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Accommodation While Studying in USA

Once you’ve chosen a college, you will need to decide on where and how you are going to live in the U.S. Choosing an accommodation is a tricky affair; some students want privacy whereas some students want to interact with as many people as possible. You will need to make a decision regarding the accommodation and housing keeping your personal preferences in mind.

Most students decide to live in a temporary accommodation in their initial days in the U.S. These can be in the form of living with relatives or living in hotels. Many colleges also provide temporary residential facilities for international students. Such facilities can be very helpful for students who need some time before making a decision regarding their accommodation.

The basic choice you will have to make is whether you wish to live inside the college/university premises or not. On – campus accommodations refer to those facilities that allow students to reside with other students either within or very close to the college premises. It is important to keep in mind that not all colleges offer on – campus accommodations for international students.

Off – campus accommodations, as the name suggests, are the ones that are separate from the college authorities and do not involve living within or near the college premises. These are independent accommodations generally in the form of apartments or houses. International students generally tend to rent and live in these apartments in groups. 

Where to live: On – Campus or Off – Campus?

Whether to live on campus or off campus is a very personal decision. Many colleges advise International Freshmen to live on – campus for the first year at least. This helps students adjust to their new life in the U.S smoothly and also helps them be a part of a social circle. Living on – campus can be very beneficial if you do not mind interacting with a lot of students and will help you meet people with different viewpoints and ways of living life. On the other hand, living on is subject to quite a few restrictions. Not only that, but it often gets difficult to maintain privacy and study while living on – campus.

Living off – campus is a completely different experience to living on – campus. You will be required to look for an apartment/house and negotiate with the landlord yourself. It is generally not recommended for 1st year students as it can be difficult adjusting to living alone or in small groups straight away. You might face difficulties with directions and daily chores like shopping for groceries etc.  However, living off – campus provides you with a lot of flexibility and complete freedom. You will be allowed complete privacy and can live the way you want.

Many of you might prefer living off – campus, eating and living the way you want with complete independence. However, you should keep in mind that living off – campus is not that easy and often leads to international students not having big social circles. Also, finding cheap off – campus accommodations is not an easy task.

Many of you might even prefer to live on – campus and interact with a lot of people. You should keep in mind that it might be difficult to concentrate on your studies and you might not get as much independence as you would like. For example, many colleges have structured meal plans and follow fixed timings which you might not be comfortable with.

Choosing either of the two depends on your personal preferences and budget. Consider both options carefully before making a decision.

How to go about it?

The best and most useful resource in terms of finding information about housing is contacting the Housing Office of the college/university you’re going to join. You can also contact the ‘Foreign Student Advisor’ who will provide you with the complete details regarding on – campus accommodation. Most colleges would require you to fill in additional forms and possibly make a deposit so as to confirm that you will be residing on – campus.

It is important to do this as soon as possible because there are a lot of applicants for on – campus housing and the available accommodation is generally not enough for all students. Most colleges give out the accommodations on a ‘first come – first serve’ basis. However, there are some colleges like the Harvard University who guarantee on – campus accommodation for all its students for 4 years. Contact your college and go through its official website to find out more details about on – campus housing.

Finding off – campus housing is comparatively more difficult. However, it is most likely that the housing department of your college will have tie – ups with nearby apartments and housing societies. Speak to the Housing Office to find out about the various options available. Under most circumstances, you will first have to find potential roommates who are also looking to live off – campus. You will have to negotiate with the landlord and sign the contract. Most landlords would want you to pay the rent of 1st month and the last month in advance. Go through the contract details carefully before finalizing the agreement and make sure that the locality is safe and friendly.

Study in USA