Studying abroad is an exciting opportunity for those who want to expand their horizons and meet people from different countries while pursuing their learning objectives. One of the critical preparation steps when studying abroad is finding a place to stay. This task can be a bit daunting, as students are not always equipped with the knowledge to make the right choice.
Here we will first recap the most common housing solutions for international students and then focus on some critical factors you'll need to consider when making your decision.
Popular Housing Solutions for Foreign Students
On-campus housing - Many universities and colleges offer on-campus housing for students, which can provide easy access to study areas, libraries, and other learning facilities.
Off-campus housing - These accommodations often come with more independence than on-campus housing, as tenants can choose their roommates, cooking arrangements, and decorating preferences.
Host family - Staying with a host family is a helpful way to immerse yourself in the local culture and practice language skills with native speakers. It usually includes meals and extra assistance when needed.
Homestays - This type of accommodation involves living with a host family without having meals provided as part of the package. It's ideal for those who want autonomy and flexibility while still feeling connected to the local community.
Short-term rentals - Short-term rental options like hotels or AirBnB can be helpful for those who are only studying abroad for short periods or need more flexible arrangements that don't require a long-term commitment or paperwork from landlords or universities.
Shared apartments and houses - Renting an apartment or house with friends or other international students is a popular choice amongst students due to its cost-effectiveness and the higher opportunities for group activities such as socializing, sightseeing trips, and studying together
Private apartments and houses - Renting an entire apartment or house independently is another great option for those who prefer more privacy during their studies abroad.
Let's now focus on four useful considerations when choosing the right housing option.
#1 Logistical Convenience
Proximity to your university or campus and access to public transport, local amenities, and stores are all key factors when choosing where to stay. Having a conveniently located apartment or room can make the experience of studying abroad much more enjoyable and stress-free. The inclusion of facilities such as access to washing machines, kitchen appliances, fast internet connection, and dedicated communal spaces must also be considered when evaluating different options.
Additionally, students should consider the cost of heating, water bills, or any other additional expenses associated with the chosen accommodation. Students need to do their research into all local laws and regulations regarding housing before signing any contracts or making payments.
Security should also be on top of your mind when choosing a housing solution for an abroad student. Knowing you live in a protected environment will give you more peace of mind while away from home. Security measures include heavy-duty locks, CCTV (such as parking lot, corridor, or elevator security camera), and intercom systems. In some countries, housing providers must meet specific safety requirements to rent out their properties legally. Therefore, it's crucial that students are aware of these requirements and ensure their chosen accommodation meets them.
#3 Social Opportunities
When choosing the place to stay as an abroad student, ask yourself how it affects the number of social opportunities you'll be exposed to. Living in student accommodation can be great for meeting new people and expanding one's network, making it easier to make friends and build a support system. Being surrounded by students studying similar courses can also provide access to study groups or informal classes, depending on the university.
On the other hand, single rooms or private apartments offer a more independent lifestyle. They are perfect for focusing on studies without too much distraction. It's important to consider whether this type of living arrangement needs to be supplemented with additional social activities if you wish to make more connections during your stay abroad.
#4 Cultural Immersion
Will your living arrangements give you enough time to immerse in the local culture? Living with natives can provide valuable insights into the culture in which you're living and its customs. It's also a helpful way to pick up new language skills, as well as make friends who will be able to show you around their country and introduce you to traditional foods and activities.
Finding the right balance between cultural immersion, freedom, and comfort is key when considering any housing options abroad. Prioritizing one of these aspects over another may lead to dissatisfaction and discomfort later on.