Getting Settled

OHSU is a commuter campus with no on-campus housing. However, the following online resources will help to assist you in finding housing.

Housing search tools

  • OHSU Housing Postings a public link to OHSU affiliated housing offers
  • OHSU Chuckslist an internal website for current OHSU affiliates
  • Craigslist is a common forum to post classifieds in the U.S., separated by city and state. Under the "housing" section, you can find apartments and roommates
  • Trulia housing search
  • Zillow housing search
  • Cort offers destination and home finding services in Portland, Oregon
  • Apartment List - housing search  

Other tools


Apartments - Apartments are found in complexes, which vary in size. They range from a few apartments to 75-plus apartments in multiple buildings.

  • A studio is an apartment where the living, cooking and sleeping space are combined, generally in one large room.
  • One- and two-bedroom apartments generally have separate areas for the living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom(s).

Condo/Townhouse/Row houses - These are usually similar to plex-style housing (see plex below), but can also be found in apartment complex buildings. Their layout often includes an upstairs and downstairs in one apartment.

Deposit - A sum of money, usually in the form of a check, given to the landlord to be held until the end of the lease. It is necessary to ask if the deposit is refundable before signing the lease. If it is, at the end of the lease, the money is returned provided the tenant has not damaged the apartment. The landlord has the right to keep all or part of the deposit if the apartment is not in the same condition as when it was rented. Be sure to walk through the apartment with the landlord and take notes on the condition of the apartment before signing the lease.

Landlord - A person or company who owns and rents buildings or multiple-dwelling units.

Lease - A contract granting occupancy in a property during a specified period in exchange for a specified amount of rent. Leases can vary in length from month-to-month or longer. Be sure to read your lease carefully before you sign it.

Mother-in-Law Apartment- Refers to an apartment inside a private home, which usually has a separate entrance.

Plexes - These are buildings containing two to four apartments: a duplex contains two apartments, a triplex contains three, and a fourplex contains four.

Realtor - An individual or agency that will assist you in purchasing a house. Their fee is added on to the cost of the house, so there is no upfront fee for the service.

Rooms for Rent - Generally, this category refers to individuals who rent a room in their home.

Tenant - A person who pays rent to reside in a property owned by someone else.


Some common abbreviations you will find in classified ads: (You may see them in combination, for example: spac 2/1 means spacious two-bedroom, 1 bathroom.)

  • 3/2 or 2/1 (e.g.), number of bedrooms/number of bathrooms
  • a/c, air conditioning
  • avl, available
  • ba or bth or bthrm, bathroom
  • balc, balcony
  • bd or bdrm, bedroom
  • bldg, building
  • bsmt, basement
  • cbl, cable
  • cpt, carpet
  • d/d, dishwasher/disposal d/w or dw, dishwasher
  • elev, elevator
  • fpl or frpl, fireplace
  • furn, furnished
  • ga or gar, garage
  • h/w or hdwd flr, hardwood floors
  • incl, included
  • kit, kitchen
  • lndry, laundry
  • lr or lvrm, living room
  • lrg or lg, large
  • mo, month
  • negot, negotiable
  • ns, non smoking or non smoker
  • osp, off street parking
  • pl, swimming pool
  • prkg, parking
  • pvt, private rm, room
  • sec, security or secure
  • sec dep, security deposit
  • sep entr, separate entrance
  • sm, small spac, spacious
  • sq ft or sf, square feet
  • unfurn, unfurnished
  • util, utilities
  • w/d or wd, washer/dryer
  • w/w or w/w cpt, wall-to-wall carpeting
  • wd hkup, washer/dryer hookup
  • yd or yrd, yard

OHSU campuses

The greater Portland area is divided into five main sections known as the "5 quadrants," divided east and west by the Willamette River and north and south by Burnside Street. Each quadrant is unique and has its own personality. Within these quadrants, commuting to OHSU is both easy and relatively fast.

