Where should you live during your studies in the United States?
To best answer that question, examine your available
options, your financial situation and your personal preferences.
Generally, housing options include on-campus living, off-campus
living and homestay. Learn more about these options below.
For the first year, most students (and their parents) prefer to
select on-campus housing in a dormitory. It's very convenient
and often saves money in the long run.
You'll be close to the library, classes, administration buildings
and international student services. You'll also be able to use
campus services, such as movies, dances, sports, exercise rooms
and swimming pools. And you'll be living with other young students,
so you'll feel more a part of the school experience.
For that reason, it will probably be easier to make friends if
you live on campus.
Dorm rooms tend to be somewhat spartan in their furnishings,
so students usually use their creativity in decorating them inexpensively.
You may want to check to see whether these dorms close for the
American holidays, especially if you won't be going home during
those times. Also, be sure to check whether they offer kitchen
access. Especially if you want to cook your own meals.
Living in a dorm usually provides a greater level of security.
There is often a campus security force for student protection.
However, you should still exercise caution, especially when walking
alone at night.
Typically, you only need to write a letter to the school's housing
director to receive cost estimates and options. Some colleges
and universities offer single/double rooms; a meal plan and a
Sometimes it doesn't make sense for a student to live on-campus.
Perhaps they are studying at a community college that doesn't
offer dormitory living. Maybe they are married with a family and
the college doesn't offer married housing. Or perhaps they are
an older student, who doesn't want to live on campus. In those
cases, there are typically off-campus options in nearby apartment
buildings or small houses.
Living off campus does allow students more freedom. Students
will have more access to kitchens, so they can cook their own
meals more easily. Typically, off campus living is quieter than
a student dormitory too.
On the other hand, students in these situations will have a great
deal more responsibility and less security. There will be separate
bills to pay, besides the rent. Bills for gas, water, electricity
and insurance, to name a few. They'll also need to handle all
the issues related to transportation, roommates, housekeeping,
laundry, noise, neighbors, budgets and landlords.
Transportation, in particular, is an important consideration.
It may be very inconvenient to take public transportation (such
as buses or subways) to school. Or it may be too far to walk or
bike. Students can always buy a car. But the budget will be profoundly
affected by this decision. Especially when insurance, gasoline
and repairs are considered.
Additionally, many students find themselves feeling isolated
from the school experience, when living off-campus. Especially
their first year.
Unfortunately, homestay with an American family is not always
easily obtained at a university or college. Sometimes, short courses
can be arranged that offer homestay for the duration of the course.
This option requires careful screening of volunteer families by
US university officials to prevent any potential risks to the
To find out if your school offers homestay opportunities, contact
the school's housing office.