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Book Accommodation as an International Student

As an international student, the second you have your offer letter in and visa application done, your mind will be full of accommodation booking. Finding your home away from home is serious business. This is where you will be sleeping, eating, doing your homework, relaxing, and more

Types of Accommodation to Consider


Many universities offer on-campus accommodation for incoming students. Some even give priority to incoming, first-year international students! On-campus housing can include:

  • Halls of residence
  • Residential colleges
  • Student apartments

Depending on your budget and preferences, you could look into single and shared opportunities. Some dorms offer access to single or double rooms with shared bathrooms for the whole floor.

Other residences take the form of student apartments. A typical layout includes single rooms for each occupant with a shared common area, such as a kitchenette with appliances like a microwave, fridge, washing machine, etc. Rooms often share an en-suite bathroom.

Pros of On-Campus Accommodation
  • Close to your classes and student supportservices
  • No need to worry about coordinatingwith a landlord
  • No need to manage monthly utility payments (these are usually packaged within the overall price)
  • Easier to transition into student life while living and studying among other students
Cons of On-Campus Accommodation
  • There is usually a limit to the number of rooms available
  • Generally, more expensive than renting off-campus, due to the high demand and exclusive services
  • Some students may not enjoy sharing common spaces like bathrooms and kitchens
On-Campus Housing: Catered vs Self-Catered

Catered: If your university offers this option, you can opt for the university’s meal plans. Depending on the university this gives you access to its dining facilities to cover your meals. Generally, you will pay a deposit for a meal plan package. Each of your meals deducts an amount from this deposit until you need to renew or upgrade the package.

Self-Catered: With self-catered accommodation, you have access to kitchen facilities to manage your own meals. You will have to shop for your own groceries and prep your own food. You will usually also have access to dining facilities if you pay the necessary deposits or fees.

Pros of Catered Housing
  • You don’t have to worry about doing groceries and planning meals
Cons of Self-Catered Housing
  • A meal plan may be more expensive overall than if you shopped and prepped your own meals
  • You have less control over your meal options
Pros of Self-Catered Housing
  • You have better control over your own meals
  • You can budget for your groceries and meals better
Cons of Self-Catered Housing
  • You will have to commit the time and effort to shopping for and prepping your own meals


Many students move out of on-campus housing after their first semester or first year. Off-campus housing can include a variety of options including:

  • Private Student Residences
    These are similar to the student halls and apartments universities offer, except private providers offer these options. Student residences typically populate the areas close to major campuses, so you still have the advantage of proximity. You are also living amongst other students, so you can enjoy the sense of community even off-campus.
  • Homestays
    Homestays are an interesting opportunity for you to stay with a host family in your destination country! These families will typically rent out a room in their home to international students. You get to experience the way of life of your destination firsthand. The experience can help you integrate into the local community more smoothly.
  • Private Rentals
    These are apartments or housing you rent by yourself or share with other room- or flat-mates. Private accommodation offers a bit more flexibility in terms of affordability and variety.
    Generally, housing closer to the city center (and closer to campuses) will be more expensive. Housing farther out from the city center may be cheaper, though the commute is longer. Ultimately, your choice of accommodation would depend on your preferences. Is the opportunity cost of the lower price tag less important to you than being close to campus? Are you willing or able to split the rent with others? Your personal preferences will inform your choice of housing