The Marquam Hill Campus is located in southwest Portland, overlooking downtown and the Willamette River. Nearby neighborhoods include Homestead, Hillsdale, Burlingame and downtown Portland. The portion of the Homestead neighborhood located within walking distance of the campus is generally referred to as "on the hill." This area does not have many grocery stores or restaurants in walking distance and transportation can be challenging after working hours and on weekends. Living "off hill" offers a better lifestyle and the commute to campus is easy. The neighborhood possibilities are endless within the city.

Whether commuting by car or bus (either directly to the campus or to a TriMet park-and-ride), getting up the hill can take some time. If you want to live within walking distance of the Marquam Hill Campus, keep in mind that some apartments may charge extra for parking or garage space, and on-street parking in most areas requires a city parking permit with a fee.

The West Campus is located in the middle of a very large residential area. There are numerous apartment complexes, bus lines and shopping centers. Many of the higher-end apartments are located within walking or biking distance to the campus. The West Campus is in the northwest part of the metro area bordering the cities of Hillsboro and Beaverton.

The Northwest Neighborhood

Also known as the alphabet district is described as feeling European, and you may pay a bit extra for the distinction. With a variety of restaurants, bars, and shopping, this area is great for getting adjusted to Portland. To the east, the Pearl District in northwest boasts many lofts, high-rise buildings and galleries, and has a modern feel. Old Town, Hillside and Forest Park are all close by and very accessible to downtown.

The Southwest Neighborhood

Close-in: Southwest, downtown, Portland State University and the Goose Hollow neighborhood are near the Marquam Hill Campus and have an uptown feel. OHSU has a shuttle bus that runs downtown through the PSU campus to Crown Plaza and back up to Marquam Hill.

The southwest quadrant also has many neighborhoods near the Marquam Hill Campus. Some of these neighborhoods have a distinctly suburban feel, more so than the urban southeast, northeast and northwest. Neighborhoods in this area include Hillsdale, Burlingame, Garden Home, Multnomah Village and Raleigh Hills/West Slope. These neighborhoods are on the border of Multnomah and Washington counties.

Suburbs: East Washington County includes the cities of Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin, Lake Oswego, West Linn and Sherwood. West Washington County includes the cities of Aloha, Cornelius, Hillsboro and Forest Grove.

The Southeast Neighborhood

Close-in: On the southeast side of town, the Hawthorne/Sunnyside, Belmont, Division and Mt. Tabor neighborhoods provide easy access to downtown via bike or bus, and offer a diverse, funky atmosphere. Some other close-in neighborhoods are Buckman, Brooklyn, Hosford-Abernethy and Sellwood. All of these neighborhoods offer easy access to downtown via one of the main bridges linking the east side of the Willamette River with the west side.

Suburbs: Clackamas County, in the southern part of southeast, includes the cities of Clackamas, Milwaukie, Oregon City, Gladstone, Estacada and Sandy. Commuting from these areas is best done by car.

The North-Northeast Neighborhood

Close-in: In northeast, the Lloyd District, Irvington, Alberta, and Laurelhurst neighborhoods offer an urban environment that is family-oriented. The Hollywood neighborhood has a Marquam Hill express bus that travels weekdays between the MAX line at the Hollywood Transit Center and the Marquam Hill Campus. In north Portland, the N Williams and N Mississippi neighborhoods provide a small town feel and easy access to NW and downtown. Farther out, but still providing easy access to the downtown is the St. John's Neighborhood.

Suburbs: Located in the eastern part of Multnomah County are the cities of Gresham and Troutdale. The light rail, MAX, runs east to west from Gresham through downtown and west to Hillsboro, as well as to the Portland airport. WES, a commuter rail line, connects Wilsonville, Tualatin, Tigard and Beaverton.

Before committing to any utility, be sure to see if OHSU has an employee discount arrangement.

