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Finding a Place to Live

Temporary Housing
Room-Hunting Checklist
Recommendations on Housing Sources
Know the Neighborhood
Read the Lease & Ask Your Landlord
Rights as A Renter


There are many different options for renting a living space in the U.S., which can be overwhelming. Deciding what kind of housing you would like (house, apartment, duplex, single room in a home) and how much your monthly rental budget will be is a good place to start.

If you are looking for permanent housing during your stay in Nashville, we have some general tips for you to help with the process.

It may be helpful to review a housing search workshop hosted by our international graduate students. For a link to a recording, contact

Currently, on-campus housing is available only to undergraduate students. There is no on-campus housing available for graduate students at this time.

Temporary Housing

Temporary housing may be necessary while searching for a place to live. If you arrive in Nashville and need temporary housing until you have secured something more permanent, you might consider extended-stay hotels, vacation rentals, or youth hostels.

OneTravel: OneTravel can be used to find affordable hotels near you. This website can also be used to find cheap flights and car rentals.

Room-hunting Checklist

Overwhelmed by a huge amount of housing information, you might wonder “How should I begin my search?” Here is a checklist to help you orient your requirements and narrow down your scope:

  • What is your budget range (including utilities) for your housing?
  • Do you want a roommate? Or do you want a place all by yourself?
  • How close do you want to be to campus?
  • What is your access to transportation? Will you be driving to campus? If not, is there access to public transportation or shuttle nearby? How much time would you want to commit on commuting?
  • What neighborhood do you want to stay at? Is it safe? What is the noise level that you can accept?

Also, when you are looking for rooms/apartments/houses, please note the regulations on the following items:

  • Lease length: How long will your lease be? Is it by month, 6-month long, 12-month long, a sublease, or others?
  • Features: Look if the following features of the room match your requirements: air conditioning, heating, washer & dryer, kitchen appliances, Wi-Fi/internet access, parking, hard-wood floor/carpet, furnished/unfurnished, fitness center & pool.
  • Pet policy: Are pets allowed or not allowed at your place? If so, what types of pet are allowed?
  • Fees: Note that there might be additional fees applied, including admin fee, application fee, pet fee, etc.

For more information about the housing search process and things to consider before you sign your lease, read more here.

Recommendations on Housing Sources

After you have a basic idea of what kind of housing you are looking for, start your searching and take advantage of the following resources:

General Housing Search Engines:

  1. Craigslist: (Click here and learn how to Avoid scams on Cragslist)
  2. Padmapper
  3. Zillow
  4. Hotpad

Vanderbilt My VU Classifieds

VU Off-campus Referral Service: (VUNET ID and password required when logging in)

ISSS Facebook Page

Information from your school/college/department: Contact your program coordinator to see if they know available housing sources.

Know the Neighborhood

Neighborhoods in Nashville can be roughly divided into: Midtown, Downtown, Hillsboro Village, Green Hills, Elliston Place, Belmont Blvd, Edgehill, West End, 12th South, the Gulch, Sobro, Germantown, Berry Hill, East Nashville, Opryland, Sylvan Park, 8th Ave S., etc. The ones marked bold are familiar neighborhoods for Vanderbilt students and scholars.

You can also click the following links for more information:

Visit Music City Neighborhoods

Nashville Guru Neighborhoods

Nashville Guru Moving to Nashville Guide

Read the Lease & Ask Your Landlord

When you are about to sign the lease with your landlord or housing agent, it is usually at the end of your house hunting. However, leases can be tricky. Bear in mind the following tips when you sign your lease:

  • Read and understand your lease. Never sign a lease without reading it first!
  • Write down any additional regulations or amendments on your lease BEFORE you sign it.
  • Check the conditions of appliances and utilities in the room/apartment BEFORE you sign the lease. Report anything that is broken to the landlord BEFORE you sign it.
  • Make a copy of your lease after you sign it.
  • Additional fees may apply: Fees: admin fee, application fee, pet fee

At the same time, ask your landlord or housing agent the following questions to make sure that you are clear about your rights and responsibilities (and double-check if they are on the lease):

  • How should I pay my rent? (By check, by online banking, or by other methods?)
  • Are utilities (water, electricity, gas, heat, etc.) included in my rent? If not, how should I pay for them?
  • Who should I contact if there is something broken in the apartment?
  • What should I do if there is an emergency in the apartment?
  • Is there any restriction on guests/pets/smoking, etc.?
  • Can I sublet my room?

Rights as A Renter

In all circumstances, please be careful and review the terms of your lease agreement before you sign it.

Learn about your rights as a renter in Tennessee here: Rights As A Renter

Considerations Before Signing a Contract

Security Deposits

Security deposits are common in many home and apartment rentals, typically in the amount for the first and last month’s rent, or a similar amount. This deposit covers any potential damages that may occur during the tenant’s stay in the residence, but can often be returned to you if no damages are present. It is important to read any potential lease thoroughly to understand these and other responsibilities before you sign. If you do not have a credit history in the U.S., your landlord may ask you for a higher security deposit, but find out if that is refundable.

Know Before you Sign

Every housing situation is different, but here are a few more tips to help you prepare for the unexpected:

  • No two rental homes or apartments are the same! Some may be furnished or unfurnished, some with or without washers and dryers (or have a communal laundry room), so be sure to ask about any amenities or in-unit additions.
  • When renting an apartment, landlords/rental companies will often look for a monthly income of at least 3 times the monthly rent, but this could vary throughout the city.
  • Requesting a tour of the unit or house you want to rent is beneficial because the photos you see may not be an accurate portrayal of the unit or complex/neighborhood.

Renter’s Insurance

Rental homes and apartments often require a certain amount of renters insurance, so it’s also good to factor this amount into your monthly rental budget. Renter’s insurance helps cover the cost of major damages and also protects your belongings in case of fire, theft, or damage.


As you search for a home or apartment to rent, keep in mind that the posted monthly rental price often does not include utilities (gas, water, electric) and may also include other fees (trash pick-up, pet fee, upkeep fee for pool, gym etc.). However, some apartments may include one or more of these, so make sure you ask! If you pay for utilities separate from your apartment, failure to pay could result in termination of your utility services, so don’t forget to pay it on time. Again, read any rental agreement thoroughly to understand utility expectations beforehand.

If you do not have a Social Security number, you will have to go in person to the Nashville Electric Service in person to pay the security deposit and activate your service. Visit for more information.