Study Abroad 101: Place to Live

Happy Friday!
As I wrote in my previous blog post, I am missing the life in California.
So I thought I will start writing some blog posts on the topic of “Study Abroad” to help other people.
Today is about Place to Live when you are going to study abroad.
This is my personal opinion based on my experience of study abroad (4 1/2 years in the USA, 2 months in Australia).

There are many different purposes for study abroad. Learning languages, going to a university, technical school, etc. So depending on your purpose and amount of the time you are staying, the best place to stay will be different.
My study abroad experiences are 4 1/2 years in the USA and 2 months in Australia.

Host Family

host family.jpgDon’t mind my high school crisis! LOL
But this was my host family in Australia. An old couple, whose kids are all grown up and have grandchildren. They were so kind and treated me like one of their grandchildren.
I recommend host family as a place to stay for those who

  • will study abroad for a short time of period
  • want to learn the culture
  • are young students (high school, middle school)
  • want to learn the language
  • visit the country for the first time

Staying for the short time of period, you can save money by living with a host family. You don’t need to spend money for furniture, or any other necessities for living. Keep in mind that living with a host family can be difficult depending on personality. I had the best host family in Australia, but the worst host family when I first arrived in the USA. She was a single woman who lives alone and renting rooms for students. There will be house rules. If you are someone who likes to go out at night and come back late, a host family isn’t for you. Living with a host family, you will be forced to speak the language to communicate and will have the cultural experience (food, lifestyle, etc). Living with a host family can be quite expensive, but it is negotiable depending on the plans (food, room type, etc). Depending on the location of the house, it can be inconvenient to commute for your school.

So after all, pros of living with a host family are

  • having the cultural experience
  • not needing to spend money on furniture and necessities
  • being able to learn the language
  • having someone to look after you (if you are underage)
  • safety

Cons of living with a host family are

  • conflicts with the host family (personality difference, money problem)
  • needs to follow the rules
  • cost
  • convenience (transportation)







I have never lived in a dorm, but my opinion is based on the information I got from my friends in college. A dorm is a housing that each university provide for a student usually inside of the university’s property. Some universities do have rules for students to stay in a dorm. For example, my university had a rule that students who don’t live with their parents must live in a dorm for the freshmen year.
I recommend dorm as a place to stay for those who

  • want to make friends (from all over the world)
  • want to experience “the college life”
  • don’t cook (or don’t want to cook)
  • will have the minimum movement (college – dorm – college)

Living in a dorm, you will have to get used to sharing a space. Of course, it is about personalities if you can get along with dorm mate(s). If you have the scholarship support from the University, you might live in a dorm for free. If not, the cost of the dorm can be very expensive. If you do well on managing money, you can live with a host family at much lower cost. Be aware that there will be a noise issue. Living in a dorm, there is a chance of meeting many other students. If you are dreaming of having “the college life”, a dorm is your place. You cannot choose who you live with so you might end up with another international student who speaks the same language as you do.

Pros of living in a dorm are

  • being able to make friends
  • ready to eat food at any time
  • convenience on commuting

Cons of living in a dorm are

  • cost
  • lack of privacy
  • noise issue & conflicts with dorm mates


Room/Apartment Sharing


You can also rent an apartment and share the apartment with other students. You can also share a room within the apartment if you want to save extra money. Renting an apartment can bring problems and much responsibilities.
I recommend room (or apartment) sharing for those who

  • will study abroad for a long time
  • is planning on staying in the country after school
  • need privacy

Renting an apartment as an international student can be very complicated. This will only apply to renting an apartment in the USA, but here is what you need to do. You will need deposit money, which is usually much higher for international students since they don’t have credit, and must show I-20. I-20 will be the financial proof for international students since we cannot work in the USA. Some apartments don’t accept international students. But once you get an apartment, you have much more freedom. You can either rent on your own or share with other students. You can choose who you want to live with and where you want to live. Cost can vary, depending on the apartment and with how many people you want to share. If you are planning to stay in the country for more than a year, I recommend renting an apartment. You will have to buy all the necessities, but you can always sell when you have to leave. You can find roommates through Facebook page or flyer at international student office or at the language school. It might not be the safest place to live depending on the neighborhood you choose. By seeking for the comfort, some international students live with other international students from the same country. Those people usually don’t learn the language well, so keep that in mind if your purpose of studying abroad is to learn the language.

Pros of living in apartment are

  • privacy
  • freedom
  • having more control

Cons of living in apartment are

  • safety
  • needs of buying all the necessities
  • responsibility and difficulty of renting a place


That is all for the tips on how to pick a place to live when you are studying abroad.
I did not include sorority, but I assume it is similar to dorm or sharing apartment.


I hope this helped some people!
I am planning on writing this blog also in Japanese on another day.
Thank you for reading and if you have more questions, ask me in the comment section!


–  Nozomi


One thought on “Study Abroad 101: Place to Live

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s