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University of Virginia housing guide

On-Grounds versus Off-Grounds housing — we review the pros and cons

The Lawn

Location: Located at the heart of the University, Lawn rooms house 54 fourth-year students, selected for the rooms through a competitive application process. The Lawn is also home to the Rotunda, the University's original library, and serves as a venue for a wide range of student activities.

Walking distance to Central Grounds: The Lawn is in the center of the University, and is among the closest locations to classes and nightlife.

Layout: The rooms are furnished with a twin-size bed, desk, built-in closet, rocking chair and sink. All rooms but one (room 50) have a fireplace.

Cost: A single bedroom with fireplace costs $6,170 for the academic year, and a single bedroom with no fireplace costs $6,020.

Pros: The Lawn is conveniently located and the community is vibrant. Residents, students and visiting members of the Charlottesville community make for a continually bustling atmosphere.

“The Lawn is an incredible place to live on a personal level," said fourth-year College student Sky Miller, Senior Resident of the Lawn. "It is beautiful, right in the center of the University, social, and convenient. Additionally, the community is one of the most dynamic, motivating, and stimulating groups I have lived with.”

Annual traditions like Trick-or-Treating on the Lawn and Lighting of the Lawn also add to the Lawn's atmosphere.

Cons: Though convenient and prestigious, living in a Lawn room has its downsides. Prospective Lawn residents must undergo a difficult application process to get a spot. This year, 310 people applied for 47 spots, with an average GPA of 3.78. The remaining rooms are endowed or reserved by certain organizations with separate selection processes. Lawn rooms are lacking in privacy and some essential amenities— residents have to walk outside to use the showers and bathrooms. “It has not been a problem yet, but it might be in the cold winter days,” fourth-year Engineering student Mohammed Shafi said. “I also would like to see air conditionings in the rooms. It gets very hot over here during summertime.” The current Rotunda construction process has also somewhat decreased the aesthetic benefits of the location. 

— compiled by Hanan Yazid


Location: Bice is situated at the end of Brandon Avenue, just behind South Lawn, about a block away from the Elson Student Health Center.

Walking distance to Central Grounds: Getting to Central Grounds from Bice is only about a five- to 10-minute walk — at the mercy of the traffic light at the corner of Brandon Avenue and Jefferson Park Avenue. It's also a stair-heavy commute.

Layout: Bice offers two- and three-bedroom apartments, and all rooms are doubles. Two-bedroom apartments generally have one bathroom and three-bedroom apartments have two. All apartments have an open living room and full kitchenette. Cost: $5,930 per year

Pros: Bice is close to Central Grounds, the University Health System and the Corner.

“Getting to class is never that bad, even the [Engineering School] doesn’t take that long," second-year Engineering student Brooke Sutherland said. "It’s a pretty good location, and it’s still easy to go out."

Bice also comes fully furnished, which can be a big cost-saver compared to off-Grounds locations. The rooms are also all air-conditioned, which offers a nice reprieve from many off-Grounds housing options.

Cons: As it is technically a dorm, Bice has many of the same regulations and codes as first-year dorms, such as a ban on curtains, candles, hot plates and knives longer than three inches.

“There’s still coverage, so you’re still aware that [residential advisors] are there, but it’s not as strict as first-year dorms,” second-year College student Devaansh Bawa said.

All bedrooms are shared, and notoriously small. Some residents complain the rooms also have poor ventilation.

— compiled by Meg Thornberry

International Residential College

Location: The International Residential College's four buildings sit at the corner of Emmet Street and Ivy Road, opening onto Sprigg Lane, which runs between the IRC and Alumni Hall. It is in across the street from the Cavalier Inn and the Snyder Tennis Courts and Memorial Gym.

Walking distance to Central Grounds: The IRC is less than a 10-minute walk to Newcomb Hall, with the Lawn and the Amphitheatre just a few minutes farther.

Layout: Each of the complex's four buildings has a different layout.

