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STUDY ABROAD : Student Accommodation - Must read

Homestay vs on campus accommodation

When studying abroad you want a comfortable and safe place to call home. Deciding what option works for you take a bit of research. We compare a homestay with staying on campus.

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One aspect of planning a study abroad journey that causes a lot of discussion is the significant matter of accommodation. You may have an idea of exactly what you want, or perhaps you’re not sure of the options available. Having somewhere to stay that is safe, comfortable and suits your needs is important to make studying abroad a positive experience. We explain two of the more common options available to international students, a homestay or on-campus accommodation.


What is a homestay? 


A homestay accommodation option allows you to stay in the home of a family in your study destination. They are known as a host family. You are provided with a room, meals and communal facilities while finding your feet at the start of your study journey.


A homestay is not a long-term accommodation option. Homestays generally last between one and six months. The idea of a homestay is to help you get settled in your study destination and provide you with a support structure. This can be helpful if you’re feeling homesick and helps you get oriented. Homestay options can be arranged through your university or professional companies that facilitate this option.


What are the costs of a homestay?


The important thing to remember is that not all homestays are the same. Many are offered as packages with different elements depending on your preferences or needs. For example, some homestays will provide you with three meals a day, while others are self-catered.


The cost of your homestay will depend on the level of service and assistance that you receive. Homestays are usually charged at a weekly rate, which is paid for upfront or during your stay. You can expect to pay between GBP 250 and GBP 300 per week for a fully catered homestay with your own room. There can be additional levies if you have special dietary requirements or opt for your own bathroom.


Homestays may also charge an administration and application fee. The fee is usually in the region of GBP 35 to GBP 50. Don’t forget to consider the location of your potential homestay. You need to factor in the cost of transport to and from university.


Read about the kind of student accommodation on offer in New Zealand.


What are the benefits of a homestay?


Choosing a homestay accommodation option has many plus sides. Firstly, there is the personalized attention and help that you will receive. Secondly, there is the family feel that you may be missing when moving abroad. Some of the other benefits of a homestay are:


  • Learning about your new country and its culture
  • Getting to practice your language skills
  • Experiencing life in a local community
  • Eating local cuisine
  • Getting advice and help from those with experience
  • Saving money when compared to other types of accommodation


Find out more about the costs of studying abroad.


What is on-campus accommodation?


On-campus or student residence accommodation is often the first choice for international students. This type of accommodation is located on or very close to university campuses and usually consists of halls of residence. These residences consist of various room types and styles. Residence halls usually accommodate many students studying different courses and degrees across a university.


With on-campus accommodation, you will have shared facilities, including a common entertainment room, laundry, bathrooms and sometimes a kitchen. If you’re in catered accommodation, you will likely eat in what is known as a dining hall or cafeteria.


It is possible to have a single room with your own bathroom, but this will cost you more. You’ll pay less if you share a room with another student. In most rooms, you’ll get the basics you need for your day-to-day life including, a desk, cupboard, bookshelf, and bed. Demand for on-campus accommodation is often very high, so it’s good to enquire early and apply as soon as you can.


Discover more about accommodation options in Ireland.  


Why stay on campus?


Staying on campus has several benefits, from easy access to campus facilities to not travelling. Let’s have a look at some of the other plus points for choosing to stay on campus:



Many universities will recommend staying on campus if you’re a new international student. It’s considered a good option due to the range of options and opportunities it provides. Some research has even suggested that staying on campus enhances the overall student experience.


How much does living on campus cost?


The cost of staying on campus isn’t always cheap. The overall cost will depend on your destination and the type of accommodation you choose. Firstly, there is the matter of your accommodation deposit which can be in the region of GBP 200 to GBP 300. This is to cover administration fees and insurance.


For a self-catered option with a single room with an adjoining bathroom in the UK, you can expect to pay between GBP 5,000 and GBP 7,000 per year. Remember to check with your university if the costs differ if you stay over holiday periods. Your weekly costs should work out to between GBP 150 and GBP 250.


The average weekly costs of on-campus accommodation for other popular destinations:


  • Australia – GBP 60 to GBP 150 per week
  • USA – GBP 6,000 to GBP 10,000 per academic year
  • Canada – GBP 2,500 to GBP 6,000 per academic year


Remember to always check the full cost with your university before applying. Make sure you understand what you are signing for if you take up an accommodation contract for a fixed period.


When you choose your accommodation, think about what you need and what will make you most comfortable. Remember you can speak to a university or an education counsellor for more information. Don’t forget to check out our study abroad checklist to help you prepare even better.