Student accommodation might seem like it would be an easy thing to sort out, but trying to organise living arrangements when you are in an entirely different country might place a few bumps in the road.
If you are planning to study in Australia, you will find a range of student accommodation options, all of which can suit different needs depending on what you are looking for in your university home.
However, with some research and some guidance from the tips below, finding student accommodation in Australia might become just little bit easier.
1. Where do you want to stay?
There are four main types of student accommodation in Australia: purpose-built student housing, homestay, private rentals and residential colleges. Some universities may offer some different options, but they will usually fall under these categories in some way.
Purpose-built student housing: these will usually be built around the university campus. Students will have their own fully furnished rooms but will have to share bathrooms and kitchens with other students. Some buildings will also have additional amenities such as a gym or a TV room.
Bills will usually be included in the overall price, and it’s unlikely that you will have to sort out your own internet or electricity providers. These places are also usually self-catered, but there may be some catered options available.
Homestay: a homestay allows international students to say in the home of a local family, usually for the first month or so on arrival. This option will help students to integrate fully into the Australian way of life, to meet people and to spend time living as a local. There are websites that can help you to find the right homestay, or you can ask your university to recommend homestays that would suit you.
These may be a good option if you are looking for somewhere to spend a few weeks while you find your feet and seek out a longer-term accommodation option.
A homestay may look like a slightly more expensive choice at first (especially just for one room in a family home), but in most cases meals and bills will be included.
Private rental: this is where you find and rent a flat or a house through an estate agent. You will usually be paying rent to a landlord and will likely have to organise your own bills and utilities. This means that you might have to budget more for unexpected expenses, but you have greater freedom in choosing the location of your home.
Prices of this option will vary depending on where you are living in Australia. You can usually find these through local estate agents, and again your university can help you with recommending some agents.
Residential colleges: Residential colleges are usually located on or around campus. They differ from purpose-built student accommodation in that your meals will most likely be provided and you will also benefit from a weekly cleaner. All rooms will be fully furnished, and you won’t be required to pay separately for internet access or other utility bills.
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2. How much can you spend?
Working out how much you can spend on accommodation is a good way to help you narrow down your options and focus your search.
The prices will vary widely for the four different options above, so it’s always good to do your research and see what you will be receiving for your money.
For example, a homestay might be slightly pricier than purpose-built accommodation, but that might be because meals are all included. And rent for apartments and houses will be different across the country, so be sure to do some research on the average student rents on the city or town you are planning to live in.
As a very rough guide, on-campus accommodation is typically A$440-A$1,100 per month, a homestay is about A$450-A$1,200 per month, and shared rental accommodation is about A$380-A$850 per month.
Something else to bear in mind is that larger cities such as Sydney and Melbourne will usually have much higher rents and costs of living than a smaller town.
3. When should you start looking?
It’s always a good idea to start thinking about your accommodation pretty much as soon as you know where you will be going to university.
It might take some time for you to decided which of the four options above will best suit you and your budget. Allow yourself enough time to look at a few different properties/homestays and to ask friends or family members for recommendations if they have also studied/lived in Australia.
In particular, if you are thinking about renting a flat or a house, this may require some time to find a property you love and then ensure that you have all the correct paperwork to secure the property. Make sure that you check with the agent/landlord what paperwork you will need at the start of your search so you can make sure you have it all ready when you find the right apartment.