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Accommodation for international students

As an international student, securing the right kind of accommodation in which to live during your stay in a new country will go a long way to shaping your study abroad experience in a positive way.

The type of accommodation that you will find during your studies will depend on the country and university that you pick, and in some cases on your budget. We will describe the most popular types of accommodation that you are likely to find at university, how much they are likely to cost and which type of accommodation you should pick.

What types of accommodation are available for students

Depending on the country and university that you pick, you may be able to choose to live in accommodation provided by your university, or you may have to find private, rented accommodation.

In some countries, there is a housing shortage for international students, and it is very difficult to find even private rented accommodation. For example in the Netherlands, the housing shortage is very severe and finding accommodation quickly is crucial if you want to take a place studying in the Netherlands.

Types of accommodation provided by universities for students

Halls of residence/Student dorms

Halls of residence are a very popular purpose-built on-campus university accommodation option in countries such as the US, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia.

Large universities will often have several halls from which you can choose, if this is the case, it makes sense to research which of the halls will be located most conveniently on campus for your studies.

Most typically in the US, but sometimes at Canadian and Australian universities, living in halls on campus will also include a mandatory meal plan which will cover all your meals during your studies. Halls in the United Kingdom and also many in Australia tend to be self-catered.

At most university halls of residence, all your bills will be included in the accommodation fees, meaning you don’t have to worry about paying for electricity, gas, water, or the internet. In the UK, communal areas are also likely to have a TV license, though you will probably require one to watch TV in your own room.

The types of rooms you will find in student halls are usually single bed or shared rooms, often with shared bathrooms and kitchen facilities. You may also find triple or quad rooms, with three and four beds respectively.

There are plenty of benefits to living on campus, especially if you are a freshman/first year student. Living on campus means that you don’t have to worry about transportation, as you will be within walking distance of your studies. Living amongst other students means that you will be able to take part in any organized activities and the social life that surrounds living on campus, which will help you to make friends quickly.

Shared flats and houses

Shared purpose-built flats and apartments are popular student accommodation options in countries like Australia and New Zealand, and also found in countries like the UK and the US. They tend to be located on, or near campus, and usually have between four and eight bedrooms per apartment. Apartments can be found with shared facilities, or with ensuite bathrooms and shared kitchens. Smaller than student dormitories, shared apartments usually feature bedrooms with single beds. 

Compared to student halls and dormitories, you are more likely to socialize more with only your flatmates in shared apartments, which you may find appealing.

Like student halls and dormitories, your accommodation fees will cover all your bills, such as water, gas, electricity and internet access.

In some countries, such as universities in New Zealand and Australia, shared purpose built houses may also be available, with the layout essentially the same as shared flats.

Types of private accommodation for students

Student dorms

In most countries, private, purpose-built student dormitories are available and very popular with students, especially when they serve universities that cannot provide on campus dormitories and halls of residence.

Well known companies running private student dormitories include UniLodge, which serves Australia and New Zealand, Unite Students, which serves the UK.

Shared flats/houses

Shared flats are a popular way for students to live and study surrounded by their friends. If students have been able to attend halls of residence in their first year at university and make friends with fellow students, they may wish to move into private shared flats in their second year of university.

Shared flats and houses may come with varying degrees of facilities, but will usually provide shared bathroom and kitchen facilities. Single rooms are most common in shared flats, but double rooms may also be available depending on location.

Private apartments

For students who choose private accommodation and wish to live alone during their studies, they may choose to rent a private apartment, also known as a studio apartment. These will be apartments with a single room, with private bathroom and kitchen facilities. They will typically be more expensive than shared apartments or flats.


A homestay gives an international student the opportunity to stay with a host family in the country of their university. The fees involved in a homestay tend to be regulated and will cover bills and home prepared meals for the student during their stay. Host families will be able to provide a room for the student, along with shared facilities in the host families home. Homestays can be a great opportunity for a student to adjust to their new surroundings.

Short-Term Accommodation

International students might find short-term accommodation options useful whilst they find long term accommodation options. These could include hostels or short term rentals.

How expensive is accommodation by country

We looked at a random selection of universities from several popular study abroad destinations and looked at the pricing of accommodation for international students, allowing you to compare the prices and accommodation types that you can expect to find. We have normalized all prices to USD for comparisons sake.

CountryProviderAccommodation typeAccommodation and Price In USD (per year)
AustraliaWestern Sydney UniversityOn campusShared from $7,048.18
Studio from From USD $10,146.86
AustraliaACUOn campusFrom $11,779.58

To $14,527.09
AustraliaGriffith UniversityOn campusShared from $5,547

1 bed apartment from $14,422
CanadaSt Thomas UniversityOn campusDouble room from $7,239

Single room (en-suite) $11,289

Meal plan $4,000
CanadaYork UniversityOn campusFrom $5,464

To $7,418
CanadaUniversity of AlbertaOn campusFrom $ 6,594

To $8,250
ESSCA School of Management
Angers campus
Private accommodation, found on StudapartPrivate flat share From $ 5,114.04
FranceESSCA School of Management
Strasbourg campus
Private accommodation, found on StudapartPrivate flat share From USD 5,340
FranceESSCA School of Management
Bordeaux campus
Private accommodation, found on StudapartPrivate flat share From USD 5,208
FranceESSCA School of Management
Lyon campus
Private accommodation, found on StudapartPrivate flat share From USD 5,544
FranceESSCA School of Management
Private accommodation, found on StudapartPrivate flat share From USD 6,456
FranceAudencia Business SchoolCrous NantesFrom $3,252
To $4,566
Franceemlyon business schoolPrivate accommodation, found on StudapartPrivate flat share From USD 4,956
GermanyConstructor UniversityOn campus

