Choosing your Waterloo residence

What you need to know about the residence ranking process

Finding the "perfect residence" can be a crucial step in experiencing a smooth transition to university, but figuring out which residence is perfect for you can be as hard as choosing a program.

Worry not! With help from Nicole, an advisor in Waterloo's housing department, here are answers to some of the important and common questions that you might have.

Student at desk.

What should I look for when researching residences?

It’s important to be able to look past four walls and a bed to see the experience you want to have in first year. Do you want lots of quiet study spaces and a room to call your own? Or are you looking to maximize shared spaces and social opportunities? Regardless of the style of room, you’ll want to look into academic and personal support, volunteer and job opportunities, Living-Learning Communities, and more. At Waterloo, each residence offers a different environment and set of opportunities, so it's all about finding the best fit for you.

It’s important to be able to look past four walls and a bed to see the experience you want to have in first year.

You can hop on tours of all the residences during our open houses in March and November. If you can’t make it to campus, we offer virtual residence tours for you to check out the options from afar.

Learn more about residence life through our social media (Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook) and the Waterloo Residences Storyteller blogs.

Traditional vs suite-style residences

Living in residence means becoming part of a community with tons of support to help make your transition to university life as smooth as possible. The first step to choosing a residence is deciding whether you want to live in a traditional (dorm-style) residence or a suite (apartment-style) residence.

Traditional residences offer single, double, and interconnecting rooms and a dining hall in the residence building. Living in a suite-style residence is like living in an apartment, just with all the supports and resources Waterloo residences have to offer. You’ll have a few roommates (with your own bedroom) and the option to prepare all your meals. Meal plans are mandatory for traditional residences (you can choose the size you want), and optional for suite-style residences.

Every residence has the services you’ll need, like laundry right in the building. They also have fun activities, located in shared common spaces where you’ll get to meet other first-year Waterloo students.

University Colleges at Waterloo

Along with our Waterloo Residences, you can live in one of the four on-campus University Colleges, which are like mini-universities within the larger Waterloo community. They offer smaller, more community-oriented residence options and often have initiatives and spots for upper-year students.

Meal plans are included in the residence fees and are provided by the residence’s on-site cafeteria. They’re all-you-can-eat, meaning you won’t run out of money on your food plan (and they’re super delicious). One important thing to note: three of the University Colleges are included in the first-year residence guarantee (put them first on your ranking form!) while Conrad Grebel has an interview portion to make sure you’re a good fit for their community. Each of the residences has some super special opportunities, so book a tour to learn more about everything they have to offer.

Plate of food from cafeteria.

Rank your preferred residences

Once you know which residence community you’d most prefer, you’ll complete the Residence Community Ranking Form, which asks you to pick between Waterloo Residences and the University College residences.

If you submit your Residence Community Ranking Form along with a $500 non-refundable deposit by the June deadline, you're guaranteed a spot in residence for your first year. (The $500 fee is deducted from residence fees, which you pay along with your tuition.)

More stories about being a Waterloo student
Residences that help you turn your ideas into a plan
10 reasons to join a University College
Choosing an on-campus residence

How residence and rooming decisions are made

How am I matched with a residence?

In mid-June, we'll email you letting you know whether you’ve been placed in Waterloo Residences or one of the University Colleges. If you’re in Waterloo Residences, we’ll send you a Waterloo Residences Preference Form for us to get to know you a little better. If you’re placed in one of the University College residences, they'll contact you with your next steps.  

Regardless of which residence you’re assigned, get ready to have a great time!

The Waterloo Residences Preference Form will allow you to indicate which residence and room type you prefer and even make a roommate request. Once Waterloo Residences has your completed form, they look at more than 20 factors to determine where to place you, such as whether you want to live in a Living-Learning Community, your personality and preferences, any special accommodation needs, when your first co-op term takes place, and more. 

While we can’t guarantee one of your top choices, we do work really hard to place as many students as possible in their preferred residence. But regardless of which residence you’re assigned, get ready to have a great time!

Group of students in residence room.

How will I be matched with a roommate?

Both Waterloo Residences and the University Colleges provide the opportunity to request a roommate. Keep in mind that both students need to include their desired roommate’s student ID number, so we know you both want to live together. Then the residence office will look at your preferences, so if you have the same preferences as your roommate, it will make it easier for them to place you in residence!

Whether you apply to residence on your own or with a roommate, you have an equal chance of being assigned to any of your top choices! Don’t feel like you need to scramble to get a group of roommates to increase your chances of securing a particular room style.

Remember, the deadline to submit the form and pay your deposit is early June – you’ll get an email outlining the process once you’ve been accepted!