How to Survive in the US – Housing for International Students


This post focuses on issues related to students and housing. Education is a luxury without food and shelter. Many students go to the US yearly without preparing for said concerns. Students should consider these two aspects before making travel arrangements.  

This will not apply to you if you have a relative in the city where you will study.  The location should be near the school and accessible to public transport.

* Home Stay or Host FamilyI relish the host family because I stayed with them when I studied in the US. The experience was great since they treated me like their own child. Majority of host families enjoy the company of foreign students.  It is more of passion than money.

* On-campus housing/student housingThis usually calls for sharing a room with another student.  The rate is more expensive compared to other housing type.  However, it provides a good environment and convenience of staying close to the campus. The school is within walking distance. This is not ideal if you have dependents and pets. Rental terms are from August to June but do not cover summer.

* Off-campus housingThese are private apartments located in cities where you study.  Prices vary widely. You must consider costs, security and location. Some students prefer to share two or three-bedroom apartments with other students. This can reduce costs but be very careful in choosing roommates. School officials do not intervene in case of scams and quarrels.

These are things to prepare for if you will rent apartments:

* You need to apply. Not all universities provide housing services. 

* Most apartment owners demand social security numbers. The SSN applies only to US residents. Explain to the property manager that you are a foreign student without an SSN.

* A security deposit is required prior to reservation for security of the owner.  The fee will be refunded at the end of your school-year lease. Cost of damages will be deducted from this deposit. International students have 0 credit scores. In short, you will likely be required to pay twice or thrice the regular security deposit which is a normal procedure.  The deposit can go up to $2000 depending on the place. It is more expensive in New York.

* The monthly rent for apartments may or may not include utilities and furniture. Make sure to ask the owner about this.

* The move in date is generally on or before the date of your arrival in the US so you have a decent place to stay.

* Look for the most convenient location. It should be near the university and grocery shops. You have more options if you will have a car.  Otherwise, on-campus housing will be the best choice.

* Read your contract terms carefully to avoid problems and scams.  This usually happens in off campus housing because schools have no control over these units.

* Consider transportation such as relatives or airport pick-up services during your first day in the United States.

Nghi Tran – CFO/ Marketing Manager in Vietnam

Related Posts:

Learn more about Greenhandshake