Choosing your Waterloo residence

Student on a laptop
Desana Written by Desana (she/her), student

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.

With help from Nicole, an advisor in Waterloo's housing department, here are answers to some of the important and common questions you might have.

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. You can book a tour of our Village 1 residence all year long, too.

Learn more about residence life through our Instagram and YouTube.

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.

I always wanted to live in V1 as it had a mandatory meal plan so I never had to stress about cooking my meals.

Pival, Mathematics student, Village 1 (V1) resident

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.

I love MKV. I love the idea of having my own kitchen, my own living room, my own room, and I get to do whatever I want.

Mareum, Accounting and Financial Management student, Mackenzie King Village (MKV) resident

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.

St. Jerome’s really helped me embrace the community feel and not having to worry about a meal plan really took some stress off my shoulders.

Laettner, Arts and Business student, St. Jerome's University (SJU) resident

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.

Studnet filling a bowl with food

Rank your preferred residences

Once you know which residence community you’d most prefer, you’ll complete the Residence Guarantee Application 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.)

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 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!

Two roommates looking at a phone together

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!


Related articles