It is recommended that students choose & secure their accommodation, that best suits their budget, before arriving in the US and/or commencing study.
The most common accommodation options are :
- On-Campus Residence Hall/Dorm
- Off-Campus Homestay
- Off-campus Private Accommodation (such as an apartment)
Once the student is enrolled, their institution’s Admissions Department or International Student Office will likely send them a pre-departure orientation package, which generally includes information on accommodation options. Housing is often available on campus (though it is not as available at community colleges or PET schools). If the student prefers off-campus housing, they will generally be required to research options independently, though their institution may also be able to provide a list of current available private accommodation options.
On-Campus Residence Halls/Dorms
Most post-secondary institutions offer residence halls, also called dorms, that are conveniently located on or near campus. Residence options offered by institutions can be found either on the institution website or by contacting the institution directly. Dorms often offer a range of living options for students, from a shared room with another person (and a shared bathroom with the rest of the students on the floor) to more private, apartment-style living.
Many international students choose to live on-campus during their first year to make their transition easier. Campus residences are furnished, and often also include cleaning and meals. Although dorms typically offer less privacy and living space than private accommodation, they can help foster a smoother transition to life in the US.
Students should consider the various residence hall floor plans a university /college has to offer. Acceptance to an educational institution, however, does not always guarantee a spot in a dorm. If the student is interested in living in a dorm, they should apply as soon as possible.
Here are some of the reasons why a student should opt for on-campus housing :
- Convenience and affordability: Because dorms are located on or close to campus, students don’t have to worry about commuting to school. A wide range of services, including maintenance and food, are provided. Some dorm accommodations offer cafeteria meal plans where students, having paid a set price up-front, are issued two or three meal tickets per day. Telephone connections and utilities such as electricity are typically ready to use.
- Socializing: Being with other students in dorms can make it easier to make friends, connect with classmates, and find study partners.
- Safety and support: Dorm advisers and community aids (CAs) often live in undergraduate dorms, watching out for students, assisting them with everyday problems, and directing them to professional support services, if needed.
Contact Us to know which factors you should be aware of before choosing a Residence Hall / Dorm.
Another great way to connect with local people is through the homestay program. Students can choose to live with an American family, who become their “host”. The “host” family is screened by a professional agency. Some schools may even have a preferred homestay agency that they work with.
Off-Campus Private Accommodation
Students also have the option of renting an apartment or a room outside of the school. Some schools have services that help students find a place, known as off-campus housing assistance. For temporary accommodations, students can also consider staying at a hotel or Airbnb, many of which offer discounts for extended stays. Please note that this is an expensive option and should only be used as a last resort.
The Housing Office of most education institutions are primarily concerned with on-campus housing, so students interested in private accommodation (e.g., apartments) will generally have to make arrangements themselves, and will be responsible for contacting the landlord, inspecting the premises, and determining the suitability of any accommodation. They should, prior to arrival, research safe and convenient neighborhoods in which to live, get a sense of price ranges for accommodation, understand whether utilities are included in the rent, and know whether Wi-Fi is available.
With private accommodation, international students will also find that rents vary widely depending on the neighborhood, condition, size of accommodation, and if they are sharing premises (and with how many others).
When assessing the suitability of a private apartment, international students should:
- Ask questions and check details. Run the water, flush the toilet, and inspect the appliances to ensure everything works.
- Make sure the window and door locks are in good working order, and that the front and back doors (and nearby streets) are well lit.
- Location is important. How close is public transportation? Even if it is far from the education institution, it could still be a good choice if the student has easy access to a direct route to campus.
- Assess surroundings. Are grocery stores, pharmacies, etc., close by? How noisy is the building and the neighborhood?
- Check out the neighborhood after dark with a friend to see what the area is like in terms of safety and security.
- Budget for food, utilities and personal items for a real sense of how much everything will cost.
Contact Us to know which factors you should be aware of before choosing an off-campus private accommodation.