For most universities, housing is not guaranteed for all 4 years because dormitory space is limited. The housing situation at USC guarantees the first two years, meaning that all first- and second-year undergraduate students that want USC housing will get USC housing. After that, students can enter a lottery for the remaining spots but most elect to get off-campus housing, which is plentiful around University Park Campus.
When it comes to living on campus, there are a few main real estate companies in the USC area that focus on apartments/homes. There is Stuho, Mosaic, SC Student housing, the Lorezo, and University Gateway (these are just to name a few, there are a ton others). The first thing to consider for non-university housing is identifying you/your roommates’ needs. First is identifying if you like living in an apartment/home and whether you want to live north or west of campus. Houses north of campus are generally livelier, which makes them a little more popular and a bit more expensive. Another important aspect to consider is making sure you are within the DPS Patrol Zone and the USC Free Lyft program.
My first two years I spent in USC housing, living in McCarthy Honors College my first year as well as being an RA there my second year. My third year, my friends and I got an apartment a block off-campus at the Shrine apartments (through the company Stuho). The benefits of the Shrine are that there are 20 apartments per hall which are all occupied by students, and it is really close to campus. This creates a great environment to know your neighbors but can be a little more expensive because of its proximity to everything that is happening. Non-USC housing is also very nice because you don’t have the same limitations that you did when you were in the residence halls, like having an RA or limiting the number of guests you can have over at a certain time. I went about finding this apartment by first seeing how many roommates I would have and looking as close to campus as possible. Speaking with upperclassmen about housing also helped narrow our selection!
As a senior, my friends and I were looking for a house to have more room for ourselves. Houses around the USC area are HARD to come by, as many are passed down through clubs or fraternities and sororities. We started looking in November for the next school year, which ended up being late when looking for a house because the leases that are not passed down are snatched up the second week of October. My recommendation here is to start early and make sure everyone is on board with signing a lease. Most of the leasing companies also do not have all the information online (such as rent, floor plans, etc.), which forces you to call and speak with a leasing agent. Gather info early so that everyone knows what they are getting into because that delayed my process by weeks. This forced us to start looking a little farther away from campus which turned out to be in our favor.
This year, I am living about three-quarter miles from campus, which is not as far as it seems when you have a bike or a skateboard and it’s within the Free Lyft Program, which has been a lifesaver. Since it is past Adams Street, we got a good deal on rent, where everyone has a single room with a lot of space compared to houses closer to campus which were built with the intentions for student housing. The one downside to being past Adams Street is that we are the only group of students that live on our street, whereas the rest of the neighborhood are families. Originally, we were a little concerned about that, but the noise has never been an issue and we rarely see our neighbors. Coming home to a baby blue house every day also puts a smile on my face!
Taken together, my time living in a house has been immensely better than the time spent in an apartment. Having your own space makes a big difference and I would recommend it if you can find one junior year!