15 Questions to Consider When Looking for Off-Campus Accommodation
Universities in many cases offer international students on-campus accommodation to save them the hassle and stress of arranging accommodation while in their home country or when they have just arrived in their country of study. This benefits students in many ways:
When they arrive, they know exactly where they will live and can settle down immediately.
They can direct their belongings that need to be moved to this address, eg: textbooks, items, furniture, etc.
Before they arrive, they can message their roommates and get to know them.
Parents/guardians know where their children will be.
They know what they have in their accommodation (eg furniture, appliances) and what they need to bring with them.
However, in some cases, international students cannot rely on their university for on-campus accommodation. For example, in Australia there is no campus culture as in the UK and USA and it is more common to live off campus. This can also happen if students delay their application too long – so you should apply as soon as possible.
Here are 15 important questions (and a few extras) to ask yourself to confirm that you didn’t miss anything in the process of arranging for off-campus accommodation and that you made a sound choice:
Deciding where/how to live…
‘How do I want to live with students?’
Most students generally want to live with other students. Although their preferences vary depending on whether they want to live with international students they know (from their home country or a different country). Or with students from that country. Both options have advantages and disadvantages: when you’re with other international students. You’ll already have a lot in common, especially if you’re from the same country. When you live with students from that country, you will be more likely to interact with students from that country and you will have the opportunity to get to know that culture more.
You may also encounter people trying to help you on social media. Are these types of people who will study like you or need the same calm environment when you need to study or concentrate on a subject? Or are they people who are more into socializing? While their approach to social media doesn’t usually represent them as individuals. Or potential roommates, examining their social media activity is a good way to learn about that person. This way, you can see what is important to them (what statuses they share or what kind of tweets they tweet). As well as what they are interested in and what they do in their spare time.
‘Is homestay for me?’
Homestay means living as a guest in a family’s home. You usually pay rent for a room (which is usually quite low compared to on-campus accommodation). And negotiate with them about meals, Chores, and any guests that may come home. The family gives you the rules of the house from the very beginning, and you share your own ideas to determine in advance whether you can follow them. You should not forget that you are a guest in their home and they have children (if any) and you should take the necessary care to respect them and their lives.
If you’re a mature student or clearly don’t want to live with other students, homestay may be a sensible option for you. You can also learn about their culture and improve your language skills in this family environment. Some parents specifically choose this option as it means their children will be sharing a family environment with adults.
‘How do I get to campus?’
If you plan to bike to class and are on campus every day. Then you can limit your search to within close proximity to campus. You can use Google Maps to see convenient paths for cycling. You don’t want to cycle through spooky wooded terrain or undeveloped terrain. If you plan to use public transport, you can browse the most preferred bus or train routes and stops/stations to avoid having to rely on occasional services.
To start searching…
‘Have I contacted the international students unit at my university?’
They have likely dealt with students in the same situation before and have good relationships with real estate agents/accommodation operators. In addition, previous international students who received assistance from the international student unit may graduate and vacate their place of residence. Therefore, as the main contact person between you and the university, it would be beneficial for you to contact one or two employees from this unit. With the Accommodation department who can give you more information on this.