How Do I Find Student Accommodations?

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How Do I Find Student Accommodations?

As a pathway program participant, you have a lot to think about before jetting off to your host country and new school. Once you’ve met all the necessary deadlines, including taking the entrance exams, passing the language proficiency exams and obtaining a student visa, you have other important things to think about, like where you are going to live. Finding housing while living in the same city to which you intend to move can be difficult but trying to find housing when you’re in an entirely difficult country may seem impossible. While your host school should be able to help you out with this challenge, you can put in work on your end to ensure that when you arrive, you have a nice place to call home.

  • Tips for Simplifying the Search

    For most people, it’s not feasible to buy a flight ticket just to house hunt, only to have to return home, start packing and move back within a month. Be kind to your bank account and go about the house hunting process in a smarter, more cost-effective way. Some things you can do to take the headache out of the process include: Check online university bulletin boards Use the internetLeverage your network Avoid scams When all else fails, arrive early

  • Check Online Bulletins

    Most universities have online bulletins on which both students and faculty members post about everything from the latest internship opportunities to open housing. You’re likely to find dozens of ads titled “Roommates Wanted” and “Studio Available.” This may be your best bet, as it’s not likely that students or teachers are trying to scam you. If you don’t find anything promising, move on to step two.

  • Take to the Internet

    Google is your best friend. Begin your search on more reputable sites such as Rent.com or Realtor.com. Try to avoid Craigslist. Though the site can reveal a gem or two, it has an awful reputation for turning up nothing. If you find a promising place, pull it up on Google Maps or Street View. The pictures may look great, but for all you know, they were taken 20 years ago when the place was still livable. If a dwelling looks good on Google Maps and Street View, send the property manager a quick email or, if possible, give them a call. If the initial interaction goes well, take it one step further by inquiring about rent, security deposit, move-in date and the lease.   Notice we said “property manager.” When renting online, it’s best to deal with reputable third parties, as it’s hard to tell if you can trust an owner. If possible, try to go through a real estate agency, real estate broker or property management company.

  • Leverage Your Network

    If you have friends already overseas, this should be your first step. Because they’re already there, they can take a look at places for you, ask around their own network and, if they’re a really good friend, meet up with a property owner or manager on your behalf. This is a great option instead of hunting for a place yourself.

  • Avoid Scams

    Of course, this is easier said than done, but not impossible. Apartment internet scams usually follow the same patterns, which makes it easier for people like you to spot them. For instance, if an apartment looks too good to be true – meaning that the pictures are amazing, the location is prime and the price is within your budget – it’s probably not real. Unless your budget is ridiculously high for the average citizen, anything that looks amazing and that falls within a college student’s budget IS too good to be true. Another thing to look out for is missing photos and poor grammar. If the ad has twelve pictures of the exterior but none of the interior, avoid it. If it has absolutely no photos, keep searching. If the ad advertises an “Apartmet for Leas in Las Angeles,” don’t just assume that it’s a scam, but do tread carefully. Most landlords try to be as professional as possible with their ads, so poor grammar and spelling is a red flag. If a person asks for a security deposit without even speaking with you, it’s likely a scam. You should not hand over a security deposit until you’ve communicated with the landlord or property manager several times, looked up both the property and the person with whom your dealing (do the details they gave you match those you found online?), ran a background check, discussed terms of the lease and signed the lease.

  • Arrive Early

    If you had no luck online, or if you’re just too wary to make a security deposit without meeting the landlord and seeing a place in person, arrive a month ahead of schedule. Book temporary accommodations and hit the pavement. Aside from the pressure you might experience with this method, it may be your best option, as it is a surefire way to avoid scams and therefore, avoid losing thousands of dollars to a con artist.

  • Types of Accommodations to Look For

    Now that you know how to hunt for student accommodations, it’s time to consider the types of houses or apartments that you should look into. As an international student, you want to immerse yourself in the student population, not avoid it by renting a private studio off in the middle of the city. To fully submerge yourself in your new country, consider leasing one of the following types of housing units: Student houseShared apartment On-campus dorm

  • Student House

    Student housing is different from dorm rooms or resident halls in that student houses are generally off-campus and, whereas a dorm is just a room, a student house is just that – a house. Several students usually occupy the house and each either gets his or her own room or shares a room with one other individual. Instead of having to eat in a cafeteria or dining hall, as dorm residents do, students who live in a house can cook their own meals in the home’s kitchen. Houses come with more privacy than dorms and all the conveniences of a traditional home, but in a student setting. The only pitfall of renting a house as opposed to staying in a resident hall is that you won’t get the opportunity to meet as many people as if you stayed on campus during your first year. Unless you’re confident that you’ll be fast friends with your new housemates, an on-campus dorm may be a better option.

  • Shared Apartment

    Like a student house, an apartment is off-campus and comes with more privacy than the standard dorm room. However, it is usually smaller than a house and typically comes in one-, two- and three-bedroom units. For this reason, apartments generally offer less socializing opportunities than houses do. That said, renting an apartment can give you the freedom you wouldn’t have when living in a resident hall. It may also be the most cost-effective option. In addition to having all the amenities you may need during your stay – a private bathroom, a kitchen, hot water, etc. –apartments are also maintenance-free. Whether you need a light bulb changed or the air conditioning unit fixed, a repairman can do it for you.    Some apartments come with additional features such as a gym, pool and free parking (a bonus in a big city!). If amenities are important to you, apartment life may be for you.

  • On-campus Dorm

    Though this option provides the least amount of freedom and even fewer amenities, it is the best for socializing and getting to know your peers. There is no better way to get to know your classmates than to live with them and go through the adventures of curfews and shared bathrooms together. Another perk of living in a dorm is the free utilities. Though renting a dorm room can cost slightly more than renting an apartment or a room in a house, it often includes Wi-Fi, cable TV, electricity, water and gas. By forking over a little more each month to stay in the dorms, you may end up saving thousands over the course of the school year.

  • Let the Professionals Help

    Searching for student housing in your host country while you’re still living in your home country can be difficult. Fortunately, there are dozens of resources available to help international students find safe, affordable and convenient housing both on and off campus. If you’ve already completed the admissions requirements and received your admittance letter, you’re halfway to the finish line. Give yourself an advantage during this last lap and reach out to a resource such as SchoolApply for the help you need to find housing you’ll be happy in for the duration of the school year. SchoolApply is familiar with the housing options around most schools worldwide and is ready to help you navigate the market, communicate with landlords and find a deal you won’t want to miss. Contact SchoolApply today to get started.

Levels Explained

  • Bachelor's

    A bachelor's degree (also called a first degree or undergraduate degree) is attained after receiving a post-secondary (high school) education and generally spans four years. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as bachelor or undergraduate students. A bachelor's degree is usually offered at an institution of higher education, such as a university.

  • Master's

    A master’s degree (or postgraduate or graduate education) involves learning and studying for academic or professional degrees. This degree is preceded by a bachelor’s degree and generally takes two years to complete. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as master's, or grad students.

  • Pathway

    Bachelor’s and master’s pathway programs are designed for international students who need additional English language and academic preparation before continuing to a degree program at a university. The purpose of these programs are to give students the confidence and skills needed to succeed in college.