Due to the differing lengths of study that some international students have, it is important to talk to apartment management before signing and see if they provide a lease length for the amount of time you need.
Be sure to bring a copy of your lease to Student Legal Services on the 3rd level of the Reitz Union before signing it. You can set up an appointment or visit the SLS website and complete the client intake form.
Also, use OCL’s online Housing Locator service to search for properties. You can search by location, price, and the number of bedrooms. Some properties also have a high number of international students as tenants. Be sure to ask management about the composition of tenants who live there to get a better idea of the community before you sign a lease to live in it.
WELCOME TO THE USA!
Gainesville is a great mid-size city with lots of fun activities both on and off-campus that will provide you with the opportunity to learn more about the city and U.S. culture. We also have great restaurants, public transportation, mild weather and abundant housing. We hope the information provided in this section will help you to embrace Gainesville, the U.S. and to have an effortless transition to a new culture.
OCL knows that international students often study for varying amounts of time, anywhere from two months to multiple years. That is why it is important to talk to the apartment management and ask if they can provide you with the lease length that you need.
Most properties in Gainesville rent apartments by the year, 12 months, and a short-term lease is usually 10 months or 6 months.
Short term leases, which is any lease less than 12 months, will usually require an additional monthly fee of $90 per month in addition to your monthly rent. Another option for short term housing is to sublease an apartment from another student. Visit the OCL Housing Locator to search for housing based on lease length, sublease, number of bedrooms, locations, price and several other criteria.
Some apartments are all-inclusive, which means that you pay a monthly fee, and that fee includes rent, utilities, cable, internet and furniture. We recommend this type of housing for all students including international students. You pay one monthly fee, and it will include everything related to your housing and you will not be required to set up utilities or other services.
Students typically live with roommates. Having roommates has two benefits, you get to meet new people and it helps to reduce your monthly housing costs. When touring properties ask if the property will match you with roommates, if not OCL also provides a free roommate finder feature through the OCL Housing Locator simply click on the roommates link to connect with other students also searching for roommates.
Gainesville has two types of leases and the OCL office recommends an individual lease for international students with roommates. This means each roommate will NOT be held financially responsible for the other roommates and all roommates will pay rent separately.
OCL suggests you tour apartments in person before signing a lease, and that might require you staying in a hotel for a couple days. For a list of local hotels, visit the Visit Gainesville website and click on the “Places To Stay” link.
Another thing to be aware of when renting in Gainesville is that leases typically require a US credit history to process a lease application. If you are not a U.S. citizen you will often be required to pay a triple deposit in addition to your first month’s rent before being able to move in to your apartment. Deposits without a U.S. credit history or guarantor range from $500-$1,500. When touring properties, ask questions about the deposit cost and whether that money will be refunded after your lease is over. Click Here for a list of apartment tour questions, to help guide you through your apartment search.
In addition to the deposit there are also some additional costs when renting, Click Here for average rental costs and other steps to follow when searching for apartments. Once you sign a lease in Gainesville it is a legally binding agreement, that means you cannot change your mind. Take your time and do not rush into signing a lease.
Finally, be sure to bring a copy of your lease to Student Legal Services on the 3rd level of the Reitz Union before signing the lease. You can set up an appointment by visiting the SLS website and completing the client intake form on the Student Legal Services website.
Banking: UF has a Wells Fargo Bank on campus at the Reitz Union and there are several ATM’s located throughout campus including outside the Reitz Union (ground floor) and the Hub (outside Chick-fil-A).
Wells Fargo 655 Reitz Union Drive (352)335-1378
Cell phone: Gainesville has several cell phone stores throughout the city and the major providers are AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. All four stores are located on Archer Road and on RTS bus routes.
AT&T: att.com Verizon: verizonwireless.com T-Mobile: tmobile.com
Florida Driver’s License: if you want to get a driver’s license you will need to visit the Alachua County Tax Collector office, see below for branch locations. Click Here to schedule an appointment online. Branch offices are open Monday-Friday from 8:30am-4:30pm excluding holidays. Serivces include driver licenses, identification cards, and vehicle title and registrations.
- NW Branch: 5830 NW 34th Blvd. Gainesville, Florida 32653 (352) 374-5236 All Services–including Driver’s License test
- Butler Plaza Branch: 3837 Windmeadows Blvd. Gainesville, FL 32608 (352) 374-5236 No driving test at this location.
- Downtown Branch: 12 SE 1st Street Gainesville, FL 32601 (352) 374-5236 Located in the County Administration building.
Car Rental: There are several rental car agencies throughout the city including Enterprise (enterprise.com) and Budget (budget.com). The UF campus also has Zipcar (zipcar.com/universities/university-of-florida) which has cars located on campus that you can rent by the hour or day. Ridesharing options include mobile applications such as Lyft and Uber.
GAINESVILLE & UF
Gainesville is a great city and there are lots of activities and events both on and off-campus. Click Here for a link to a Gainesville map with local activities, restaurants, and fun things to do. Continue reading the Gator Guide for information on the local bus system, meal plans, fun things to do in Gainesville, ways to get involved on campus and much more. Also, visit OCL’s social media pages on Instagram @ufoffcampuslife for updates on our events and fun things happening both on and off campus.
UF has many resources and services specifically catered toward the needs of international students. Check out the International Center’s website for more information.