How to Live Off-Campus as an International Student

Most international students tend to opt for university dorms when they’re looking for living accommodations abroad. College dorms are a safe bet for those studying in a different country, and it’s a great idea if you’re just getting acquainted with a new place. Yet you don’t have to limit yourself to on-campus housing to feel at home!

Renting an apartment off-campus, or living with a local family, can not only be a unique experience, but it often means more freedom, privacy and, more importantly, cheaper rent. Here are some ways you can find international student housing off-campus:

Ask Your College

It is likely that your university or college will have an off-campus housing database, or a list of trustworthy resources, to help you find the right place to live before the semester begins. You can begin by searching on your university’s website for student housing advice, but it’s always easier to call and speak to someone directly. They will be able to help you guide your student housing search and answer any questions you might have about off-campus housing, rent payment for international students, and more.


Online Off-Campus Housing Tools

Ok, so we don’t have to walk the streets in search of “for rent” billboards on empty apartment windows anymore. But, the internet can also be a complicated place to look for trustworthy off-campus housing leads, especially if you don’t know much about the place you’re moving to.

Check out AmberStudent, specifically tailored to international students looking for off-campus housing. Just like us, they’ll help with sourcing, booking, and any paper-work required to sign your lease. Nothing to worry about on your side!

Search in Facebook Forums:

Facebook groups aren’t only great resources for people looking to connect and share experiences, but they’re also very helpful when it comes to searching for off-campus housing.

Some universities have Facebook groups dedicated specifically to international students. These are great forums to ask around about off-campus housing but don’t stop there. Look for and join other Facebook groups created by your university: your graduating year, your specific school or major should have online communities for you to explore.  

On the other hand, many cities and towns have Facebook groups for people looking for roommates, housing, and sublets. For example, many students and young professionals in New York use a Facebook group called Gypsy Housing to find and post rooms to rent. What is great about these groups is that most of them are “invitation only,” which means there’s someone controlling who is seeing and searching for information, to limit scams.

Pro tip: Consider using keywords like “name of college” or “name of city or town” + sublets, housing, roommates, in your Facebook group search.

Homestay with a Local Family:

Homestay programs allow international students to stay with local families or hosts during their studies. Starting with homestay is a great way to transition into a new place, and it also gives international students the possibility of experiencing and learning about a culture first-hand. For international students looking for a cheaper alternative to campus housing, homestay programs are ideal.

Room and board usually include daily meals, laundry facilities, and in some cases, some light cleaning service, plus you don’t have to worry about furnishing and moving into a new apartment. It’s not only a more affordable option, but it can give international students more freedom to splurge on getting to know the city or town.


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