The basics
Study abroad : Student Accommodation

Choosing student accommodation abroad: The basics

Starting to think about student accommodation? Start with our introductory guide for international students...

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Knowing where you’re going to live while you’re studying abroad is very important because it can impact how much you enjoy your experience studying in another country. If you’re living somewhere you don’t like or somewhere don’t feel safe, it can make you feel down about your overall experience. However if you’re living with people you get on well with and you feel comfortable, you can focus on your studies and make lifelong friends in the process.

So below are a few key points to think about when choosing your accommodation:

 

1. How important is accommodation?

Yes accommodation is important, though it’s not one of the major things you should agonise over when choosing where to study abroad. All universities will have a range of accommodation options to choose from depending on a student’s preferences and budget. It can factor in to which university you study at when deciding between two or more but it shouldn't be at the forefront of your mind. Accommodation is likely to be something your parents and family will be concerned with in regards to your safety and comfort.

However your biggest decisions should always be a) what to study, and b) where to study – remember this. Even obtaining the correct visa status and documentation is more important that your accommodation. When deciding where to study, feel free to ask about accommodation options but make sure you’ve paid more attention to the course and university.

 

2. What are my options?

Simple, you can live either on campus or off. On-campus accommodation is usually made up of various buildings with single or shared rooms similar to an apartment building. Shared rooms (or “dorms”) are more common in America. These rooms will usually contain a bed, desk and storage space (sometimes there will be a small sink). A floor will usually share a kitchen, bathroom and social area facilities though it depends on the layout of the accommodation. Roughly four to twelve students will share these spaces in what will resemble an apartment or flat. Sometimes accommodation will take the form of a house with a similar structure.

Meanwhile off-campus accommodation can take many forms. This might be a university-run residence hall with similar apartment blocks with shared facilities or one which is run by a third party organisation especially for international students. International students can also rent a house or flat from a third party agent or landlord, sharing with up to six other people; the university will be able to recommend reputable agents and landlords who’ve housed students before, and there may even be a housing fair on campus at some point in the year. If international students would prefer a slightly different experience living in another country, they can also choose a homestay option where they live with a host family in their own home, paying rent for a room; this can be a brilliant option if you want to improve your language skills or see what family life is really like in that country.

‘Your homestay questions...answered’

 

3. Will I definitely get on-campus accommodation?

In most cases, universities set aside enough spaces in on-campus accommodation for first year international students. This is to make the accommodation process easier, sparing them from having to find reputable third party landlords and letting agents. Plus international students might not be able to come to the country before their course begins to view accommodation. It also means that international students feel comfortable as they will be on campus close to university staff and other students, rather than in a new, strange city.

However in Australia, the culture is less campus-based than in the UK and the US so more first year students live off campus. Therefore there may be some cases here where there aren’t any housing places for international students on campus. If this does happen, don’t worry; the university’s international office and accommodation office will assist you.

 

4. How can I arrange accommodation from my home country?

Firstly don’t worry too much about arranging accommodation from another country. It might sound difficult but every international student has done it before you and your university goes through this every year. Thanks to the internet and social media, you can browse all the possible options (including photos and virtual tours). If you have any questions, you can ask them in social media groups which are managed by the university themselves; here both students and university staff can respond to you. Plus you can always phone and email your university too.

 

 

 

 

5. What factors should I be thinking about?

We’ve already covered what factors to consider in some of the articles below; take a look!

However in general, think about how you live and keep in mind that this can be different to how others live (especially if you’re an international student). Do you stay up late? Are you planning to party and socialise a lot, or focus intently on your studies? What types of people do you get on with? You should also think about whether you want to be in charge of preparing your own meals or have a meal plan where you eat in a university canteen.

‘15 must-ask questions when looking for off-campus accommodation’

‘Catered vs. self-catered accommodation: 7 things to consider’

‘International student accommodation questions....answered’

 

 

We have a full, easy-to-understand guide to student accommodation in each country on our site, so take a look! These include real examples from universities in that country, complete with fees and tips. Browse them now or search for the country guide you’re looking for by using our article search.

 

Examples:

'Student accommodation in the UK'

'Student accommodation in the USA'

'Student accommodation in Australia'

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About Author

Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.