Your Go-To Guide for UCI's Housing Options

Your Go-To Guide for UCI's Housing Options


Housing at UCI is plentiful, but the options can be intimidating. In this post, I will be going over the pros and cons of each popular housing option!

Freshman Housing (Mesa Court and Middle Earth):

No, freshmen are not required to live on-campus, but 81% of freshmen choose to do so. Living in the residential halls was one of the best experiences I’ve had - so great, that I decided to return to the community as an RA my third and fourth years! There are two freshmen housing communities, and the question I hear most as a tour guide and RA  is “between me and you, which one is better?” To this, I counter - it depends what you’re looking for. Both communities are equally great places to live!

Mesa Court (MC)

  1. Feel: More village-feeling - lots of trees, greenery, grass

  2. Occupancy: Options of single, double, triple, quad (Mesa Court Towers)

  3. Classic Halls + “The Towers”

  4. Names: Spanish outdoors themed. The history of MC is that they named the original halls after what you could see out your window: “Playa,” (Beach) “Camino,”(Path) and “Ciudad”(City) are some examples.

  5. Food: Anteatery (All-you-can-eat dining commons accessed by your ID card - freshmen living in the dorms must purchase a meal plan. The meal plan options are 100 swipes/quarter, 5 day all-access (good if you go home every weekend/you want to cook), and 7 day all-access (my absolute favorite). Choose wisely).

  6. Recreation: Has a fitness center, recreation center (that includes various board games, video games, ping/pong tables), basketball courts, beach volleyball court

  7. Parking: Lot 5 and Lot 14, which are respectively located across from the bike shop and Student Center, and right next to the Newkirk Alumni center/Arts parking structure

  8. Halls include: in-house washers and dryers, full shared kitchen (bring your own pots/pans/utensils/Keurig, but has a fridge, freezer, sink, full oven/stove), study rooms, ping-pong/foosball/pool tables, TV

  9. Themed halls: each hall is themed to allow each student to live to their fullest potential. Are you a dance major (or someone who likes to dance)? There’s performing arts halls for that, that are equipped with pianos and full mirrors in the living spaces. There are biological science halls for biology majors who want to study together,, half-international student halls (MC-GLOBE) for those interested about creating international friendships, and general interest halls for those who can’t make up their minds. (Disclaimer: you don’t have to be a bio major to be in a bio hall, or arts major to be in a performing arts hall - we will take all your preferences into consideration regardless of major).

  10. Residential Advisor: 1 per hall, or 1 per floor (in Towers)

  11. Location: Across the bridge from the Student Center and School of Humanities, adjacent to the Claire Trevor School of the Arts.


Living in MC for two years, my biggest advice is to make sure that you DO NOT CHOOSE THE TOWERS if you do not think you can live with three other people. Period. Just because it is new, does not mean that it is the best place to live. I have lived in the bigger classic halls in MC that hold 90 people (Lluvia ‘15-’16, General Interest) and smaller classic halls in MC (Viento ‘17-’18, MC-The Globe). Both have been incredible experiences in their own unique way - I loved living in a huge general interest hall, surrounded by so many people, but I also loved the intimacy and history of my smaller classic hall. Each of these classic Mesa halls only have single, double, or triple occupancy - so if you’re thinking about choosing the Mesa Court Towers as your housing preference (yes, we do take preferences for housing, as well as roommate preferences), please make sure that you are making the best decision for you, and not just based on outdoor looks!

Middle Earth (ME)

  1. Feel: more urban-feeling, concrete

  2. Occupancy: single, double, triple

  3. Only classic, low-rise halls. Towers opening for the 2019-2020 school year

  4. Names: Each hall is named after JRR Tolkien’s classic Lord of the Rings. You can live in Harrowdale, Isengard, Whispering Wood

  5. Food: Pippin Commons (NOT “Pippins”)

  6. Parking: Anteater Parking Structure (APS)

  7. Halls include: in-house washers and dryers, full shared kitchen (bring your own pots/pans/utensils/Keurig, but has a fridge, freezer, sink, full oven/stove), study rooms, ping-pong/foosball/pool tables, TV

  8. Residential Advisor AND Community Assistant (additional, paid, live-in support who assist within the community): 1 of each per hall

  9. Location: Sandwiched between the School of Social Sciences and the Henry Samueli School of Engineering; a short walk to grad housing, Anteater Recreation Center

American Campus Communities

The American Campus Communities (ACC) provides on-campus guaranteed housing for those trying to take advantage of hassle-free living! Again, it is not required to live here your second year (or choose to renew your third or fourth year), but many choose to live in the ACC apartments, which are FULLY FURNISHED and encompasses several housing communities. People choose to live in ACC apartments because they all have air conditioning, are fully furnished with installed cable and internet, and if you don’t already have a roommate, they will be able to put you in apartments with other UCI students. ACC apartments are hassle-free!

Vista Del Campo

Pros: On-site parking, only ACC apartments to have basketball courts and a theatre, free 150 prints per month, single rooms with individual lease, fully furnished, transportation via shuttles provided year-round

Cons: Expensive, price increases every year, parking is an additional cost and must be paid for in full

Vista Del Campo Norte

Pros: doubles available (cheaper rent!)

Cons: slightly smaller than VDC apartments, but includes mostly the same amenities

Puerta del Sol

Pros: Parking is free at the ARC (SCORE), closer to campus than the other ACC apartments, across the street from Albertsons, nice kitchen, double occupancy available

Cons: Super tiny rooms, no desk in rooms, electricity not included in rent

Camino del Sol

Pros: Probably the nicest housing community, bougie, single-occupancy rooms

Cons: Most expensive on-campus housing option

Additional Housing

Campus Village

Pros: Super close to humanities, biology, and physical sciences areas of school (shout out to 5 minute walks to MSTB!), 24/7 study spaces, relatively cheaper than any other on-campus living, quiet and peaceful.

Cons: Not the most aesthetically pleasing, definitely older

Arroyo Vista

Pros: Themed and Greek Houses, steps away from the Anteater Recreation Center

Cons: Can be loud, kind of like living in a dorm again

Palo Verde and Verano Place

Grad Housing only

“Off Campus” University Town Center (UTC) Apartments

Pros: Even though it’s “off-campus,” it’s a lot closer than the ACC apartments, next to University Town Center for easy access to shopping, food, and Trader Joe’s, 2 free parking spots, slightly cheaper than ACC apartments ($600-$800 for a double), access to all UTC amenities (pools, jacuzzis, gyms).

Cons: Responsible for furnishing, setting up utilities + water + internet (AKA actually learning how to adult), responsibility to fill any vacancies in the household

Off-Off Campus: Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Irvine

If you have a car or a bike, living off-campus may be a much cheaper option. The perks of living in such a planned city next to the beach means there are plenty of housing options, and many people choose to live on the beach when they can!

Pros: Living off campus allows you to relax and not be completely surrounded by school (mental health!), cheap ($500 - $800 for private rooms)

Cons: Must think about the commute (can’t just walk home), have to pay for a commuter parking pass, deal with morning and 5pm traffic, experiences can depend on good or bad landlords/neighbors, less predictability and more adulting (so make sure you’re ready for that before you’re the worst housemate ever!)

All in all, there are plenty of housing options available in Irvine, and I hope this helps in deciding which housing community fits your lifestyle the best! Freshman housing tours are available in the spring for Mesa Court and Middle Earth - who knows, I might be the one taking you around!

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