Munford's all-female residents live in hall-style rooms — a mixture of singles and doubles. The second and third floors are fully residential, each with a lounge and large kitchen. The first floor is comprised of meeting/study spaces, offices, a laundry room, the Senior Resident’s apartment and a small corridor of four men’s rooms. The building has heating but no air conditioning.

Gwathmey houses about 120 residents of all years, and each sex-separated floor has a mix of singles and doubles. Each floor has a bathroom and kitchen in the center block, and the first and second floors both have lounges. Laundry room are located in the basement and the building has heating but no air conditioning.

Lewis houses about 60 upperclassmen residents. All three floors are suite style and have a kitchen. All rooms have heating and air conditioning. Some rooms have a private bathroom but most are shared. A laundry room and mailboxes for Lewis and Hoxton are located on the bottom floor.

Hoxton houses about 40 residents, also all upperclassmen. Both floors are suite style and have a kitchen. All rooms have heating and air conditioning. Each floor has residents of both genders.

Cost: Doubles cost $5,500. Singles vary by building. Munford and Gwathmey single rooms are $6,170; Lewis and Hoxton single rooms are $6,450. Lewis and Hoxton rooms with private baths are $6,660.

Pros: The IRC is certainly well-suited for students who want an international touch to their University experience, as 40 percent of the residents come from abroad. In addition, the IRC is widely known for its free food offerings — including its recurring weekly events The Week That Was on Fridays, and Darjeeling Tea on Thursdays.

“The IRC has been really great, especially when combined with a smaller meal plan since there are so many free food events," third-year Engineering student Kate Highnam said. "The events are also frequently multicultural and provide opportunities for me to try things I never would have tried on my own before. … The location is pretty good, especially when compared to other off-Grounds housing locations, and you get to interact with faculty through a mentor program where they help you with real life, unlike course advisors.”

Cons: Like all other University-owned housing, the IRC comes with a full roster of residential advisors — not inherently a negative, but when coupled with dorm regulations, such as how many posters you can hang on your walls, it is certainly a more regulated living experience than other offerings. Also, many of the international students who live in the IRC are part of exchange programs, and as such only live at the University for a single semester or year. Some of the new friends you make may only be around for a few months.

“The exchange students leave every semester, which can be a downer for plans to attend events that only happen in the semester they're not here,” Highnam said.

— compiled by Peter Nance


Location: Faulkner is a cluster of apartment buildings located behind John Paul Jones Arena, next to Klöckner Stadium.

Walking distance to Central Grounds: The complex is about a 20-minute walk to most classes — and farther to most nightlife venues. Students are best off biking or taking the Northline or Central Grounds Shuttle.

Layout: Each suite includes four bedrooms — including three standard singles, one large single — a bathroom, a living and dining room, and a full kitchen with stove, refrigerator and sink. The apartments come furnished and each includes air conditioning.

Cost: Four bedrooms of single occupancy, each costing $6,660.

Pros: For fans of quiet and single bedrooms, Faulkner is a perfect option.

“My favorite thing about Faulkner is that it is super secluded and peaceful — and [it] comes with a gazebo," second-year College student Kayla Taylor said. "And the fact that you get your own room doesn't hurt either.”

Though far from Central Grounds, Faulkner's location comes with its own benefits.

“It’s a quiet and beautiful area, we’re a quick minute away from Barracks, we’re so close to a lot of the great sports games — field hockey, soccer, baseball, basketball — and our apartment is really spacious with single bedrooms," second-year College student Hannah Schmidt said.

It also offers more convenient parking options that many other on-Grounds and off-Grounds locations.

“[There are] big parking lots," second-year College student Emily Votroubek said. "Lots of parking spaces for people who come on weekends to park."

Cons: The biggest gripe about Faulkner housing is its distance.

“It is far away," Votroubek said. "We depend on the bus system. … If you get out a little too late, you’re kind of stuck since the bus won’t come for a while, and you may be late.”

Votroubek said it takes about eight minutes to get to Grounds via bus.

