Housing Guide

Ithaca Is a college town so a large percentage of the housing market is short term rentals. Below you will find some tips and resources regarding finding places to rent in the area.


Make sure you take note of the average renting prices so you don't get ripped off. Prices can vary drastically in Ithaca depending on location and unit age. If you want to live in Collegetown expect to pay significantly more than the average, some may even be double or triple what a different location unit would be worth. On the other hand, rentals in Fall Creek and housing by North Campus tends to be the least expensive. In Ithaca, the price per room dramatically decreases with an increase in the number of bedrooms.

If you are looking to save on rent, and don't mind commuting, all near-by cities/towns (within 40 miles) are generally at least 25% cheaper. Binghamton is the cheapest with 2 bedroom rentals averaging around $550.

Organizing Your Search

  1. Find out if you're eligible for low-income housing, utilities, cable, etc. It may take awhile to get approved, so make these calls early!

  2. Organize & write down your wants/needs. For example do you want: roommates? a house or a unit in an apartment complex? dishwasher necessary? washer/dryer is in the unit, on the premise, or not provided at all? do you have pets? How close to campus? need parking? Do you smoke? etc.

  3. Look for ads on Craigslist (housing, rooms/share), the Cornell university websites, Uloop, realitors, rental agencies, etc.

  4. Set up a Google Map (this is really easy if you already have a Gmail account) where you can store all the potential places. This will allow you to compare the locations of the places, i.e. how far they are from campus or downtown. You can even share the map with potential housemates/roommates.

  5. Talk to friends who have lived in Ithaca and scratch out the crappy places; keep these notes so you'll remember which places to avoid like the plague.

  6. With your google map list up on the screen, start calling/emailing the person in charge of selling each place, run down your list of requirements/wants, and note the price, availability, and attitude of the person answering the phone. Schedule an appointment if the place sounds appealing.

  7. If you are out of town and can't visit the place, ask for pictures, and see if one of your Ithaca buddies can scout out the places you like the best.

  8. When you look at a place, take notes - don't assume you'll remember the details of each place later.

  9. For a detailed list of things to look out for when searching for a place see Housing standards for Renters. Also look at Cornell's checklist at http://offcampushousingoffice.cornell.edu.

To Live by Yourself or with Others

If you're about to rent a place in Ithaca, consider whether you want to live with housemates, roommates or by yourself. If you choose to live with housemates, start by figuring out how many people you can bear to live with, whether you want to have your own room or share one, whether you want to live in a single-sex environment, and whether you mind living with strangers. The pros for living with others include cheaper rent, shared responsibilities, and emotional bonding. Living by yourself is more expensive (including utility bills), and for some, can be quite lonely. However, it does provide added privacy, quietness, and not having to worry about how other people are behaving. If you choose to live with others start asking around and see who you want to live with. If you don't mind living with strangers, you can look for rooms in apartments that have already been purchased by others. This can often be cheaper than having a predetermined set of people you want to live with.

See Roommate Guide. Cornell also has a house mate compatibility questionnaire at http://offcampushousing.cornell.edu


See Apartments. Cornell also has a list of local complexes and other rental listings http://offcampushousing.cornell.edu.

Property Managers

Be very wary of property managers, who typically take a portion of the rent in exchange for finding tenants and taking care of any tenant problems/repairs. (See Property Managers for all management groups, and check out Slum Lords for places with bad reputations.

Cornell University Services

Cornell provides information for on campus housing at their website. They also have information on off campus housing, and a local listing to search for this off campus housing .