Students playing foosball in residence

Jacqueline Written by Jacqueline (she/her), student

Residence will give you more than just a place to sleep, it can increase your academic success by giving you access to all the best resources the campus has to offer – while also introducing you to friends and lots of fun experiences!  

Living in residence is a popular option for first-year students because it’s a convenient and great experience. At Waterloo, first-year students are guaranteed a spot so there’s no extra headache to find somewhere to live. Also it’s a great way to meet new people and integrate into university life.

Fast facts about living in residence

According to research done at several universities, students who live in residence

  • have a higher retention rate from first to second year,
  • have a higher graduation rate,
  • have a higher first-year GPA, and
  • make lifelong friendships.

What is residence like at Waterloo?

Residence is a popular choice for most first-year students. At Waterloo, 80% of all first-year students live on campus.

You have the opportunity to live in either the main Waterloo residences or University College residences. What’s the difference between the two? There are four University Colleges right on Waterloo’s main campus. Don’t get confused with the name college in the title. If you live in one of the University Colleges (Conrad Grebel, Renison, St. Jerome’s, and United College), you are still a Waterloo student. The University Colleges are smaller than the main Waterloo residences and as such, are more community oriented.

The Waterloo residences offer three traditional style residences: Village 1, Ron Eydt Village, and Claudette Millar Hall as well as five suite-style residences: Mackenzie King Village, UW Place, and Columbia Lake Village. Discover the different residences through photos and virtual tour videos.

Group of students hanging out in a residence room

What benefits does residence offer?

1. Flexibility

Waterloo has many residence options, which means you can live in a building that best fits your wants and needs. Want to learn to cook? Live in a suite-style. Want to have a roommate? Live in a residence that has double rooms. Want to live in a smaller community? Live in a University College. You have many options to choose from so take the time to discover which one best fits your needs.

2. Convenience

Living in residence is easy as it is guaranteed for all incoming first-year students if you submit your Residence Community Ranking Form before the deadline. This is much easier than finding off-campus housing, especially if you’re not from the area. You can also choose your roommate. Your fees include all costs: hydro, heat, cleaning fees, and standard furniture. In some residences, the meal plan is separate. If you love residence, you can even live after first year as certain buildings are set aside for upper-year communities.

I went back to residence in my upper years because it was convenient. I really enjoyed my first year in Village 1 and didn't want to worry about finding good housing outside of campus. Being on campus meant that my classes were only a 10-minute walk away. I also really enjoyed having easy access to a cafeteria because I hated cooking.

Kariem, fourth-year Biotechnology/Economics

3. Resources

The first resource is your residence life don, an upper-year student who supports the first-year community by building community, providing support, and ensuring the residence policies are followed.

Two students standing at the residence front desk talking to an employee

Another awesome service in residence is drop-in tutoring, a free resource that gives you access to upper-year students who have taken the courses. If you’re interested in entrepreneurship, then you’re in luck. There are Entrepreneurs in Residence who act as live-in mentors who inspire interested students to find their entrepreneurial niche. Finally, you can live in Living Learning Communities which allows you to live with a group of students from the same program or faculty as you.

4. Lifelong friendships

One of the best parts about living in residence is the community you get to live in. You will get to make new friends and participate in fun residence events. I met my best friends because we all lived on the same floor at St. Jerome’s! Since I moved away from home, my friends have become my family-away-from-home and make the city of Waterloo feel like home as well.

If I was ever feeling stressed, or if I just wanted to talk to someone, all I really had to do was step outside my room, and I'd get to meet up with wonderful people.

Gurubeeni, Computer Engineering student, Claudette Millar Hall (CMH) resident

5. Opportunities

There are also many opportunities for students to get involved in residence. Each building/floor in residence has a representative on the University’s Residence Council. This team works to create a greater sense of community by facilitating social and educational events. There are also opportunities to be a residence ambassador and provide tours of residence to prospective students and their families.

Floor dons and peer leaders constantly arrange events like movie nights to get to know your floormates better.

Komal, Sustainability and Financial Management student, Ron Eydt Village (REV) resident

6. Independence

Living in residence allows you to take that first step to independence, but you don’t have to do it alone. You get to learn how to choose classes, pay bills, budget your money (whether buying groceries or using your meal plan), and grocery shop/cook (if you live in suite-style). The nice thing is you have other floormates who are also learning how to adult.

Two students doing laundry in residence together

Living in residence has many benefits, and I’m glad I chose to live in residence for my first year at Waterloo. Are you trying to figure out which residence is right for you? Sign up to take a tour. You can also get more information about applying to residence by checking out the residence website.


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