“I think it's far away more in people's minds than in reality," Schmidt said. "I even walk to Grounds sometimes if it's a pretty day, and that takes only about 20 minutes. Even when I take the bus, I don't see it as a con, because [University Transit Service] is pretty great. There are two bus routes that run by Faulkner, so I'm never waiting very long.”

— compiled by Julia Skorcz


Location: Copeley apartments are situated on North Grounds, by the Law School. They're nestled among the Darden School, the North Grounds Recreation Center and Barracks Road Shopping Center.

Walking distance to Central Grounds: A 25+ minute walk to most classes and nightlife options, Copeley is also located along the Northline bus route.

Layout: Apartments include 1-and-a-half baths, a living room and kitchen with a stove, refrigerator and sink. Single bedrooms are now furnished with full-size beds.

Cost: Two-bedroom apartments with double occupancy cost $5,930. Single-occupancy rooms cost $6,660.

Pros: Copeley offers a quiet environment, tucked among graduate school buildings rather than bars and restaurants.

“Copeley is the perfect place to live," said fourth-year College student Trayc Freeman, who opted to stay in the complex for a second year after transferring to the University last year. "It is not in the boondocks like [University Place] but not in the center of Grounds like Brown. … Not only are the rooms extremely spacious but we are also provided with a full size bed, which is a nice step up from the twin.”

Cons: Despite its close proximity to Barracks, Copeley is far removed from the central parts of University life. Walking to Central Grounds — a near-30 minute endeavor — is particularly trying during the colder months.

"The facilities were nice — comparable to Lambeth — but I struggled the whole year to feel a part of the same Grounds as everyone else," said fourth-year Commerce student Jared Morgan, who lived in Copeley his second year. "Missing a bus in the morning meant missing an entire class. Also, if SafeRide was busy, it was really difficult to get home after going out on the weekends."

There is also a weaker sense of community among Copeley residents than other housing options, Morgan said.

"There wasn't a strong sense of community there like there is in first-year dorms, Lambeth, or even a lot of off-Grounds apartments and housing areas," Morgan said. "As I understand it, Copeley ... used to be graduate student housing. That sounds much more fitting to me, given the location, and I don't recommend it to fellow undergrads." 

— compiled by Alexis Jones

La Maison Française

Location: La Maison Française is located in the Barringer Mansion, 1404 Jefferson Park Avenue, between the Medical Center and the Elson Student Health Center. Walking distance to Central Grounds: The house is a five-to-10 minute walk to most classes — notably closest to South Lawn and New Cabell.

Layout: The Maison has 17 bedrooms: one triple, eight doubles, and eight singles. This number excludes the rooms reserved for resident staff and the French assistants. Rooms are assigned through lottery, with preference given to fourth-year and returning students. On the first floor, the Maison has a large living-room, a library, a seminar room and a dining room. Each room is air-conditioned, with one or two beds and desks.

Cost: Doubles cost $5,930 and single rooms cost $6,660.

Pros: La Maison Française provides a unique environment with a close-knit community of French speakers. It continuously hosts French culture and cuisine-related events, which are typically open to guests.

“Most people here are just passionate about French culture and want to incorporate it into their daily lives,” second-year College student Catherine Sheehan said.

In an environment of complete francophile immersion, all the residents converse solely in French.

Cons: There are a limited number of occupants, which is regulated by an application process, with room preference given to returning students. Random allocation for new residents limits choice for new residents.

Residents must have a meal plan. Parking can also be an issue as there is no reserved parking available.

Not all of the residents are studying French at the University, and are at different levels in their knowledge of French, which can also make the immersive experience a hit or miss.

— compiled by Yash Shevde and Kristen Cugini

La Casa Bolivar

Location: La Casa Bolivar is located on Jefferson Park Avenue, next to Student Health and the Medical Center.

Walking distance to Central Grounds: As with the French and Shea houses, La Casa Bolivar is a five or 10 minute walk to most on-Grounds locations.

Layout: Each bedroom within the house is either single- or double-occupancy and is furnished with the requisite number of extra-long twin beds, wardrobes, desks with carrels and chairs. Rooms have hardwood floors and all are air conditioned. There are also common areas, a kitchen, satellite television and laundry facilities.

