Your first step in finding a place off-campus is to examine your finances and expectations. If you have any friends who live off-campus, begin asking them what they are paying for rent, utilities and other expenses. Another important part of determining your needs is deciding what type of person you want to room with. People who don't take the time to get to know their prospective roommates might regret it later.
Splitting the rent and utilities and also sharing chores, responsibilities, time, thoughts and experiences in a shared housing situation is one option. Your roommates can be close friends with whom you share your values, ideas and your time. Or, they may only use the house as a place to sleep, shower and store their belongings, but still chip in for the common expenses.
Living alone in an apartment can be more expensive than shared living but generally cheaper than renting a house alone. Landlords usually foot the bill for some utilities, although increasingly the heating bills have become the tenants' responsibility along with the rent.
Houses are the most expensive option to consider, unless you are willing to share with others, especially if you do not have money to pay upfront the first and last months' rent, in addition to a security deposit.
Sometimes families will offer room and board in exchange for providing either baby-sitting or help with household chores. Senior citizen housing exchange programs also exist, allowing you to stay in a home in exchange for helping with chores, providing company and/or sometimes providing assistance.
In general, rents are driven by the location; the accessibility to downtown Seattle or the University of Washington; access to major arterial roads; the neighborhood; proximity to water or parks; amenities such as washer/dryer, decks, hot tubs, etc.; and views of water, city skyline and mountains. Many students share a house to cut down on expenses.
The farther you live from Seattle and/or main arterials, the more you will have to rely on your own transportation. There are some very nice locations that offer a great refuge even though this may increase your commute time. If you have a car, consider driving around these areas and exploring before you choose.
The following are some great places to look for housing notices and ads:
Many students may need a place to stay for a few days when they first come to town as they attempt to find a place to live. Bastyr Conference Services has a limited number of rooms, in the months of July and August, that may be available to students who need a place to stay for a few days. The cost of a room is $45 for single occupancy and $35 each for double occupancy. Rooms are given out on a space-available basis. For more information, please contact conference services at (425) 602-3075 or firstname.lastname@example.org.