travel & accommodation
Organising accommodation before you depart for the USA is essential. Your institution may have pre-booked accommodation for you, or you might need to organise this yourself.
Most institutions will ensure that they can offer accommodation for international students for at least their first year, but this isn't guaranteed. When you are accepted on a course, you will likely be sent an accommodation pack and details of an accommodation office with staff that can help you find housing. Institutions strongly advise students to take advantage of this resource, as accommodation officers will have the information and contacts to help you find affordable and well-located student accommodation easily and quickly.
When researching your accommodation choices, you may wish to consider:
- How close is it to the institution?
- What public transport links are there?
- How close is it to shops and services?
- How big is your room?
- How many people are sharing your bathroom/kitchen?
- How much is the rent and bills?
Below are some of the main types of accommodation available to students. It is difficult to give approximate costs, due to the size and diversity of the USA, so these have not been included (contact your chosen institution(s) to ask about average costs in the area):
On-campus accommodation comes in various forms, ranging from shared or private rooms to one bedroom flats. It is most common to share a bedroom with another student (of the same sex), especially in the first year. The majority will have a cafeteria where residents eat their meals, but some may also have a communal kitchen. Normally, there will be a large, single-sex, shared bathroom, which you will share with other students living in the dorm. Some buildings will contain mixed-sex students, but you may be able to choose to live in a single-sex building if you wish.
On-campus accommodation is a popular choice for students as most campuses are located near the institution and provide services such as shops and laundry. It's also a great way to meet people and share your experience with other students. Basic facilities and bills will be included in your rent, which varies greatly according to location and room type. Students should apply for accommodation as early as possible to secure their preferred room type.
In cases where an institution has no halls of residence or places in halls are limited, they may offer institution-owned houses. Students are provided a study room in a shared house with other students. Rent varies and does not always include bills.
Fraternities (for men) and sororities (for women) are social organisations that students may apply to be 'accepted' into during 'rush week' at the beginning of the academic year. If you join a fraternity or sorority you may be offered a chance to live in a house shared by members of the organisation. This could be on- or off-campus, and there is usually an emphasis on social activities. You will normally be expected to pay rent. Members of the household will share bills and cleaning responsibilities, though some may hire a cleaner.
You may be offered the opportunity to live with a host family during your studies. It's a great way to practise speaking English and learn about US culture. You will be allocated your own private room and will be treated as a member of the family - sharing other facilities and being included in their activities. Students are also normally given morning and evening meals. You may be expected to help with household chores, and sometimes may also need to contribute financially to bills and other costs.
Alternatively you can rent a private flat, or room in a shared house; this usually entails your own private room with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. This option often suits those wanting independence. In most cases bills will not be included in the monthly rent; you will need to agree how you are going to share these, as well as the cleaning duties, with your other housemates.
You should be aware that there may be a minimum lease; often six to twelve months, and a deposit is usually required to cover possible damage, refundable when the tenancy ends. Students wishing to privately rent are advised to arrive in the USA a few weeks before their course starts in order to secure a place, as most landlords will not reserve accommodation without signing a contract. It is advisable to make sure you have seen the accommodation before handing over any money. Consult your institution's accommodation office for advice about renting privately.
For more information about student accommodation in the USA, please see the EducationUSA website.