Cost: Double rooms run $5,930 for the academic year singles cost $6,660.

Pros: The experience can improve language skills and expose students to different cultures, creating a community among the house's residents. The house offers tutoring, cultural dinners, social gatherings, literary and film clubs — many of which are open to any University student.

“My skills have gotten a million times better since living here,” second-year College student Effie Smith said. “We have native speakers who live here as well so they give you tips on slang in the language. You get to see these different aspects of it that you wouldn’t normally.”

Cons: The house's residents are determined by a moderately competitive application process, which can make it one of the riskier on-Grounds housing locations. Also, though it is located close to many University facilities, students with cars may struggle with the residence.

"The recent change in parking policy so that we no longer have space behind the house to park has been a major inconvenience," third-year College student Daniel Justus said.

— compiled by Yash Shevde and Kristen Cugini

Shea House

Location: The Shea House is located on 400 Monroe Lane at the intersection of Jefferson Park Avenue and Monroe Lane. It is between the Elson Student Health Center and La Casa Bolivar.

Walking distance to Central Grounds: Shea House is a five or 10-minute walk to Grounds.

Layout: The Shea House has eight residential blocks for Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Hindi-Urdu, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Persian. Residential blocks are stratified by floor. The layout of floor is hall style, and rooms are either double or single. Each floor has its own common room, and study rooms are on the second floor. Amenities include central heating, air conditioning, laundry facilities, an in-house kitchen, and an elevator.

Cost: Rates for the Shea House are $5,070 a year for double-occupancy rooms and $5,590 a year for single-occupancy rooms. 

Pros: Shea House provides an immersive international atmosphere and has the broadest range of languages among the international residences. Language Assistants reside on each floor to help with the language immersion experience, which facilitates linguistic proficiency. “The location is excellent, and it’s great being around people who share the same enthusiasm about learning different languages and cultures,” second-year College student Sudiksha Jain said. Other pros include a flexible application process, which is conducted on a rolling basis, a strong system of self-governance within the building, and the opportunity to meet others with similar cultural and language interests.

Cons: The number of single rooms is limited, and specific rooms cannot be requested. Roommate requests are not guaranteed and are restricted to residents of the same language. Parking options are limited, with only six free parking spots available on Monroe Lane, which are on a first-come first-serve basis.

Furthermore, residence in Shea House demands mandatory participation in language and cultural activities, and active commitment is expected. “You have to eat dinner with your floor Monday through Thursday, plus do one language hour per week,” fourth-year College student Thomas Kurpit said. “I understand the importance of these [cultural] events and why we have to do them, but it can get annoying when you have a heavy workload.” 

— compiled by Nancy Lee


Location: Hereford Residential College is located on the south side of Observatory Hill next to the upperclass and transfer focused community Johnson, Malone and Weedon (JMW) on Hereford Drive adjacent to Runk Dining Hall and the Gooch-Dillard dorms.

Walking distance to Central Grounds: Hereford is about a 20 minute walk to Newcomb and the Amphitheatre. Buses to Central Grounds stop at Hereford every 10 minutes during peak times.

Layout: The two buildings of Hereford — Norris and Whyburn Houses — are hall style, co-ed and single-sex by floor, housing students of all years. Most of the rooms are singles, though there are some doubles. All rooms are air conditioned and there are lounges on the end of each hall, while a kitchen is located on the ground floor of each building.

Cost: A double costs $5,500, while a single costs $5,700. Students are also required to buy a Residential Meal Plan.

Pros: The Hereford community is very active in terms of organizing programs for its residents. Hereford offers one-credit courses taught by faculty fellows, such as Local Foods: From Garden to Table and Shakespeare Stage and Screen.

“I was only in my room when I was asleep, all other times I was with my Herefordian family doing things we loved to do: gardening, hiking, working, singing, cooking, and all the time enjoying our little patch of emerald on the hill,” fourth-year College student Alex Bryant said.

