While studying at SIPA for the past two years, I have had the opportunity to live in Columbia Residential housing and have loved it! This article is about my experience.

Housing Options
Columbia Residential manages 150 apartment buildings and the housing options vary between shared and individual apartments.

Shared Apartments:
The majority of students in university housing live in shared apartments. My friends in shared apartments have their own room, and share the common areas (living spaces, kitchen, bathroom) with roommates. Their roommates are from graduate schools across Columbia University, which has been a great way for them to break out of the SIPA bubble and meet students in other graduate programs. Note that shared apartments are for individual students only (i.e. spouses/partners, family members and friends cannot share a room with student residents). Many of these apartments are already furnished with the basics, but students still need to buy their own sheets, towels, plates, etc.

Individual Apartments:
Other students, couples, and families, opt to live in individual apartments, and Columbia Residential also offers studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments**. Most individual apartments are not furnished, but mine had furniture (which was convenient because we moved to NYC from abroad)!

Photo courtesy of Columbia Residential

**The eligibility requirements for the apartments vary, you can find them on the Accommodations page, which also has more details on housing options and photos.

In terms of locations, the residences are located around campus, with most concentrated between 103rd to 125th street. Living in Columbia Residential housing has been so convenient – I live within walking distance to campus and the International Affairs building, which makes it very easy to get to classes, access the libraries, gym, and spend time on campus. Check out where the housing is located here.

The amenities vary by building. Mine has utilities, heat, and internet included in the rent. We also have an awesome team that maintains our building – the shared spaces in our building are very clean, while service requests are handled efficiently. Some buildings even have a doorman!

Other perks – our building has laundry machines in the building (which I have come to learn is a luxury in NYC). We also have an elevator, which is a huge upgrade from the 5th floor walk-up where I lived before moving to NYC.

Dog Climbing Stairs GIFs | Tenor

Columbia Residential Housing has been a great option for me. I have enjoyed the convenience of living near campus as well as the amenities. Note that Columbia Housing is a lottery – placement is not guaranteed and only 40% of incoming students are able to secure a spot. If it doesn’t pan out, there are other great apartment options around campus.

Alternative Housing Options:
The Columbia Off-Campus Housing Assistant (OCHA) Office provides some support and information for students that decide to live off-campus. International House is another option. There are other external (non-Columbia) housing websites that you can use to search for off-campus housing like RentHop, Apartments.com, and StreetEasy***. For tips on NYC apartment hunting, be sure to check out Cata’s post here.

***SIPA is not affiliated with RentHop, Apartments.com, StreetEasy, or Insurent.


Questions about Columbia Residential housing can be addressed to Columbia Residential directly. The Housing office can be reached by telephone at 212-854-9300 or email residential@columbia.edu.

Housing Blog Posts
Make sure to check out my favorite SIPA Admissions blog posts on housing:

Columbia Residential Housing:

  • Pros and Cons of University Housing (here)
  • Staples Guide to University Apartment Housing (here)

NYC Apartment Hunting:

  • Apartment Hunting in NYC (Cata’s post, mentioned before) (here)
  • Housing Hustle (here)
  • Exploring NYC Neighborhoods (here)
  • NYC Housing Advice (here)
  • A Texas Transplant’s Take on the NYC Housing Market (here)