With guaranteed residence for first-year and transfer students, you can live in the middle of the action. You'll be close to your classes, labs and tutorials, the Student Life Centre, gyms, places to eat, and more.
Each of Waterloo's first-year residences offer personal and academic support such as Living-Learning Communities and academic clusters, residence life staff, and social activities to help you adjust to living away from home.
Types of residences at Waterloo
We offer two groups of residences: the Campus Housing residences and four on-campus University Colleges.
|Campus Housing residences||University College residences|
|Located on campus?||Yes||Yes|
|Available to any first-year student?||Yes||Yes|
|Single and double rooms?||Yes||Yes|
|Suite/apartment style and traditional dorm style rooms?||Both||Traditional style|
|Where do you eat?||At residence or at outlets around campus||At your residence|
|Meal plans||Required for traditional residences; optional for suite-style||All-you-can-eat style meal plan, included in the cost of residence|
|How many students in each residence?||320 to 1380 students||145 to 360 students|
|Learn more||Campus Housing residences||University Colleges|
Once you apply to Waterloo, you're automatically eligible to live in residence. If you receive an offer of admission, all you need to do to guarantee your spot in residence is
- accept your Offer of Admission by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on June 1, 2021 AND
- submit a Residence Community Ranking Form and a $500 non-refundable deposit by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on June 1, 2021, AND
- meet any conditions outlined on your Offer of Admission.
The guarantee does not apply if you miss the June 1 deadline. Learn more about the residence process for first-year students.
Your grades and when you receive an offer of admission do not influence your placement in residence. All first-year students are considered equally.
If you have a disability and require housing accommodations, you must complete the Housing Disability Verification Form and submit it by the June 1 deadline.
Conrad Grebel University College is another on-campus residence that requires a separate application.
Applying to residence as a transfer student
Let us take care of finding you a place to live! Reserve your guaranteed residence spot by applying to one of our upper-year residences.
Live in an academic, athletic, or Indigenous Living-Learning Community
Through a Living-Learning Community or an Academic Cluster, you can live in the same area of residence with students who share a common academic or other interest. Each Living Learning Community is assigned an upper-year mentor who offers leadership and support. In an Academic Cluster, you will live close to students in your faculty and benefit from peer support. You'll also gain enhanced access to great academic programming that can help with your academic needs in first year!
Themes include various academic programs, varsity athletics, students interested in the connection between technology and peace, and the Waterloo Indigenous student residence.
Common questions about residence
Are residences still open during the pandemic?
Yes! As an essential service, Campus Housing residences and University College residences will be operational this fall. We understand that there are many questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the fall 2021 residence experience. All residences have implemented many safety features and are prepared to keep you safe while you live with us. Learn more about how we adapted the residence experience in fall 2020 to keep students safe and engaged.
Am I required to live in residence?
Research has shown that living in residence for first year increases students' academic success and graduation rates by giving them access to all the best resources the campus has to offer while also introducing them to friends and lots of fun experiences. While you are not required to live in residence, we highly recommend it!
Are the floors co-ed?
It varies from residence to residence. Some floors are co-ed, many are not. Co-ed first-year floors usually have each gender in a separate wing with a separate washroom. Gender-inclusive housing options are also available in residence. Contact a Housing Advisor to learn more.
Are residences split according to faculties or programs?
No. If you live in residence, you'll have the opportunity to meet students from many Waterloo programs. However, in our Living-Learning Communities and Academic Clusters, you can choose to live with students in your faculty/program and benefit from special enrichment opportunities. You'll still be part of a larger residence with students from across campus.
How safe are the residences?
Residence staff across campus take the safety of students living in residence very seriously. All facilities have been designed for safety and security. Buildings, houses, and floors are locked and students must have a key or access card to get in.
Are the University Colleges residences?
The four on-campus University Colleges are smaller, closely-knit communities that combine residence and academic life. You can
- live at a University College without taking courses there,
- take courses there without living there, or
- live in residence and take courses at one or more University Colleges and the main Waterloo campus.
You can even complete your Bachelor of Arts degree through St. Jerome's University or Renison University College.
Do I have to take classes at a University College to live there?
No, you can live at a University College and take all your courses on the main Waterloo campus.
Which type of residence is the best fit for me?
Each residence has many services and experiences to offer. It’s more about which residence is best for you. Some offer more independence while others offer more social interaction, while others offer more privacy.
Each residence offers a strong sense of community, support for academic pursuits, full-time staff, and many amenities to make it feel like home. Campus and residence tours are a great way to learn more. Can’t make it to campus? Check out our residence virtual tours.
Where can I use my meal plan on campus?
Living in one of Campus Housing's residences, you can use your meal plan at the many Food Services outlets on campus. Your meal plan also includes flex dollars, which can be spent at a variety of off-campus locations as well as in vending machines, laundry machines, and photocopiers across campus.
If you live at one of the University Colleges, your meal plan applies to that college and you eat all your meals there.
What's the benefit of having a meal plan if I live in a suite/apartment-style residence?
If you are living in a suite-style residence, meal plans are optional. You may wish to purchase one if you plan on eating some of your meals in the food services outlets on campus. Great for days when you don’t have time to cook or visit the grocery store!
Do I need to have a roommate?
Sharing a room really isn't as bad as you might think. You and your roommate will likely have very different schedules, so you won't always be in the room at the same time. In reality, roommate relationships usually work out well, and even when there are challenges, there’s a whole team of supportive professional staff here to help you. Check out this video with tips to ensure a great roommate experience.
Can I select my own roommate?
You can request to room with a friend as long as you each indicated the same gender when you applied through the Ontario Universities' Application Centre and you're both in school for the fall and winter terms or the fall and spring terms in first year.
How am I matched with my roommate?
The allocation process considers your gender, whether you're in school fall-winter or fall-spring in first year, and the information you provide to the residence where you'll be living, such as your study and sleep habits, personal preferences, etc. Don’t worry, housing staff do their best to ensure that roommate matches are successful by taking your preferences into consideration and providing support after move in.
All you need to know about residence at Waterloo
To thrive at university, you need a home where you can be your best self. A soft spot to land that helps you succeed in every way – physically, mentally and socially. And a fun, welcoming community that feels like family. Visit our Campus Housing website to learn about the residence application process, residences, meal plans, fees, and what students say about living in residence.
Whether it's vegan and vegetarian smoothies and flatbreads at Frsh, the all-day breakfast at ML's Diner, or creating your own pho at South Side Marketplace, our 38 on-campus eateries mean that you'll always have plenty of choice.
And you're never far from a coffee shop like Starbucks, Tim Hortons, or William's. Plus student-run locations are great for good coffee and cheap snacks. Need caffeine late at night? Grab coffee, food, snacks, and more 24/7 in the Student Life Centre!
Special dietary needs?
Vegetarian? Observing Ramadan? Have allergies? We can help! See our common questions about eating on campus.
Eating in residence
Getting a residence meal plan gives you access to an incredible range of food at a variety of locations.