Cons: Even compared to most off-Grounds housing, Hereford is far from Central Grounds, taking almost 30 minutes to walk to the Lawn. Bryant admitted that, though he loves the community, living there certainly involved “having to walk a little further.”

Anyone planning to live in Hereford and also frequent the Corner or Rugby may want to invest in a bike or memorize the bus routes, particularly for the winter months.

— compiled by Peter Nance

Brown College

Location: Brown College is located on Monroe Hill in the middle of Central Grounds, nestled in between Newcomb and McCormick roads and a short walk from the Lawn.

Walking distance to Central Grounds: Brown College is at the heart of Central Grounds and is no more than a five minute walk from most classrooms, with the exception of the Arts Grounds and the Architecture School.

Layout: Brown College is made up of 12 buildings — called portals — each of which is connected by underground tunnels. Each portal has three sex-segregated floors. There are four suites on each floor, and each suite contains two single-occupancy rooms. Two or four of the suites are then connected via a communal bathroom. Brown College also has communal kitchen and living spaces, though not in each suite or portal.

Cost: A single room at Brown College costs $6,380 per academic year. Brown residents are also required to purchase a meal plan, which includes everyday meals and special monthly banquets.

Pros: Brown prides itself on forming a tight-knit community of students.

“The Brown community is really unique — there's nothing else like it at U.Va.,” second-year Engineering student Leah Walter said.

Walter said he appreciates the practicality of being situated on Monroe Hill.

“You really can’t beat the location,” said Walter. “My farthest class is a three-minute walk away.”

Cons: Brown faces problems associated with any aging building.

“Because Brown is on the older side, various building issues are common, such as kitchen floods, bugs and leaks,” Walter said.

Additionally, though its rooms are single-occupancy, residents must walk through their roommates' rooms to access the bathrooms or exit the suite.

— compiled by Jane Winthrop

Jefferson Park Avenue

Location: Jefferson Park Avenue stretches from the edge of the Medical Center to Scott Stadium, with several connecting roads and avenues.

Walking distance to Central Grounds: JPA housing residences average about a 15-minute walk to Central Grounds. The road includes four University Transit System Outer Loop bus stops. It is also serviced by the Free Trolley.

Pros: Jefferson Park Avenue housing is away from the busy Corner while still being a short walk from most classes at Central Grounds. Because of its location, it is generally not as expensive as other housing options and offers more alternatives to live in a house rather than an apartment.

“I like living on JPA because it’s a house rather than an apartment, and it’s cheap," second-year College student Robbie Katrandjiyski said. "You have your own parking spot and typically don’t have to pay for parking because there’s enough room.”

JPA housing is also a quieter alternative compared to other areas in Charlottesville and the University, second-year College student William Stribling said.

“I didn’t want to be on the 14th Street area because there’s a lot of activity there all of the time, and I feel like I would never get anything done,” Stribling said. “JPA is close to Grounds, so I can still be around activity and then come home and relax.”

Cons: While being close to Central Grounds, JPA is a long walk from the Corner, where many other student housing options and businesses are located.

“It’s a long ways away from the Corner, which makes walks home on the weekends and friends’ apartments inconvenient,” Katrandjiyski said. “I have to make a very conscious effort to see them. I can’t just pop by for a visit due to the location.”

Stribling said there is no straight, convenient walking route from JPA to Central Grounds.

“To get to the area around the Amphitheatre or the Corner, it’s hard to find direct sidewalks from JPA to those areas, making it weirdly roundabout,” Stribling said.

— compiled by Rachel Taylor

14th/Wertland Street

Location: Behind the Corner, housing options range northeast along 14th Street and east along Wertland street.

Walking distance to Central Grounds: Though locations vary, the average walk to Grounds is 10 minutes — with buildings farther down 14th Street taking closer to 20 minutes.

Pros: Located behind the Corner, Wertland Street and 14th Street are strong options for students seeking proximity to the University's nightlife and food options.

Second-year College student William Henagan said the area offers a strong social atmosphere.

