Once you have received your student visa and enrolled into your course, it is time to start thinking about your accommodation options. There are many different types of accommodation, including on-campus accommodation and private rentals. Another popular option is to arrange a homestay experience. This involves living with an Australian family in their home, which provides many advantages for international students.
1. You have time to settle into your studies
It’s normal to feel homesick when you first arrive in a new country, especially if you are away from your family for the first time. Arranging a homestay when you first arrive in Australia means that you will not miss out on the comforts of home, and it will also ensure that you have time to get settled into your studies without the stress of organising on-campus or rental accommodation. Even if you would like to live independently, you might consider homestay accommodation for your first month in Australia so that you have time to settle into your new city and research other accommodation options.
2. You can learn about Australian culture
Living with an Australian family is the best way to learn about the Australian way of life. This might involve joining your host family on weekend trips, trying new foods or attending sporting events, such as an Australian Rules Football (AFL) game. Your host family will also have a lot of local knowledge that they can share with you, such as how to use public transport in your city and which destinations to visit during semester breaks. You will also be able to teach your host family about your own culture and what life is like in your home country.
3. You can improve your English language skills
You will be able practise your English both on and off campus, which means that you will become a more confident speaker and will find it easier to communicate with your teachers and classmates. You might even pick up some new words or phrases, such as Australian slang. Australians may speak a little more quickly than what you are used to, so it is acceptable to ask members of your host family to repeat what they have said if you are having trouble understanding them.
4. Homestays provide a safe and welcoming environment
Families who provide homestay accommodation are interviewed and carefully screened by institutions and accommodation agencies to make sure that they will provide an appropriate environment for a visiting student. They may even receive special training before you arrive. There are many different types of homestay families, including parents with children, retired couples and single individuals. You may be able to submit preferences on your application form relating to your dietary requirements, your preferred family type and pets.
5. Homestay can be much cheaper than other accommodation
Homestay is one of the most affordable accommodation options. While the average cost of homestay is AUD$110 to $270 per week, other types of accommodation can cost up to AUD$400 per week. You may be required to pay a homestay placement fee. The cost of a homestay includes utility bills (gas, electricity and water), which are usually paid in addition to rental costs in other types of accommodation. You should ask your host family about use of the telephone and internet. Meals are also included — usually breakfast and dinner on weekdays, and breakfast, lunch and dinner on weekends.
You can arrange homestay accommodation through your institution or through a recognised homestay agency such as the Australian Homestay Network. For more detailed information about arranging a homestay, you should contact individual institutions. You can use the Enquiry form on this website to request information about your accommodation options.
For a comparison of the various types of accommodation available for international students studying in Australia, including availability and cost, see Accommodation.