The Economista: The Housing Lottery


Welcome to The Economista! – a blog for those looking to successfully enjoy their time at Brown while on a budget. Learn new tips each week from  freshman blogger Elliot Weiss as we embark on a journey of fiscal responsibility,  free meals (yes – there is such a thing as a free lunch!), and plenty of inexpensive fun. Cheers!

Hi again! This week is a very special week for many reasons. Not only is this one of the last few weeks of the academic “regular season” (can’t believe it’s almost summer time!) and the lead up to Spring Weekend (the best weekend of the year – or so I’ve been told), but today marks the official start of the housing lottery! While freshmen are randomly placed in rooms based on a brief, yet informative roommate questionnaire, all older students select housing through the (mostly unreasonably) feared housing lottery. For those who are either in the midst of selecting housing now or won’t enter the lottery until next year (aka still prefrosh), here are some tips to ensure of happy, successful, and (hopefully) stress free lottery:

1. Don’t be too selective with your housing group. Most freshmen get along fairly well with their randomly assigned roommates, so who says you have to be best friends with your future room/suitemates before you live with them? As long as you feel like you’ll get along decently well and have similar enough lifestyles, you should never turn someone down from joining your housing group. Plus bigger groups usually benefit by having a relatively high combined lottery number rather than the much more variable individual numbers.

2. Really do your research before you choose housing. This includes, but is certainly not limited to: browsing through all available floor plans, talking to fellow classmates and upper classmen for advice and room reviews, utilizing all of the resources available on the housing lottery website (, actually visiting all of the rooms that you are seriously considering living in (more on this below), and, finally, making a relatively complete list of rooms in order that your housing group would want to select. This way, you won’t have to make any last minute decisions the night of the lottery (which could be extremely stressful, given that you only have 3 minutes to choose your room).

3. Try to explore your prospective rooms on your own rather than in an official “housing tour.” While housing tours offer an exhaustive look at pretty much every room available for next year, it’s far more effective to just sneak into a building by waiting for a fellow student to swipe you in (or, if you really want to be creative, you can try something like this -> and knocking on the doors of rooms that you want to check out. Most people are more than happy to let you take a look around the room and give you some very practical (not to mention honest) advice for your own room search when you aren’t barging in their room as part of a 50 person housing tour. Plus, you can personally select all of the rooms you want to see to maximize your time. This was one of the most important things that I did to figure out the best housing situation for my friends and I.

4. Talk through all of the pros and cons of your most desired rooms with your housing group in the week leading up to the lottery. This means talking about everything from building location to “hall culture” to room size to laundry machine accessibility and everything in between. It’s only when you really flesh out all of the details that you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and is (for the most part) satisfied with any of the rooms that you could reasonably live in next year.

5. Finally, go into the process with a very positive outlook. This is the first time in most people’s lives that they get to actually choose exactly where they want to live for an entire year. Even though things can seem daunting and can get a bit stressful, everything will work out just fine as long as you and your group handle every twist and turn with ease and know how to have a good laugh along the way. In the housing lottery, like in most aspects of life, the difference between success and failure can be as simple as how you perceive, approach, and react to everything that is thrown at you along the way.

Practical information, life advice, and philosophy – you get it all with The Economista! I sincerely hope everyone’s week goes amazingly well as we all navigate the (somewhat) perilous waters of the housing lottery, the (latent) anxiety of the end of the semester, and the (amazing) fun that is Spring Weekend. Have a good one!

If you have any additional questions, comments, concerns, or mildly amusing jokes to tell, please feel free to email me at! Also, I always appreciate suggestions for future blog posts!



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