Cell phones

There are several companies that offer cell phone service in the Portland area. Popular choices are:

If you are looking for a SIM Card for your existing cell phone, you can find them at the cell phone providers above, or locally at:


The standard for electrical power in the U.S. is 110 volts and 60 cycles (or Hertz). This differs from most other countries, including those in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, which use 220 volts and 50 Hertz. To make your non-U.S. appliance usable, you can purchase an adaptor at most electronics stores.

Two electric companies provide service to the Portland Metropolitan area. If you are uncertain about how to establish service, you can call your landlord to determine which provides service to your home address.

Natural gas

Some furnaces (heaters), stoves and water heaters use natural gas instead of electricity. The only gas company in the Portland area is Northwest Natural Gas.

Landline telephone

Local telephone service is provided by one of several telephone companies, depending on your area of residence. You can contact your landlord for a listing of companies that serve your area. To obtain a telephone directory, you can contact:

Water and sewer

Portland is divided into a number of water districts. If you are uncertain as to where to establish your water and sewer services account, contact your landlord. Your water utility company can tell you what additives are in the water supply (for example, fluoride).

Garbage and recycling

Garbage and recycling is collected once a week on the same day and lawn and garden debris is collected once or twice a month. Most apartment complexes will have garbage bins for their tenants' use. If you do need to set up service, you can contact your landlord or city hall to find out which company services your area.

Television and internet

You can find a listing of cable and satellite television companies in the local phone directory. Your landlord should also be able to tell you what cable companies serve your area. We suggest comparing prices to get the best deal. Some popular choice are:

More resources

In My Area is a free resource helping students, workers, and extended stay visitors find providers and compare utilities services (Internet, cable, home services) available in your area. Find out which internet providers are available in your area, along with the plans, speeds, and features they offer. 

Public transportation

Tri-Met is the Portland transit system and the least expensive way to travel around the city. Also, the C-Tran is available for service to Vancouver, Washington. You can find trip planning and route finding information on the Tri-Met website.  More information about transit can be found at OHSU's transit site.

OHSU has entered into a partnership with Tri-Met to provide annual transit passes, known as TriMet Universal passes, at a significantly reduced cost for all visitors, students, and employees. The pass is a small sticker which is affixed to your OHSU identification card. Just show your pass to the Tri-Met or C-Tran driver as you board the bus or carry it with you when you ride MAX. Get more information about the discount program. Disabled riders also may use the pass for door-to-door lift services. Get more information about accessibility features.

As another incentive to encourage you to leave your car at home, Tri-Met sponsors an emergency ride home program at OHSU. If an unexpected medical or family emergency requires your presence on a day that you have gotten to OHSU any way other than driving, Tri-Met will pay for cab service or a rental car to get you home. For this service, you can contact the Parking Office at 503-494-8283 on the Marquam Hill Campus, or Linda Billings at 503-690-5235 on the West Campus.

Portland also has a streetcar, which has a central loop within the close-in neighborhoods. Part of this loop is connected to OHSU. Commuters take the streetcar and then use the Sky Tram to get on the hill. The streetcar is free for all OHSU badge holders.

Driving in the U.S.

You must have a current and valid international driver's license to legally drive a vehicle when you arrive to the U.S.

To obtain an Oregon Driver's License, you must pass written and behind–the-wheel driving tests given by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). For more information on driving a vehicle in Oregon, please visit the DMV website.  Also, you can download the DMV Driver's Manual.

Car ownership

If you own a car in the State of Oregon, you must register it with DMV. You must also pass a Department of Environmental Quality Emissions Test every two years if your car is more than three years old.

Car insurance

Car insurance is required in Oregon. There are many insurance companies from which you can purchase insurance. They can be found online by searching "insurance" or ask peers for recommendations. 

Top 10 Insurance Companies

Other car options

Zipcar is a membership organization for individuals who only need to have access to a vehicle occasionally. You can rent cars, vans and trucks on a shared basis without the expense and problems of car ownership. Reserve a zipcar and use it for a specific amount of time, then return it to designated parking areas. Before you get a membership, check out OHSU's discount.

