Given how big a task studying abroad is, looking for the right type of accommodation can be pretty intimidating too. On average, you could say that a student spends over 50% of the day outside of the classroom and while we might think it does not matter where you live, it certainly leaves a mark on your university experience abroad.
One of the popular options for freshmen in the US, living on campus in America gives a unique exposure to student life, especially if you are an international student. However, it sure is not the only accommodation option. After living on campus for a year, many students gradually move into other residence or housing types available in the city.
This takes us to explore the two major types of student accommodation in the US: on and off-campus housing.
Living On Campus in the US
Popularly known as on-campus dormitories, American schools offer accommodations to international students on-campus along with the resources they require to succeed. This is considered the easiest way for students coming from outside of the US for it ensures a smooth transition from home to a new country.
Typically, American schools require international students to live on-campus for at least one year, some might have longer residency requirements which can go up to four years. Here are some of the features of on-campus dormitories in the US:
These are buildings with rooms designed for two to three students.
Students share large bathrooms.
They are in close proximity to classrooms, cafeteria and other campus facilities.
Living on-campus usually comes with flexible meal plans including breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Utilities such as electricity, telephone connections, laundry facilities are readily available.
Daily needs are met by the university or school.
Guaranteed student safety with limited access to residence halls, staffed front desks with students or security personnels.
On every campus across the US, you will be able to find different types of housing and styles. Today, colleges even offer private bedrooms with shared common areas, a range of facilities or studios or models with multiple bedrooms. In fact, a growing number of residence halls have started to offer gender-neutral bathrooms.
Some US universities also have picturesque settings, making it one of the major attractions for international students. These include waterfront views, acqualitic activities, range of water sports, a live lakeside and so on.
As far as rental costs of US on-campus housing are concerned, they vary wildly depending on the university, location and the nature of accommodation. As per the Urban Institute, a nonprofit think tank, the average cost of living on campus as an undergraduate student ranges between $10,000 and $11,000 annually at both private and public colleges.
Living Off Campus in the US
At US universities, you are likely to be assisted by an off-campus housing office while you are on a house hunt. It also often helps students find a roommate to share expenses with and provides information about the nearby facilities, restaurants, public transportation, parks and so on.
Living off campus in the US usually includes two options, to either rent a room or apartment near the university or staying with a family in their home, known as homestays.
Renting a Property
This includes a house or an apartment, either shared or private. Shared apartments are the ideal choice for college students which ensures lower costs, shared responsibilities, a bigger social network and so on.
An apartment is more secure and has a private entry, has fewer tenants per unit and a more responsive landlord or property manager, a house is typically more spacious, cheaper, offers better chances of pets being permitted and will most likely have private amenities.
Leasing agreements have rental periods which can be broken down into durations of one year, six months, three months or month-to-month. Generally, the longer you rent a place, the cheaper rent you will need to pay. However, a month-to-month lease will allow greater flexibility and little to no consequences if you were to stay for a very short period of time.
To rent a property, you, as an international student, will have to submit the following documents:
Rental history, contact information of former landlords, dates, addresses and more,
Social Security number and date of birth,
Co-signer information in case you do not have enough credit history,
Pay stubs or bank statements to show income
Looking for a Suitable Accommodation Closer to Your University Campus?
Homestays in the US are another viable option for international students, who are relatively younger. Homestays let international students or visiting scholars live with American families and experience American culture from inside.
A homestay is typically close to the university campus, where you can get your own room, meals and various amenities or chores. These arrangements are usually made through the university and the hostas usually have prior experiences with houseguests. The cost of the homestays in the US, like any other accommodation option, varies by city.
Things to Remember Before Choosing Student Accommodation in the US
Now that you have an idea of what the types of student accommodation are in the US, here are a few tips to help you find a suitable accommodation:
Draw Up a Budget: The first thing you need to do before you begin with the search is to find out how much you want to spend on accommodation. While picking a price, consider factors such as location, facilities, type of accommodation (private or shared), availability of prepared meals, and more.
Find all Options Available: Find, analyse and differentiate between the options of student accommodation available in your area. Well, the best option if you are only in the first year would be on-campus accommodation.
Research the Area: In case you choose to live off-campus, make sure that you have enough knowledge about the area. Ideally, you should live pretty close to the campus, in a student-friendly neighbourhood, so commuting to the university every day does not become a hassle. Here, another thing to explore before moving is if the area offers all necessary facilities, restaurants, student hotspots, grocery stores and so on.
Deposit Amount: You may have to pay a security deposit before moving on. This amount is usually not greater than your rent and is returned after you move out provided you have abided by all the move out terms stated by the landlord.
Lease Terms: Do not sign the lease agreement until you have read it. Look for details such as length of lease, utilities included, move in and move out dates, terms and conditions and other additional charges, if any.
Need More Information About Student Accommodation in the US?
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