UW-Madison Opens Off-Campus Housing Services to Assist Students

In recent years, the search for off-campus housing has increasingly been a challenge for many UW-Madison students, due to population growth, historically low vacancy rates, and the pressure of early leasing timelines. Many rental properties begin signing leases for next year soon after students first arrive on campus in the fall, leading to quick decisions before they are familiar with the Madison area. With these challenges, students and their families are seeking more assistance in navigating the off-campus rental market. In response, the University recently established a new resource for students with Off-Campus Housing Services. This new office, located within the Division of University Housing, is designed to provide students with the resources to make informed decisions and to offer follow-up support as needed.

In the residence halls, University Housing focuses on offering an on-campus home to all incoming new first-year students, to help provide them with a successful transition to college life. While a limited number of residence hall spaces are reserved for returning residents, the majority of UW-Madison students traditionally live off-campus for their second year and beyond.

Previously, most students managed their off-campus search with support from Campus and Visitor Relations (CAVR) and their Campus Area Housing service. As the current housing market has evolved, however, it required more attention to meet the needs of students. Building off the valuable work of CAVR, Off-Campus Housing Services brings together campus partners and outside stakeholders to enhance these resources, serving as a one-stop shop to guide students and their families through their housing search.

Since its launch in summer 2023, Off-Campus Housing Services has been working to educate students and families about the off-campus housing landscape through orientation materials, livestream programs, and participation in CAVR’s student housing fair. In addition, Off-Campus Housing Services has been building relationships with various partners including property managers, the Tenant Resource Center, and the City of Madison.

“When we’re meeting one-on-one with a student or working with campus partners, we have a great opportunity here to collaborate on the housing issues facing students,” says Erin Warner, Assistant Director of Off-Campus Housing Services. “We’re connecting these Badgers with the resources they need, whether they have urgent housing needs, financial challenges, or just need a guiding hand to find the right setting to be successful. Even in a competitive market, Madison has so many housing options for students if they look in the right places.”

With this new office, University Housing can help connect UW-Madison students with places to live both on campus and off campus through resources and partnerships. One of these resources is CAVR’s Campus Area Housing website, where students can search privately-owned housing options, including rental vacancies, roommate openings, and sublets. In the future, Off-Campus Housing Services hopes to work with local property managers to further improve the information available to students.

“University Housing is uniquely positioned to help students find places where they can thrive, whether that’s in the residence halls, an off-campus house, or a private apartment,” notes Jeff Novak, associate vice-chancellor for finance and administration and director of University Housing. “We want to make the housing search process easier, so that all of our Badgers can find a college home that’s right for them.”

For more information on finding your home away from home at UW-Madison, visit Off-Campus Housing Services or contact us by email at off-campus@housing.wisc.edu.