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View of Silicon Valley at sunset taken from the eastern hills

Housing and Transportation

How to Find an Apartment

There are numerous options for finding an apartment and we've listed some of the listings below. Many of them have apps for your phone.

One caution

While you're looking for accommodation, please be sure to avoid fraud. Do not pay, send money by wire, accept money, or provide your personal and financial information to anyone you have not met in person. 

Here are some of our recommendations:

  • Kapi Residence
    Provides fully-furnished student housing that is very affordable, convenient, and easy to book. South Bay accommodation is available so please inquire with Kapi.  
  • Craigslist
    Classified ads list popular among people to search for rooms, roommates, and apartments. 
  • Homestays
    Stay with a local family or group of students. Listings include organizations that connect international students to local families. One local organization, based in Silicon Valley, is International Student Placements (ISP). 
  • ESL Housing
    An international student housing company that specializes in apartments for international students. 
  • Airbnb
    Find short-term (a few days to a few months) housing while you begin your studies and settle into the Silicon Valley area.  
  • Facebook Market Place
    Are you already on Facebook?  See the Market Place and search for accommodation. 
  • Trulia
    An apartment and housing search engine. Find apartment rentals, sales, and roommate opportunities. 
  • Padmapper
    A popular rental search engine that combines searches from many other sites. 
  • Roomster
    A new way to search and find accommodation with housemates and roommates. 

U.S. apartment terminology | San Jose area prices

Rental expectations

Often you will be expected to pay one month of rent + one month's rent deposit when signing a new lease agreement.

Price estimates

  • Studio: A studio apartment is one large room with a small kitchenette and bathroom.
    Average price: $1,600–$2,000
  • One-bedroom apartment: One-bedroom apartments have a bedroom, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. 
    Average price: $1,800–$2,300
  • Two-bedroom apartment: Two-bedroom apartments have two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. 
    Average price: $2,000–$3,000
  • Room in a house or apartment: Maybe the most popular way to live in the Bay Area and bring costs down.
    Average price: $700–$1,400

Get connected: internet and phone service

You have many options for internet and phone service providers. One of the easiest ways to see what is available is to use inmyarea.com. Type in your five-digit zip code and compare available features.

Transportation

Getting around the Bay Area can be tough without a car. Depending on your preferences, you can spend very little ($) or a lot ($$$$), on transportation.  

Applying for a California driver's license

To apply for a California driver’s license

  • Make an appointment through the DMV website.
  • Complete the Driver License Application before you go to the DMV.
  • Be sure to review test examples and study the California Driver Handbook.
  • Go to the DMV on your appointment day. Bring the following documents:
    • Valid passport
    • I-94
    • I-20
    • Two residency documents, such as a copy of the lease, utility bill, or credit card bill.
  • Pay the $38 application fee
  • Give a fingerprint scan and have your photo taken.
  • You will be asked for a Social Security Number. If you don’t have an SSN, tell the DMV clerk that you are not eligible for an SSN and are exempt from this requirement.
  • You must pass a vision exam and a test about traffic laws and signs.

After you pass the written test
Make an appointment to take the driving test. (Driving tests are not given without an appointment.) You will need to provide proof of auto insurance.

A California driver's license is required to purchase a car and obtain auto insurance. An international driver’s license is not recognized by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Car Leases
Instead of purchasing a new car, you can opt to do a short-term lease and pay month-to-month. VOLVO, in particular, has a leasing program for international students so check them out for pricing and terms.

Used Cars
Another cost-effective way to find transportation is to buy a used car. There are many offers on CRAIGSLIST but beware of scammers. You can also visit a CARMAX location when you're here.

Car Sharing/Taxi/Cab
Uber and Lyft are popular ways to get around if you just want to pay per ride. Average cost per ride is around $10. 

Bus Service
VTA is the public transportation authority. A single ride is $2.25 and a monthly pass is $80.

Train Service
CALtrain runs from San Francisco to Gilroy and rides range from $3.75 to $30 depending on the number of zones (1-6) you're riding through. Another option is the BART which covers most of San Francisco and the East Bay but none of San Jose. 

Natural Beauty

If you are a nature lover, you will enjoy the beaches and surf of nearby the Monterey Bay, the San Francisco Baylands, surrounding redwood forests, vast agricultural expanses abutting the rolling foothills, and breathtaking Sierra mountain ranges calling you to go on long hikes with your camera. We’re not kidding. It’s seriously beautiful around here. The Best 10 Parks in Silicon Valley, CA.

City Life

If you love the big city, just visit the art and tech museums, pubs, and concert venues, we are next door to San Jose, within an hour’s drive of San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland, and just about four hours from Los Angeles. It’s only 2.1 miles to Great America, 340 miles to Hollywood, and 372 miles to Disneyland. Check out nearby fun activities.

Networking

We love getting together and there is also no place that puts on a free business, technology, or educational lecture (such as Meetups) as often as Silicon Valley. Our students have routinely found important connections in their classes, with their instructors, and with people in the community who have helped them grow their careers.

Tech History

From the birth of the semiconductor to the software explosion that led us to cloud computing and biopharma, and now the world of genetics – it’s all here. We’ve got the Computer History Museum, The Tech Interactive, and the garage where Steve Jobs first cobbled together the early designs that became Apple, Inc.

There is no place like Silicon Valley.

Sure, there’s a lot of traffic and a crazy-fast pace of change here. That’s what happens when people see themselves as inventors, designers, problem-solvers, and entrepreneurs who can’t wait to sell the next new thing. In the heart of Silicon Valley, you will encounter the determination of the business strategist and the brilliance of the technologist.

List of tourist attractions in Silicon Valley

20 Must-See Attractions in Silicon Valley

International Inquiry Form

Contact Us
Speak to an international programs representative.

Call +1 (408) 450-4945

Envelope extensioninternational@ucsc.edu