Accommodation for international students in the USA

In this article, we will discuss the types of student accommodation before we get to learn some information on the student life in the USA. Universities do not impose a certain type of housing on you. You can either choose to live on or off-campus.

Where do international students live in USA?

International students’ favorite types of accommodation include:

  • On-campus dorms or residence halls
  • On-campus apartments
  • Flat-sharing
  • Homestay
  • Private off-campus housing

If you choose on-campus housing, you’ll be required to apply on your university’s official website.

Residence halls

This is the most popular student accommodation type in the USA. It usually consists of enormous buildings featuring plenty of rooms either individual ones or larger ones that are shared between two or more students. These dorms have basic rooms with private bathrooms and communal furnished rooms. Some on-campus accommodation in the US include catering services, but most of them have kitchens where students can cook their own food.

On-campus apartments

This is another student housing option in the USA, at the university area. These are usually apartments that can host 4 to 8 students. Residents usually have their own bedrooms and share the kitchen, living room and bathroom. It’s important to keep in mind that if you choose to live on campus in the US, you must start the accommodation application as soon as you get your acceptation letter. For this type of housing, it’s usually a first-come, first-served policy.


First-year students in the USA usually opt for residence halls. This is actually the best way to get acquainted with the life on campus and socialize. But at the second and third years, students move to off-campus housing, namely flat sharing or apartment renting. Those who choose this type of student accommodation need to sign a rental contract, setting down the terms of their stay. One thing to remember is that if you opt for any off-campus student housing, you need to check if your rent includes or not utilities.

Family stay or homestay

Another viable off-campus option is living with American families. This is the most recommended option for students under 18, who then can be placed in a family living from 20 to 40 minutes from the campus. Usually, students have their own room, and they can have food easily available. Moreover, students can benefit from the comfort of a family home while away from their home country. This is also a great option for students who don’t have the requested proficiency in the English language, as they can improve their skills through the culture exchange.

Private apartment

The last student accommodation option is renting a private studio or apartment. This is the most luxurious option but also one popular option for students at universities that don’t offer on-campus housing. In this case, students can reach out to their university’s housing office to assist them in finding the right place to live. They also offer information about the local neighborhoods, restaurants, shopping areas and public transportation. Of course, this also needs the signing of a rental contract. So, make sure to check the terms before signing anything and also, check about the utilities’ costs.

Example of On-Campus Accommodation Application

Application link for On-Campus Housing at Duke University in North Carolina.


Notes to Consider When Choosing Your Student Accommodation 

  • On-Campus accommodation ensures that everything you need is within reach. The major advantage is that you will have no need for transportation.
  • In addition to being within close distance to your faculty, you’ll be provided with meals and other services.
  • The disadvantage of On-Campus accommodation is the lack of personal space. In cases of private rooms, your room might be small. If you have a shared room, your roommate might not be friendly or may not give you any privacy. In both cases, you may be disturbed.
  • Off-Campus housing may not be as close. Therefore, you’ll need transportation to get to university.
  • The allure of Off-Campus housing is the quiet atmosphere. You can also choose to live alone or share the space with your friends.
  • Prices will vary depending on whether bills for electric, gas, internet, etc., are included.
  • Monthly electricity bills range from $50-$60. They also vary depending on your usage. For example, if you use an electric heater, your bill may rise up to $150 per month.
  • Gas bills normally range from $10-$15 a month depending on your usage.
  • Unlimited internet service with the speed of 10 megabytes will cost you around $50 a month.


Before signing, you are advised to review the rent contract for whether utility and internet bills are included.


How much is student accommodation in the US?

The US ranks as the world’s most expensive place for students. And it’s also worth noticing that on-campus accommodation is sometimes more expensive than off-campus ones. The lowest cost student accommodation in the USA includes flat sharing, homestay and renting a studio. The most expensive option would be to rent a private apartment which rent will cost up to $2,000 per month.

Sharing an apartment with 4 roommates will cost you between $400 and $600 per month. If you opt for homestay, this will cost you between $300 and $500 per month. Residence halls on the other hand, will cost between $800 and $900 per month. If you decide to buy your own food, the cost drops to $600 – $800 per month.

Learn also about the living cost and study cost in the USA for international students.

How do I find student accommodation in USA?

You can start by the housing office of your university. But in some case, you can also check websites such as:

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