How to Choose the Best Student Accommodation

Studying overseas takes a lot of preparation and thought (and more than a few headaches), but once you have selected your course and institution, it’s time to think about accommodation. For a student, where and how you live can make a big difference to your experience of a country, so picking a place that suits your lifestyle is pretty important.

It is worth noting that most institutions will have services set up to help you find accommodation, so if you are unsure you can ask them for information on a range of local accommodation options. These services can be very helpful as they often have access to the costs of each option, allowing you to compare prices. When you have selected a place, they can often help you prepare to make the move. Alternatively, you are more than welcome to ask us at Spiible for help too!

There are several types of student accommodation available, which can be split up into two categories: On-campus and Off-campus.


Living on campus

Living on campus provides many great opportunities to meet people and create friendships with other students. By living so close to the institution, students are usually able to walk to classes, saving money otherwise used for public transport. You will also be close to weekly events and activities that most campuses hold. Additionally, campus accommodation is usually well arranged and students often have access to decent Internet and kitchen appliances. There are a few styles of on-campus accommodation that are usually available.


Colleges and Halls of Residence

Most colleges and halls of residence are situated on or right next to the campus itself, making them the ideal choice for people who like a strong sense of community and want to meet new friends. These are mostly single bedrooms with shared facilities like bathrooms and kitchens, however some might offer apartment style rooms with a living space and small kitchen. Most institutions will also offer facilities like gyms, screening rooms and even swimming pools if you are lucky. Colleges tend to offer services like daily meals etc, while residences may offer students more independence to make their own meals. To find out more about these option you will need to inquire at your institution and look around on their website.


  • Amazing way to meet new people and become immersed in university life, as colleges tend to have lots of parties.

  • Students will save time and money otherwise spent getting to class.

  • Co-curricular activities on campus will be more accessible.

  • Students are able to become more independent.


  • Living quarters tend to be pretty small, and the presence of a roommate can mean a lack of privacy.

  • Can be expensive, especially if services like Internet are not included in the cost of the place.

  • Many institutions have rules that regulate noise level, overnight guests and occasionally a curfew.


Living off campus

Living off campus allows students much more freedom and independence, and will normally result in students experiencing more of the local culture and lifestyle. Most options also allow students much more of their own space and privacy. Living off campus prepares students for life after education; by letting them manage their budget, cook their own meals and even pay their own bills. However, managing your own household for the first time can be stressful, so prepare accordingly. There are plenty of living options at many different price ranges, but remember that if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Things like location, facilities and services can all affect the price, so a nice looking house with a low price could mean that you will be paying extra for additional services.  



Renting can involve living by yourself or in a share-house with roommates. It gives you the freedom to choose where you live, as there are plenty of options ranging from inner city to outer suburbs. Size is a major factor influencing price; are you looking for a single room or a whole house? Location will also shape your experience as an outer suburbs home might be cheaper, but will mean longer commute times which might discourage you from activities in the city. The renting process can be pretty complicated; having to juggle financial obligations and the rules of the landlord, but the freedom and independence make the whole process worthwhile. Renting with friends or as part of a share-house can be worthwhile financially as you can split the cost of the rent across the residents. This can be a flexible accommodation style, as there are options for shorter stays or longer contracts. There are plenty of sites that list places for rent around Australia (like, but we recommend looking around on cultural facebook communities first, as you can often score a better deal or end up living with similar individuals. (If you don’t speak english very well then finding people who also speak your language can help a lot!)


  • A lot more freedom than other accommodation options.

  • You can choose where you live (inner city, outer suburbs, rural etc).

  • Usually pretty short leases ranging from 6 – 12 months.


  • Can get expensive, especially with food and bills.

  • It can be difficult living with other people, especially with different lifestyles.

  • You have to deal with landlords and real estate agents.



Hostels are often great short-term options, especially while you get something more permanent sorted out. They are great places to meet people, as travellers and tourists often pass through them for a few nights. Similar to colleges they tend to be single rooms with access to shared facilities like bathrooms and kitchens, and some hostels will even supply meals if you want them. In addition to single room rentals, some hostels will also offer dorm style accommodation or share-rooms, which can be useful depending on the situation, but offer significantly less privacy. Hostels can be a very cost effective form of Accommodation, with options ranging from AUD $18 a night, as seen at the Nomads St Kilda Hostel:

Unilodge is also a popular choice for students, as it has a hostel in every capital city in Australia and New Zealand, usually in the centre of the CBD.


  • Great short-term solution.

  • Offer plenty of opportunities to meet new people.

  • Plenty of options in the heart of the city, great if you are studying in the CBD.

  • Can be relatively cheap.


  • Shared facilities with a large number of people, sometimes 50 or more.

  • You may find that the cost doesn’t measure up to what you get, especially if you pay more for meals.

  • Lack of privacy.



Sometimes the best way to experience a culture is to immerse yourself in the lifestyle of its residents, and a great way to do this is to live with a local family. Normally this involves renting a room to yourself, however you are sharing a space with the family. As part of this experience, students usually get to participate in family activities, chores, meals and have unlimited use of household utilities. Prices range from nightly costs to weekly rent payments, so find what suits you best. Homestay placements can be hard to acquire, so if you are interested, your institution's student services staff might be able to help. There are also websites set up which help you to organise a homestay, such as which offers a range of accommodation at a nightly cost.


  • Genuine cultural experience.

  • Unlimited use of household utilities.

  • Saving money otherwise spent on food, laundry etc.

  • You don’t lose the family atmosphere or creature comforts you are used to at home.


  • Costs vary greatly.

  • Some people find it lacking in social opportunities.

  • Some people find it hard to adjust to a new families way of life.

  • Can mean less privacy.


Living at home

While not exactly an option for most international students, if you have friends or relatives who live in the area this can be a very cost-effective solution. By minimising rent and living costs, students don’t have to work as much allowing for more of a life away from education or work. This does however minimalize the independence of the student, which some people can find stifling.


  • Saves students a lot of money

  • Great functional and emotional support

  • Less costs mean more of a life outside school

  • Access to a quiet study space, something quite difficult to find in a shared space


  • Students may miss out on access to communities at their university, and their social life can be negatively impacted

  • Students may wish for more independence if their parents have strict rules

  • Students may not learn the importance of making decisions and being independent.

So how do I choose where to live?

There are plenty of sites that can help you find and book your accommodation, but we recommend searching around within local facebook communities for people with rooms for rent. Other websites such as Gumtree and are great for finding a place. At the bottom of this article we will include a list of websites that will help you in your search.

Now that we know the options that are available, it's time to consider what sort of lifestyle suits you.

Living overseas is expensive, without a doubt, and while most student visas allow you to work, cost is still a big influence in our housing choices. Before you pick a place, set a budget; how much do you think is a reasonable weekly/monthly price? Keep this budget in mind when looking at your options.

Location is also a big consideration, do you want to live close to your campus or are you happy to catch public transport? Location will also play a role in the cost of the residence.

Once these options are considered, you want to find a place that suits you. If your lifestyle doesn’t fit your accommodation then the two can clash, negatively impacting your lifestyle. Shared spaces like colleges don’t offer many opportunities for peace and quiet.

Finally, keep in mind that accommodation is a commitment, and while it might not always be for a large period of time, it is worth thinking things through. A 12-month lease could become a nightmare if you can’t tolerate your messy housemate!

Good Luck!

Where to find/book accommodation?




Student Apartments





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