Although there are a number of reasonably priced restaurants around campus, eating out on a regular basis can be very expensive. Cooking for yourself will save you money. Large supermarkets such as Safeway or Trader Joe's usually have the best prices, a broad selection of foods, and have weekly specials. Produce markets such as the Berkeley Bowl and the Monterey Market have good quality and prices. Organic produce from local farms is available at "farmers markets" in Berkeley and neighboring cities. The web site to find the farmers market nearest to where you live is: http://www.cafarmersmarkets.com/.
If you will be making a large purchase, check for stores that sell specific items (such as furniture, electronics, household items, etc.). You can save money by calling different stores first to compare prices-then shop at the store with the best price. You can also ask if the store can deliver larger items to your home and what they charge to do that.
General Household Supplies
There are a number of discount stores which sell a wide range of general household supplies, small furniture, and clothing at lower prices than most specialty shops or retail stores. These include:
- Target or Wal-Mart
- Ross Dress for Less or Bed, Bath and Beyond
- CVS Pharmacy
- Costco requires an annual membership, but has excellent prices
- Walgreens is a full-service pharmacy and usually carries bedding and small household items
Furniture stores near campus:
- Scandinavian Designs
- Solano Avenue and San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley also have stores that sell "foam furniture" and sleeping pads
Buying Used Items
You can save plenty of money by buying used or "second-hand" items. There are "Flea Markets" every Saturday and Sunday at Laney College (take BART to Lake Merritt station), and at the Ashby BART station parking lot. Second-hand stores or "thrift shops" such as Goodwill and Salvation Army carry used household items, clothing, and furniture.
Used items for sale are also listed in newspapers such as the Classified Flea Market , East Bay Express, or Berkeley Voice. Inexpensive household goods, clothing, books, bicycles, and other items (even cars) are often listed in these local papers, and you can usually bargain for lower prices. On weekends people who are moving or want to sell used items (such as those mentioned above) have garage sales or yard sales, which are also advertised in newspapers or on Craigslist, another great resource for a variety of used items. Students who are moving frequently sell beds, desks, tables, TVs, bikes, etc. and often post this on bulletin boards at I- House.
Borrowing Items: The Equipment Loan Center
The University Section Club, Inc. is a nonprofit organization run largely by UC Berkeley faculty wives. These wonderful women volunteer their time to help visiting international students, scholars and their families adjust to the campus community. One of several programs organized by this group is the Equipment Loan Center. For a small fee you may borrow what you need for your stay here and donate the items back when you leave Berkeley. The Center is located on Haste Street (between Telegraph and Bowditch) in Building F and is open every Wednesday during the months of July-September from 1:00pm to 3:00pm, and on the first and third Wednesdays during the months of October-May from 12:30pm to 3:30pm. Please check online for the most up-to-date hours of availability.