list all of the houses at the end of this section. Most first year campus housing is located on the UCSB campus, with the exception of two residence halls down the street (biking distance), adjacent to Isla Vista at the corner of El Colegio and Storke Rd.

The residence halls are a great way to meet the people who will either a) be some of your closest friends or b) guide you to finding your group. By way of proximity (all your neighbors in your hall) and programming (hall-sponsored events, school events, or just fun activities), you're able to be immersed in a large group of other first years looking to you as much as you are looking to meet them.

Thanks to the tireless effort of RA’s (resident advisors) and other resident hall staff members, there are countless, inclusive events which offer the opportunity to meet the people who don’t just share a room or a floor with you.

Something else of value, before moving into the transfer student portion of this section, is the knowledge that most of the residence halls are located within relatively close distance to the Dining Halls. We’ll go into more details pertaining to the dining halls later, but we would like to note that the convenience for students offered by the halls’ proximities is something top tier that UCSB has to offer.

Transfer student housing is just a bit different, as transfer students have the option between UCSB housing (both on and off campus) and Isla Vista living. For everyone who is new to the region, Isla Vista is the adjacent region which UCSB opens into. Transfer students are primarily offered housing in Transfer apartments, which are located along El Colegio and Storke Rd.’s. These apartments can range from 4-6 members and are furnished upon entry, and these are full apartments with kitchens, bathrooms, and showers, whereas residence halls rely on shared amenities of these natures.

Should a transfer student choose housing in Isla Vista instead, there are several companies such as Sierra Property Management Company, Meridian Property Group, and more which offer housing from the 65-68 blocks of Isla Vista. Here’s a web page that posts a list of property managers that lease properties in IV, thanks to Pardall Center - a housing resource on Pardall Road, the main street in Isla Vista, just one block from UCSB.   

Isla Vista homes, which border the UCSB Campus, are dominantly populated by students and younger alumni and can range, on average, from 4 to 19 residents. The square mile town of Isla Vista is a small community jam-packed with a young, student energy. Depending on which street, you'll find more activity compared to campus housing, due to the variety of concerts, parties, and general events which populate IV on a given day.

As far as rental costs goes, rental units increase in price the closer you are to Del Playa Drive, the street that sits on the ocean bluffs looking out to the Pacific Ocean. A common bucket list item before you graduate that fills the "Isla Vista experience" is to live on Del Playa Drive. Waking up and falling asleep to the ocean waves is an underrated luxury, and, as we all know, the older you get in life after college, becomes exponentially difficult to achieve!

IVO's Top 5 Freshman Residence Halls

What You Should Know About Each Residence Hall

Tips for Transfers (ft. Brock Clark)

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