Graduate Student Transition Information

Now that you have made the easy, obvious choice to join the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Computer Sciences graduate program, it is time to think about starting your new life. This can be difficult, but your fellow peers who came before you would like to help make the transition to Madison and graduate life a little easier.

Where to Live

Your first concern is probably where you will live in the fall. Most leases for student housing in Madison run from August 15th to August 14th of the next year. The best time to look for housing is during the early to middle summer. You might still be able to find some decent places to live at the last minute, but we don't recommend that approach especially since most of Madison will be moving a couple weeks around August 15th.

CS graduate students live all over the place, and have a wide range of living expenses. Living close to campus has the advantage that you're at the center of life, and the disadvantage that the houses are not as nice and the rents are high. If you are willing to live further from campus and commute (students get free bus passes to ride on any of the madison metro buses) you can pay much less for a nicer place. There's almost no parking close to the department, but there are very good bus connections to many areas away from campus. So it all depends on what is important to you.

The ballpark price for efficiencies (a small usually furnished apartment with minimal kitchen and bath facilities), 1 bedroom and 2 bedrooms are roughly around $500, $750 and $950 respectively. You want to make sure that heat (and other utilities) are included in your rent, if not, account the cost of them into your monthly rent. If you would like to look for a roommate amongst incoming grads in CS you can use the gradchat mailing list.

If you know of a particular area where you would like to live, I suggest that you look for advertisements and contact phone numbers in that area to schedule a visit. If not, one of the easiest ways to find a place to live is to check the Campus Area Housing Listing Service through the Visitors & Information Programs especially their Most Frequently Asked Question About Finding Housing in Madison. The Isthmus and The Capital Times are also good sources. Alternative options are the university's housing, apartments, and cooperatives (or a more comprehensive Madison Community Coop listing).

For those of you who don't have very much time to look for housing, contact property managers (especially if you can get a recommendation of a good landlord) of places you are interested in and schedule a meeting with them. If you don't like that particular place, give the property manager a description of the type of place you are looking for and he or she may be able to tell you if they manage a place like that or not.

Once you have found an apartment, you have to sign a lease and pay a security deposit. Read all the clauses carefully. Some of the apartments do not have heating, electricity and water charges (utilities) included in the rent. Many of them are not furnished, so check for all these things before you sign the lease. If you need to furnish your apartment, you can get decent furniture for a low cost at St. Vincent de Paul Stores. You might also want to check for the availability of laundry facilities and the proximity to local bus routes and grocery stores.

If you have not been to Madison, here are some transportation options on how to get to Madison.

Who to Contact

New students can join the gradchat mailing list to post questions and get answers on just about anything.

What To Do When You Arrive

For those who will be in Madison early, i.e. anytime before the CS orientation day, we would especially encourage you to use the list to communicate with other students to organize things to do or explore the city together. This should help you get to know your peers and places around Madison since many of you will be in a similar situation (alone in a strange place). You might also want to check out the list of administrative things to do as well as fun things to do. The Guide to Graduate Student Life is also an excellent resource.

Some of the information on this website was compiled from the following sites: IGSA, ISS, SACM orientation and SACM prospective weekend.

Quick Links

Getting Settled in Madison

International students

Housing Issues

Rental Housing Information

Real Estate Housing Information