Once you've decided to attend UW Law School, you'll want to secure housing as soon as possible. Here are a few considerations.
Madison neighborhoods law students like include Vilas, Wil-Mar, Capitol, and Bassett. Read our Neighborhoods Page to learn more. Here are some resources for potential renters:
- UW Division of University Housing
- Campus Area Housing Guide
- Campus Area Housing Listings
- The Isthmus
Schedule a visit to Madison
A few things to keep in mind while shopping for housing in Madison:
- Appointments: Most landlords give current tenants at least 24-hours notice before a tour, so schedule some appointments before you come to town to maximize your visit.
- Car: A car will help you get to scheduled apartment viewings, drive through town to search "For rent" signs on front lawns, and get familiar with as many neighborhoods as possible.
- Deposit: Most managers require a deposit to hold the apartment (usually a half or whole month's rent), so make sure to transfer funds ahead of time.
- Checkbook: Many apartment managers still require deposit by check.
- Information: Prepare your rental and employment history, co-signer information for rental applications. Many management companies have these forms available electronically on their websites, if you want to expedite the process. Competition for the most desirable apartments can be fierce and you will want to be ready.
Negotiation: Get all the details and know your rights
Read leases with an eye to special clauses, and ask questions if unclear. Sometimes a landlord will agree to strike certain clauses (i.e prohibiting subletting or hidden fees for carpet cleaning, etc). Larger management companies may be less willing to negotiate, but smaller property managers often do.
- Car: If you plan to bring a car to Madison, be sure to consider parking. If you live anywhere near campus, you can get a street permit from the City of Madison for a reasonable price. Be advised: street permits come with their own set of challenges. Street parking is limited in both amount and duration, and the parking laws are enforced with a ruthless efficiency rarely seen outside of an invading army. Ask your manager if off-street parking is available, and if it is included in the rent. If you plan to commute to school, look at http://www.fpm.wisc.edu/trans/ for campus parking information. There is very little street parking on campus. A pay lot on Lake Street charges an hourly rate.
- Pets: Most landlords charge an extra fee for pets, and many won't allow pets at all.
- Noisy areas include much of Langdon Street, all of State Street, portions of the Bassett Neighborhood, and the campus area. Neighborhood options.
- Distance: As many students say, if you can deal with a short commute from outside the downtown/campus area, it might be worth the hassle and money. The price for this: extra time for walking or parking/bus logistics. Madison is not so large that this is a horrible problem, but be mindful of it while looking for housing. Double-check distances quoted by landlords, who have been known to take advantage of out-of-town students in quoting the distance to school with amazingly liberal interpretations of the phrases "walking distance" and "easy commute." If you cannot come to town to see your apartment, confirm distances on Google Maps. The law school's address is 975 Bascom Mall, Madison, WI 53706.
- Public transit: Although the bus service is generally excellent and as a student you receive a free bus pass, service on some routes can be infrequent or end early.
- Roommates: A great way to keep your housing costs low, good study partners, friends, etc. However, your home will be a sacred space during what may be a particularly stressful time of your life, so choose wisely. A good place to find a roommate is the admitted student Facebook group. Words of a student: "if you want roommates, make sure that you spend time meeting them and making sure they will be on a similar schedule (sleeping at normal hours) that being a 1L requires."
After you sign your lease
Set up your utilities, internet, transfer your phone and bank accounts (if necessary), and change your address!
|Electricity/gas||Madison Gas & Electric
Budget Truck Rental
Mad City Moving
|Change of address||USPS
Other logistical details
|UW ID card (Wiscard)||
|ASM bus pass||
|Residential parking permit||
If things go wrong
Get it in writing: Especially promises to repair things. Keep a file of all written requests and make a logbook of the substance and date of all calls.
Be prepared, but not threatening, antagonistic or overly legalistic. Recognize a manager's challenges: they cannot fix a problem if you don't tell them. You have a duty to alert them about structural problems (leaky plumbing, sinking floors, etc). Give them a chance before calling a housing inspector about serious problems.