Discover Studying Abroad

The Student's Guide to Finding A Home Away From Home

BrainGain magazine brings you some of the commonest accommodation options as you pursue an international degree.
BY Resham Mukherjee |   07-08-2015

Students planning to study abroad are always on the lookout for cheaper accommodation. Accommodation abroad can be long term or short term.

Short Term:

One of the best options is to connect to hospitality networks through which locals offer to play hosts. This option helps in students interact with a strange culture closely. This is, however, a short term arrangement.

Housesitting is another way to get free accommodation around the world. You can stay in the comfort of a home while taking care of it. Homeowners are grateful because there is someone to check the mail, water the plants, look after any pets, saving exorbitant kennel fees. There are a number of websites connecting homeowners with house sitters.  Housesitting can last from a few days to months, and in some cases, years.

There are a few websites which facilitate free accommodation:

  • Couchsurfing
  • Global Freeloaders
  • Hospitality Club
  • Stay4Free

Long Term:

Normally for international students there are three basic options while choosing an accommodation.

Homestay: Staying with a host family. It means home cooked food, lots of study time, and interaction in the local dialect. A homestay is usually arranged by the university. The university vets the place of stay. Homestay may sound perfect for the many advantages, but the fact that it could keep the student away from the peer group is a disadvantage. In Australia, for example, many accommodation providers offer services for arranging accommodation for students. The average cost of homestays in Australia per month is up to USD 900, in the UK between USD 700 and 800 and in the US it is up to 1200 USD.

Apartment Living / Private Accommodation: In private accommodations, the students must do one’s own laundry, cooking, and most of all, pay all utility bills. Sometimes these are included in the house rent. Contacts of such accommodations can be collected from the university, but one should have a prior look at the place before moving in. Apartment living is similar to community living, and gives a considerable exposure to language, people and their culture. In the US, the monthly rent can go up to USD 1, 600, in the UK from USD 603 to 1,230 and in Australia it is from USD 1,690 to 1,904. The costs depends upon the number of rooms rented and how many share them.

Student Dorms/Student Accommodation: Another option availed by native students when usually they are in the first year. Though a bit messy as a large group of University beginners are expected to crowd the place, a lot of learning and community living values could be picked up from here. Students may have some independence, but laundry, cooking and cleaning are mostly self-service. The University concerned may provide canteen access, which can be a plus but largely depends on the institution’s policy and infrastructure. Bills also tend to be inclusive. According to European estimates, a dormitory accommodation costs around 120 Euros, while more than more up to 350 Euros.

Students are advised to gather all details before leaving the country so that housing is not a problem after arrival. Aside from this, hostels and guest houses are available for temporary accommodation. They can be opted for, temporarily, before one looks for a more convenient and suitable accommodation. Such accommodations are cheaper than on-campus facilities. The range of rentals of both university and off campus guesthouses could range be around USD 350 up to 1,500 a month.

Most universities have an international student office which assists in finding on-campus or off-campus accommodation suiting budget and needs. A temporary accommodation in the meanwhile gives enough time to plan further living arrangements when a candidate arrives at the destination country.

Useful websites
  • Roommate Locator:for finding rooms to rent in your new home 
  • Housing Anywhere: free international housing network where one can rent, sub-let, and swap accommodation.
  • Just Landed: has information for ex-pats relocating abroad, with useful guides to 38 countries. 
  • Share my flat: a not-for-profit website where landlords post rooms available.
  • FUSAC: for France; and Loqou: for Spain, offer accommodation that cater for particular countries or regions.
  • Erasmus Insider Guides: provides the perspective on a place from previous participants


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