Carnegie Mellon University

Housing

Carnegie Mellon University offers a variety of housing services to international students and scholars. These services vary significantly depending on whether you are an international undergraduate, graduate or exchange student, or an international scholar (visiting researcher or professor). The subsections of this Housing section in the Settling In Guide address the specifics for each of the five unique groups which are served by OIE:

  • International undergraduates (F & J students)
  • Exchange students from Carnegie Mellon University campuses abroad (F students)
  • Exchange students (J students)
  • International graduate students (F & J students)
  • International scholars (J-1 researchers, professors, short-term scholars and student interns)

In summary, traditional dormitory style and apartment housing is maintained by Carnegie Mellon for undergraduate and exchange students during the regular academic terms. Graduate students and visiting scholars independently arrange for housing at off-campus locations, sometimes with the assistance of the home academic department and the resources available on the Off-Campus Housing website.

International students and scholars should anticipate a brief stay at a hotel or with a friend immediately upon arrival to Pittsburgh. Exceptions include new international undergraduates and exchange students who arrive on the scheduled Move-in Day prior to the start of the classes.

All new first-year students live in campus housing and some exchange students elect to live in campus housing maintained by Carnegie Mellon. There are traditional residential dormitories and apartment-style living options. First-year students must follow the instructions in the Welcome Packet and submit their Housing Application and Housing License Agreement as instructed.

Please be advised that due to summer housing demands and building maintenance, you are not permitted to enter your living space before the official Move-In Day. More information is available at Housing Services website.

For parents and friends, a list of accommodations close to the campus is listed in the “Temporary Housing” section. Reservations will be necessary as this is a very busy time of the year. Be sure to ask for a Carnegie Mellon University discount when making reservations.

On-campus housing for exchange students cannot be guaranteed but will be assigned based on availability. Please refer to the Housing Services website for more information.

Carnegie Mellon University lists local hotel accommodations close to the Carnegie Mellon campus should this be necessary. Rates are per night and reservations are necessary as this is a very busy time of the year. Be sure to ask for a Carnegie Mellon University discount when making reservations.

Rates are estimated and subject to increase. Taxes are not included in the rates indicated.

  • Most landlords and management companies in the Pittsburgh area require one-year leases for all of their properties and units. However, there are some companies who may be able to provide short-term or temporary housing options
  • Information on local hotels is available on the Carnegie Mellon University website.
  • For more information on off-campus housing, visit the Off-Campus Housing website.

New graduate students, visiting scholars and exchange students who do not live on campus will need to search for off-campus housing independently. The search for off-campus housing is perhaps the biggest source of anxiety for new international students and scholars. Most current students recommend arriving several weeks before classes start so you have ample time to get settled before you become involved in academic life. A challenge for one-semester exchange students is that it can be difficult to find a landlord who will rent for one semester only; most leases are for a full year. August and early September mark the start of the academic year at 10 local colleges and universities in Pittsburgh; new leases are at a premium at this time. 

Housing is reasonably priced in comparison with major US cities. Most rental leases start on the first of each month with the most common start dates being the first of June, July, August, and September. If you already have a Carnegie Mellon e-mail address, you can access the Off-Campus Housing webpage for more detailed information on housing and related issues and to search Carnegie Mellon’s database of local apartment listings.

Housing Services offers additional resources for searching for off-campus housing on their website.

Renter’s Insurance

Renter’s insurance is relatively inexpensive and should be purchased after arrival. It is highly recommended because the landlord’s property insurance policy that covers the physical dwelling will not cover your possessions inside of the building. Renter's insurance will cover your personal property, such as furniture or electronic equipment should there be damage from fire, theft, etc.

Neighborhoods in Pittsburgh

The following neighborhoods are located within a two-mile radius of Carnegie Mellon University. They are grouped and listed according to their proximity and convenience to the Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh campus. Off-Campus Housing has more information about each of these neighborhoods. Also, consider purchasing the Pittsburgh Street Finder, a street guide to Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas available from Amazon.com.

  • Oakland, Shadyside, and Squirrel Hill: Most Carnegie Mellon  students choose to live in these three areas because they are closest to campus.  Some residences are on the CMU Escort route.
  • Bloomfield, Greenfield: These neighborhoods are farther away from campus but also within walking distance to Carnegie Mellon and on city bus routes.
  • Friendship, Point Breeze, Highland Park: These are even farther away from Carnegie Mellon  than those above but still within commuting distance and on city bus lines. 

Different Types of Rental Housing

Rental costs depend on location, size, condition and whether utilities (gas, water, and electric) are included. Although you cannot - and should not - rent housing before you visit the actual location, informing yourself before you arrive and arriving early will make the housing search a much smoother and less anxious experience.

  • Room in Private Home: One room with a shared bathroom and a shared kitchen located in a private home or a large house with many such rooms. These rooms are usually furnished.
  • Efficiencies/Studios: A small one or two room combination of living room, kitchenette, and bathroom. The price range for studios is, on average, $450 - $800 a month.
  • 1, 2, 3+ Bedroom Apartments: An apartment including one or more bedrooms, a living-dining area, a kitchen, and a bathroom. The price range for one-bedroom apartments is approximately $575 - $1000, for two-bedroom apartments, the price range is about $700 - $1200.
  • Houses: A one or two family style home in which a group of students share kitchen and bathroom facilities. In addition to full houses, the area near the University has many town houses, which are built in rows sharing common walls between each dwelling. Some houses include a car garage, a basement and/or a yard.

Resources to Use for Listing of Rental Housing Units

The Carnegie Mellon Off-Campus Housing Office has its own housing listings on the web site. Other helpful sources are the classified sections of the local newspapers such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette or Tribune Review. The Sunday edition of the newspaper has the most comprehensive listings. Many students also use craigslist or CMU electronic bulletin boards. To access Carnegie Mellon bulletin boards, you will need a CMU email account. You will receive email account information from your department as soon as it becomes available. Electronic bulletin boards are also a great place to find furniture and other necessary household items. Off-Campus Housing has complete instructions on how to subscribe to b-boards.

Utilities and Paying Bills

Bills in the US are commonly paid by personal checks available through your US bank. In most cases, you may set up automatic bill payment which enables you to pay bills electronically, directly from your bank account.

Some apartments may include utilities like gas, electric and water. However, in most cases you will have to contact the utility companies directly to set up and pay for service for your apartment. When looking for an apartment, be sure to include the cost of utilities in your monthly rent estimate. It is strongly recommended that you request an estimate of the previous tenant’s utility bills by calling the utility company directly. Note that heating bills can be very high in the winter (over $100 depending upon the type of heat and size of apartment). Listed below are some major utility providers:

ELECTRICITY Duquesne Light 1-888-393-7100
FirstEnergy 1-888-544-4877
GAS Peoples Natural Gas 1-800-764-0111
LOCAL TELEPHONE Verizon 1-800-660-2215

Note: Some students are told that they need a US Social Security Number (SSN) before they are able to establish telephone or other utility services. This information is incorrect. Students who do not have an SSN may have to complete an application and submit copies of documents (such as a passport and a student ID) and may have to pay a deposit. If the employee you are speaking with seems unaware of the procedure for starting service without an SSN, politely ask to speak with a manager or call back and talk to another employee.