When it comes to housing, international students in the U.S. have a few options. You may be wondering which option is the best, and that’s really up to you to decide. Each option has pros and cons, but it’s important to do your research to determine which housing option is the best fit for you.
Living on your college or university’s campus is often a convenient housing option. Most university campuses offer resident hall and apartment-style housing, however, if you are attending a college with a smaller student population, on-campus housing may not be available. You will likely be asked to indicate if you are interested in on-campus housing when you apply for your college or university. Housing may also be available through Greek Life, if you decide to rush a fraternity or sorority.
Pros and Cons of Living On Campus
Pro: It's close. Depending on how big your school's campus is, you’ll likely be able to walk, bike or skate wherever you need to go. Oftentimes, students who live on campus hardly even step foot off campus.
Con: It's expensive. Typically, schools charge a one-time, all-inclusive rent fee for on-campus housing. This means you probably won’t have to worry about paying electricity, water or internet bills individually. But you will likely have to purchase a meal plan which can be very pricey.
Pro: The social aspect is fantastic. Living on your school’s campus is a great way to socialize and you can easily attend on-campus events. Sometimes, the people you meet in on-campus housing can even become lifelong friends.
Con: You'll likely have roommates. Depending on the kind of person you are, this might not even be a con. But if you enjoy having your own space, resident hall life probably isn't for you.
Pro: International student housing may be an option. Many colleges and universities have residence halls that are specifically for international students.
Con: You could have to move a lot. Residence halls generally aren't open during breaks and other times when school is closed. So you may need to find temporary housing for those time periods.
Off-Campus Apartment or House
There are a few types of off-campus housing but for this section, we’ll cover renting an apartment, a townhouse or a home. If you live in a college town, you’ll be able to find lots of off-campus housing that is designed specifically for students, but many will fill up fast before a new semester. Oftentimes, this type of off-campus housing only allows college student residents, however, some off-campus housing complexes may allow other residents as well. Other housing complexes don’t have restrictions so you could likely have non-student roommates and neighbors. Let's take a look at some pros and cons of living in off-campus housing.
Pros and Cons of Living Off Campus
Pro: You'll likely have your own room, and as a result, you'll have more privacy than if you lived in a dorm.
Con: Living on campus is a great way to make friends with people at your school, but living off-campus means you won't be as close to the action. This could have an impact on your social life.
Pro: On-campus residence halls tend to look very similar to each other. Off-campus housing options offer various styles and amenities that may not be available on campus.
Con: Security is not a guaranteed amenity. College and university campuses will have a robust security system in place on campus. You’ll likely see campus security watching residence halls and parking lots to prevent break-ins. Some off-campus housing options have security, however, that’s not always the case; you'll want to make sure to ask about this when touring apartments, townhouses, and homes.
Pro: You can save money. Often, off-campus housing options are significantly less expensive than on-campus housing options.
Con: If you have a long commute, you must factor in travel expenses and time.
Homestay programs allow international students to stay in a host family’s home throughout the duration of their studies. There are many homestay services, such as StudentRoomStay, that will get you matched with the perfect host family.
Pros and Cons of Homestays
Pro: Having a host family that you can turn to for support is a big advantage. Many international students don't have this and can experience heightened levels of stress due to culture shock. You’re still likely to experience some culture shock but having a host family to support you eases feelings of isolation and anxiety.
Con: You'll have to respect house rules. While living under a host family's roof, you may not have as much freedom as you would on your own.
Pro: You can adjust to American culture a little easier. Your host family will teach you about the cuisine, local people and customs, etc.
Con: You'll be slightly removed from campus culture. But the good news is that your host family will likely be able to help you out with commuting to and from campus.
Read more information about homestay programs and take the first step in the process.
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