Car2Go is a membership organization that also provides access to cars within Portland. These cars are for short trips around the city. The benefit of a car2go is that they are parked all over the city by each driver; you can reserve it via their website or app, drive it for however long you need it and then leave it anywhere you would like to within the Car2Go boundary.

For employees, postdocs and visitors

Meeting new people is essential for anyone when moving to a new country or city. This can be challenging at OHSU and in the Portland area. Get more information about social groups and networking opportunities.

International Employee Resource Group (IERG)


The IERG seeks to offer welcoming support and social network to international employees, students, visitors, and volunteers throughout OHSU.

Contact the IERG

Full list of employee resource groups

For OHSU students

Be sure to check in with the Student Center to find out more about social groups and student activities.

Community social networking resources

InterNations in Portland

InterNations is often the first international community for all people living and working abroad. Founded in 2007 by three young entrepreneurs from Germany (former expatriates themselves), it has become the biggest expatriate network worldwide.

The InterNations website now unites more than one million expats and global minds in all countries around the world. As a network based on trust, members find other expatriates in a similar situations, with comparable interests and needs.

InterNations helps expats to feel at home abroad, meet people and find information about their new environment: "Make life easier for expats!"

Learn more about InterNations.

Many companies and organizations offer discounted services and products to OHSU employees. On O2, are discount offers that are currently available to anyone with a valid OHSU ID badge.

In some instances vendors may also make these discounts available to employees' immediate family members.

Sign into O2 for more information about employee discounts.

People Places Things

The Office of International Affairs has established a great relationship with People.Places.Things. Both departments and individuals now have a service for English language assistance. Departments can organize small group training with a established contract, for easy payments. And, individuals can reach out for customized services at reasonable prices.

Targeted language skills development for small groups

Our professional and academic contexts are highly specialized, and every group has it's own language, processes and rhythm. Really, every department, office, or lab has a culture in itself. Our experienced language skills development facilitators can provide short, targeted series of 4 to 8 sessions to develop very specific skills: laboratory protocols, patient interaction, safety procedures, interdepartmental communication, and any other language or culture challenge your team is experiencing. Ideal for groups of 2 to 8 who are working in the same area.

OHSU Departments, get more information about how to get started with People.Places.Things.

Our professional and academic contexts are highly specialized, and every group has it's own language, processes and rhythm. Really, every department, office, or lab has a culture in itself. Our experienced language skills development facilitators can provide short, targeted series of 4 to 8 sessions to develop very specific skills: laboratory protocols, patient interaction, safety procedures, interdepartmental communication, and any other language or culture challenge your team is experiencing. Ideal for groups of 2 to 8 who are working in the same area.

OHSU Departments, get more information about how to get started with People.Places.Things.

Customized 1:1 language and cultural skills coaching

Whether it's a major presentation, an article you are preparing for publishing, or support for improving your relationships with your coworkers, our highly skilled language & culture coaches will consult with you and determine your needs and resources and craft a solution that works.

Get more information on 1:1 individual coaching pricing and service information

To schedule a free 30 minute assessment, contact Patrik McDade directly by email or phone at 503-522-1589.

Writing support resources

For more resources recommended by our School of Nursing (but relevant to everyone) can be found here.

F-1 Students and J-1 Exchange Visitors

Often, students and exchange visitors feel that they need to get a Social Security Number (SSN) as soon as they get to the United States. In fact, only students and exchange visitors earning a wage should obtain Social Security Numbers. If you are receiving a stipend or other kind of wage, you can get forms to apply for a Social Security number at the Social Security office in Beaverton/Portland or on the Social Security Administration's website. Students and exchange visitors also need to have their records validated in SEVIS by the Department of Immigration Services before applying for a SSN and F-1 students will also need written authorization from the Department of Immigration Services confirming eligibility to work on campus and a letter from their on-campus employer verifying employment.