“We were able to sign an early lease with a bunch of different friends, so it’s not just me and the four guys that I live with,” Henagan said. “CBS [Rentals] allowed us to sign the top two apartments, and we also had friends who we knew were going to live beneath us, so we were able to recreate that communal dorm aspect except with some friends that we made first year.”

Leaving the University bubble and pursuing off-Grounds housing also has its share of benefits, second-year College student Olivia McLean.

“It gives you a sense of independence being farther away than dorms,” McLean said. “We have to pay our own bills and find our own food.”

Cons: The vibrant social scene isn't all that keeps residents up at nights. McLean said that the trains passing through the area are quite loud, and Henagan said that the area is always noisy.

“It’s a loud area,” Henagan said, “[It’s] hard to study and sleep sometimes. There are always people and things going on in the street.”

The popular area can also come with a price tag.

“The Warehouse is one of the most expensive,” Henagan said. “Wertland Square apartments across the street is also really expensive. It’s not a great place to save on rent.”

— compiled by Kevin Hare


Location: The Rugby Road corridor is the heart of much of the University's Greek life, which also spills out to the neighboring roads: Gordon Avenue and Grady Avenue. Many of the residences are houses, which give the area a neighborhood-like feel.

Walking distance to Central Grounds: Walking distances varies, but typically ranges between 10-15 minutes.

Pros: The main draw of this area is its social atmosphere.

“I have friends living two doors down and more across the street,” said third-year Commerce student Shivin Agarwal, who lives on Gordon Avenue.

Living in a house, rather than an apartment, also offers a place which can accommodate a larger group of friends. Agarwal lives with four roommates.

Third-year College student Patrick Lambert is a member of Pi Lambda Phi fraternity and also lives in his fraternity house on Rugby Road.

“There’s 15 people living in the house," Lambert said. "You’re going to have something in common with all of them.”

Cons: Agarwal said dealing with the age of his house and others can be a chore.

“I’d say the houses are old, just like Charlottesville in general as opposed to other universities and other campuses I’ve been on,” he said. “If you get a house, there are a lot of things you have to work on and fix by yourself.”

Finding an off-Grounds location in this area also requires some of the earliest commitment from potential tenants — who often begin looking for places as early as September for the next academic year.

“I think something that U.Va needs to work on is fixing off-Grounds housing in terms of the timing schedule,” Agarwal said. “The biggest issue for me is having to figure out your housing in September.”

Living in a Greek house can also present its own challenges. Pi Lambda Phi brothers Lambert and second-year Engineering student George Kohlroser said they have difficulty finding a quiet place to study.

“Other people aren’t working when you want to work,” Lambert said. “Most people end up going to the library."

— compiled by Savannah Simpson and Maggie Vaughn


Location: Lambeth Field Apartments are located at Lambeth Field, just off Rugby Road and a 10-15 minute walk to Central Grounds. Bus routes to Lambeth Field include the Northline, the Green Route and the Central Grounds Shuttle. Layouts: Lambeth Apartments are air-conditioned, have either 1-and-a-half or two bathrooms and include a furnished living room. Apartments contain either two or three double-occupancy bedrooms, each furnished with twin-sized beds, desks, chairs, dressers and wardrobes. The kitchen has a stove, a refrigerator and a sink. The complex includes a convenience store, laundry machines and a vending area.

Cost: Both two or three double-occupancy bedrooms cost $5,930. 

Pros: Because of its relative proximity to Central Grounds and ease of access, Lambeth Field Residences are popular with rising second-year students. The residence requires an application, the requirements of which are not as involved as applications to residential colleges.

“Compared to first-year housing, Lambeth is pretty convenient when it comes to getting to Central Grounds," second-year College student Esther Kareri said. "You’re surrounded by a lot of people from your year, particularly former classmates, which I really enjoyed."

Cons: Unlike other types of University dorm residences, the apartment style is not conducive to a cohesive community in the way that many first-year residence halls are.

“Lambeth is lacking a sense of community compared to first-year dorms,” second-year College student Abenazer Amare Eregetie said.

Eregetie said the distance from science classes and libraries is also a drawback to the complex.

— compiled by Danaite Soquar