Accommodation on campus also requires a meal plan at an additional 4,000€ per academic year
Double room, shared bathroom $4,350
Single room, shared bathroom $5,979
Single apartment $USD 7,066
GermanyFree University of BerlinStudierendenwerk BerlinFrom $404 USD per month
GermanyUniversity of StuttgartStudierendenwerk StuttgartFrom $315 per month
ItalyJohn Cabot UniversityResidence halls and apartmentsFrom $8,478

To $11,956
ItalyBocconi UniversityResidence hallsFrom $9,324

To $12,708
ItalyPolitecnico di MilanoResidence hallsFrom $4,456

To $5,978
New ZealandUniversity of AucklandOn CampusFrom $8,470

To $12,604
New ZealandUniversity of CanterburyOn Campus$14,456
New ZealandMassey UniversityOn CampusFrom $5,437

To $10,678
United KingdomUniversity of GlasgowOn CampusFrom $5,644
To $10,529
United KingdomUniversity of SheffieldOn CampusFrom $6,291

To $13,496
United KingdomUniversity of DerbyOn CampusFrom $6,132

To $11,282
USAUniversity of ChicagoOn CampusFrom $11,607.00
USAUniversity of MichiganOn CampusFrom $8,416

To $18,332
USAIowa State University of Science and TechnologyOn CampusFrom $4862

To $6488

From this small selection of universities, we can see that on campus accommodation options ranged between $5,500 and $14,400 per year in Australia. This compared with between $5,646 and $11,289 in Canada, $5,644 and $13,496 in the UK and $4,862 and $18,332 in the US. Whilst it is worth pointing out that this is only a small sample of universities, it does show that on campus accommodation can be found at similar price points at universities all round the world.

In European universities, students are much more likely to have to rely on privately rented accommodation, as space for accommodation is at a premium. This doesn’t mean accommodation need be too expensive, as Studierendenwerk organisations in Germany, and Crous organisations in France both offer students reasonably priced accommodation options.

A final point to consider is that the more prestigious universities or universities located in areas where the general cost of living is higher may charge their students more for accommodation. Always check well ahead of time what your accommodation options will be like at your chosen university so you can plan ahead!

Living with roommates

If you choose to live in shared accommodation, a skill you will need to learn is living with roommates. Maintaining a good relationship with your roommates will make your experience at university much easier. These following tips can help you to get on famously with your roommates.

Keep everything clean and tidy

Make a schedule for tidying up and taking out rubbish, and try to share the responsibilities evenly. Try to keep on top of chores in this way and avoid regular pitfalls that can occur in shared student accommodation, such as piles of unwashed dishes.


Good communication with your roommates is vital to make sure that you are all on the same page. Any issues can be identified and sorted out quickly if grievances are aired in an up-front but non-confrontational way. You don’t have to become best friends with your roommate if you don’t want to, but establishing a friendly relationship makes student life much more enjoyable.

Ground rules

You and your roommates should try to establish shared ground rules so you all know where you stand on important issues. These can include the sharing of food, the volume of TV and music, how late is acceptable to make noise, and how many friends are allowed to visit at once.


Even though you may be living in close quarters, both you and your roommates deserve whatever level of privacy they deem appropriate. Don’t allow your privacy to be invaded, and likewise don’t do anything that would make your roommates feel uncomfortable.

Give each other space

There will be times when both you and your roommates will want time apart, perhaps during stressful periods of study. It is important to recognise this and to make time and space for each other. If conflicts do arise from time to time, make sure to handle them calmly and try to establish a friendly atmosphere as quickly as possible.

University accommodation application process

If you are planning on applying for accommodation on campus, you can generally begin your accommodation application as soon as you have received your offer of a place at university. This may differ slightly depending on the university and country. Rooms are usually offered on a first come first served basis, so the sooner you make your application, the more choice you will have.

In the UK, applications are made online via your university website. You will usually have to register for an account to make this application.

In the USA, you must first confirm your place at university, which usually involves paying an enrollment fee. You will then be given details of how to apply for your choice of accommodation, including your preferences of room and roommate.

In Australia, students are generally expected to register online for the accommodation application process, international students must indicate that they are applying from overseas during their application. You must have applied to be a full-time or part-time student before making your accommodation application.

If you are looking for private accommodation, it is best practice to begin your search for accommodation as soon as you have received your offer of a place at university. There are no set application procedures with private accommodation, but your university will be able to offer support through the process.


As an international student, you have many different options available for accommodation whilst you study abroad. The options that you have to choose from may depend on the country that you choose to study, while on campus accommodation is the norm in some regions, private accommodation is the norm in others.

Make sure you start your search for accommodation as soon as you can to give yourself the most choice and the best chance of finding accommodation that fits your needs.