Assistance with finding housing is offered to MSRI’s program organizers, research professors, postdocs, and research members staying for a minimum of 30 consecutive days. Please submit the online housing assistance request form; the link is provided in your invitation letter.
The rental housing market in Berkeley is quite limited and highly competitive. It would be impossible to find 80 new rentals each semester, therefore we try to keep some rentals revolving among MSRI visitors from year to year. To this end, we rely on maintaining good relations with a core group of property owners and managers. Please keep in mind that the housing located through our service is intended solely for the duration of your stay at MSRI.
The MSRI Housing Advisor will be in touch with those who request housing assistance a few months before their scheduled arrival with housing suggestions. In order to make an informed decision about housing options, it would be helpful to acquaint yourself with the cost, location, size, and availability of housing units through sites such as sabbaticalhomes.com soon after you register, so you will be better equipped to evaluate housing choices for your stay.
Types of rentals
Rental listings come from a variety of sources and describe varied types of dwellings. In addition to sabbatical homes and traditional apartments in multi-unit buildings that have been furnished with the university visitor in mind, many of the short term rentals are in-law units (a private or semi-private area at a single family home) and garden cottages (independent structure usually located at the rear of a single family property). A room rental in a family home may be another option for a visitor who does not require complete privacy.
All of the furnished apartments provide at least the basic furniture and housewares, but visitors may need to bring or acquire personal items, e.g. sheets, blankets, pillows, and various kitchen items.
Distances to MSRI
For your planning purposes, please note that MSRI is up a very steep hill from the U.C. Berkeley campus, accessible mostly by shuttle bus caught at Evans Hall / Mining Circle on the U.C. campus.
Please use Google Maps to check the distance from housing properties to Evans Hall.
MSRI may be accessible from residences in the Berkeley hills via public bus lines.
MSRI is accessible via many scenic and pleasant footpaths in Berkeley. Please note that though the distances of these paths may be short, the inclines are steep and there is little or no cell phone service from these paths.
Typical monthly rents for semester and academic year rentals
- Rooms in private homes: $900 - $1,400
- Studios (apartment with combined living room-bedroom), many of which are in-law units (independent unit at a private home): $1,400 - $2,700+
- One-bedroom apartments: $2,900 - $3,900+
- Two-bedroom apartments: $3,500 - $4,500+
- Sabbatical houses are a major source of housing for visitors coming with families for the year or one semester. Smaller bungalow type homes, usually 2 bedrooms, range between $3,800 - $4,500+, while larger 3-4 bedroom homes range from $4,500 - $6,500+
- Although rents may be slightly lower in neighboring communities, most are open rental market apartments, advertised only 30 days in advance of availability. There are usually many applicants for open market rentals, in Berkeley as well as the surrounding areas, and most owners prefer to meet the prospective tenant in person.
Financial Planning; Payment schedule
A deposit is usually required to hold a rental (often in the amount of one month's rent) payable by U.S. bank check, transfer of funds, or International Money Order (where available). It is customary for the payment of rent and/or the refundable security deposit to be due before or on arrival. Thereafter it is customary for the rent to be due in advance on a monthly basis. Please note that MSRI issues per diem and stipend checks only once per month, on the last day of each month. It is important to plan accordingly and arrive with funds sufficient to pay the rent (and subsistence) in advance of receiving your first check from MSRI.
Length of leases and rental agreements
Sabbatical homes are usually rented on a full semester (5 months) or an academic year (10 months) basis.
While some landlords will rent for four months, others require a five month lease period. Usually payment for full months is required even if your arrival/departure schedule is shorter. Some owners will rent on a semester basis only if the unit will be occupied for the full academic year, therefore second-semester arrangements are sometimes formalized the preceding spring in conjunction with a first-semester lease.
Online Housing Resources
There is a limited supply of furnished apartments that will rent on a shorter term basis, generally 1-3
months. Most of these are studios or one bedroom apartments.
Prices are often higher than the ranges listed above. A two or three bedroom apartment or house that’s available for 1-3 months is a rare find indeed. Unfortunately, it has become nearly impossible to find housing in Berkeley for families visiting for less than a full semester. We recommend that visitors in this 1-3 month category try to locate housing using online resources where owners prefer to negotiate directly with the visitor. Following is a list of suggested sites:
- www.vrbo.com (Vacation Rentals By Owner)
Additional online resources for semester-long visitors: www.sabbaticalhomes.com
Recommended neighborhoods include Berkeley, Berkeley North/Hills, Albany/El Cerrito, Oakland Rockridge/Claremont.
MSRI's postdocs and research scholars are eligible to search the rental housing listings from U.C. Berkeley's "Cal Rentals", Faculty & Staff Services. The correct category is named "Newcomer/Affiliate" under "Other Eligible Faculty/Staff Customer" on their website. You will need to verify eligibility by sending a copy of your MSRI invitation letter to Cal Rentals. Further details and sign up info: och.berkeley.edu.
MSRI's program associates (graduate students) are eligible to search rental housing listings from U.C. Berkeley's "Cal Rentals" in the Student Services category called "Other Eligible Student Customer." You will need to verify eligibility by sending Cal Rentals a copy of your MSRI invitation letter. Further details and sign up info: Cal Rentals.
Disclaimer and Caution: We suggest you use caution in using any online site, particularly if substantial advance payment is demanded. This information is provided as a matter of service only. Users of the online sites on this list communicate, contract and do business with individuals, companies or firms at their own risk. The Regents, Directors, and employees of U.C. Berkeley and MSRI shall not be liable for any resulting events.