Accommodation can be a stress inducing factor for international students planning to pursue higher education in USA. Prior to the start of your college term, it is wise to explore your options and decide in advance where you wish you stay.
Even if you’re considerably late with the planning, there’s no need to panic. According to the Department of Homeland Security, USA currently houses a total of 1.2 million international students. If they overcame the difficult situation that you currently find yourself in, so can you. And we at collegedunia.com are here to help.
International student population at US universities has more than doubled in the last decade. The US embassy observed a 12% rise in the number of Indian students in USA for 2017. India is the second largest contributor of students in the States, comprising 17.3% of the total international student population. These statistics support the fact that USA is one of the most desired higher education destination among Indian students, and the number of foreign candidates studying in the US is only going up.
International students can primarily avail one of the two housing facilities mentioned below:
- On Campus Housing/ Dormitories
- Off Campus Housing
On Campus Housing
University dormitories, more popularly known as ‘dorms’ are the simplest solution to your house-hunting endeavors. Students can book accommodation directly through their college website and state their preferences.
These dorms are usually shared among college students and come with basic amenities such as water, internet, electricity and food. Rooms are generally shared among a group of two to three students but colleges even provide private room facilities.
Most of the first-year students prefer on-campus housing as it gives them the opportunity to mingle with students from different backgrounds and experience the much celebrated American college culture. Certain colleges make it mandatory for students to stay in dorms during their first year of study.
- Considerably cheaper than private housing facilities.
- Quick access to library and lecture halls.
- Interaction is made easier.
- No additional charges for most facilities.
- Lack of Privacy.
- You might not like your roommate.
Off Campus Housing
Students that do not wish to stay in dorms can find accommodation in off campus apartments. Shared apartments are highly recommended to students who wish to live communally with other students but with fewer restrictions as compared to college dormitories.
You can enjoy the luxury of your own bedroom while sharing the kitchen, bathroom and hall with your flat-mates. Students can choose from a variety of residential apartments depending on their budget and preferences. Facilities like swimming pool and cafes can be availed if your budget allows it.
Private housing facilities are usually situated in off-campus areas. This allows students to explore new surroundings and get a first-hand experience of life and culture prevalent in their university town/city. Keep in mind not to rent an apartment that is too far from your college.
A liaison officer is assigned by most universities to help international students with information regarding off-campus accommodation. This facility should be prioritized and first approached for any queries or help you need with your housing. If that does not work out, there are various housing companies that you can browse on the internet. College websites might come with links of housing agencies you can contact. While booking off-campus apartments it is crucial to enquire about the cost of utilities and safety of the neighborhood.
- Better interaction with the town/city and its people.
- No obstruction of privacy.
- Friends/family allowed for stay-overs.
- Added cost for utilities.
- Regular time-consuming commute.
Homestay in another less popular accommodation option available to international students who travel abroad to study. This program involves providing you with a local American host family that you can stay with. Facilities like food and electricity will be covered in your rent. Students who choose this mode of accommodation can truly experience the American culture, lifestyle and find a home away from home. Homestay is preferred by students who are below 18 but is not restricted to them.
Things to Remember While Choosing Housing Facilities in USA
Given below is a list of suggestions to help you pick the best housing that matches your needs and enriches your experience as an international student is USA:
- Decide which student accommodation option is right for you.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, it can be a little tricky sometimes. You have to prioritize your needs and then come to a conclusive decision that you need to stick with for at least a year. So choose carefully.
- Indulge in Extensive Research.
As an international students traveling to USA for the first time, it is alright for you to be absolutely clueless about the place you will occupy for the next few years. Hence, it is essential that you indulge in proper and extensive research before finally packing your bags and leaving for the long academic excursion. Look up the city/town where your college is situated and gain a little insight on how life would be there.
- Pick the Right Area/Locality for Residence.
Students that opt for off-campus housing facilities have to choose the right locality. Things you should keep in mind include: distance from the college, nature of the neighborhood, level of security and distance from basic facilities like hospitals, libraries etc. It is advisable to live at a distance from the university that allows commute on foot, bicycle or public transport.
- Gather Information Regarding US student housing.
It is important to be aware of all the important rules of US student housing prior to fixing a place for you to stay. For instance, tenants need to pay a security deposit of up to 6 weeks before moving in. Get to know about additional costs and cost of utilities. Read the rent-agreement carefully and try not to book any apartments through real estate agents without being aware of their fee.
- Decide Your Budget & Stick to it.
Fixing your budget is important. Money is arguably the most important factor which will help you decide what housing you can afford with the least damage to your privacy, comfort and safety. Hence, it is very important to chalk out a budget and find housing that agrees with it.
Finding student accommodation in USA is not a tedious job. However, it can sometimes become extremely expensive and time-consuming if you do not do your research in advance.