If you are getting a tuition scholarship, but not actually receiving a wage, you need to apply for a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) instead of a SSN. Do not apply for the Employee Identification Number (EIN) by mistake. If you have U.S. investments that will receive interest payments, you should also apply for a TIN. You can call the I.R.S. toll-free at 1 800 829-3676 to request form W-7 (Application for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) or you can visit the I.R.S. website to download and print a form.


If you are in H-1B status you will need to obtain a SSN since you will be receiving a salary from OHSU. In order to obtain a SSN you will need to complete the SSN application. You will also need to take your passport and I-94 card with you to the Social Security Administration office when you apply for your number.

General information

You need to be careful with your SSN and card to protect yourself from identity theft. For more information on how to protect your SSN and what to do if your card is lost or stolen please read the Social Security Administration's publication "Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number".

Tax Resources

Common Tax Forms

PLEASE NOTE: In addition to the tax return, all individuals in F, J, M, and Q immigration status who are exempt individuals (including spouse and children) are required to file a Form 8843 Statement for Exempt Individuals.  Filing this form does not mean the person is exempt from taxes, but rather that he or she is exempt from counting days of presence in the United States to determine if he or she is to be taxed as a resident or a nonresident.  This form asks for certain information about immigration status.  Therefore, if a nonresident alien has no income in the United States but is still within the exempt individual period, he or she must file the Form 8843.

The OHSU Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Benefited employees can access 30-minutes of free legal tax advice by calling 1-800-826-9231. In addition they are eligible for 25% discount for tax preparation with Consolidated Legal Concepts. The EAP is available 24 hours, 7 days a week. Check out this EAP tax information page  for more information.

Tax Preparation Services

Sprintax is a US tax return preparation tool designed primarily to prepare non-resident Federal and State tax returns.  Sprintax is available for use by foreign students, scholars, teachers, researchers, trainees and all other international education visitors with visa type F, H, J, L M, and Q immigration status.  Sprintax is also available for use by dependents of those on stated visa and program types.

Gary R. Engler & Company, Certified Public Accountants & Advisors is an income tax resources and tax preparation services for international students and employees.  They also have a lot of free information on their website.

Friends of Overseas Citizens and University Students (FOCUS) is a local non-profit organization that works with international students and scholars at Portland State University.

Disclaimer: This list is provided as an information service only. It is not an exhaustive list of services or companies and is not an endorsement by OHSU of any company listed.

For employees and postdoctoral fellows

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

The EAP provides you and eligible members of your household 24/7 access to confidential counseling to help you address issues such as relationships, drug and alcohol abuse, financial hardship and general stress or depression. The most commonly used benefit of the EAP is three free visits (no copay or other out of pocket cost to you) with a counselor for you and/or your dependents. Many issues can be addressed directly with your EAP professional; in some cases, you may be referred to other resources that are in your network coverage. Learn more about EAP

  • Relationship or marriage issues
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Financial problems
  • Stress management
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Finding community resources
  • Conflict at work
  • Stress from identity theft

For OHSU postdoctoral fellows and students

The Joseph B. Trainer Health & Wellness Center provides counseling services that can help preserve and enhance your emotional and behavioral health. Learn more about the Center

  • Individual or couples therapy
  • Support groups
  • Psychiatric evaluation and/or referral
  • Medication management
  • Assessment, treatment and referral as appropriate for alcohol and other substance abuse related problems

Mental health awareness for international students

Mental Health Awareness for International Students

This short video introduces the concepts of mental health for international students in the US.  Covering mental health awareness and warning signs, dispelling myths, and showing ways to seek treatment.  The video seeks to demystify a complex topic.

Free or low cost Mental Health Services in the Portland-metro area

Disclaimer: This list is provided as an information service only. It is not an exhaustive list of services or companies and is not an endorsement by OHSU of any company listed.