Accommodation can determine life in Sydney. As international students, individual circumstances factor into the process of choosing the right fit. The research process is tedious and often overwhelming, given the handful of options available. So allow me to provide a guide to finding the perfect home.
Designed to cure homesickness and ensure you’ll feel loved, residential colleges are equivalent to the Houses in Harry Potter (but without the moving staircases and talking paintings). Think cafeterias, entertainment lounges, galas, etc! Endless college-held activities guarantee students the time of their lives at the uni. Each college carries a different vibe, ensuring no one becomes a misfit. Best part: strangers become homies for life and loneliness becomes the past.
These are similar to residential colleges, but are designed for students of a single status or otherwise to live independently. Choices of 2, 3, 4, 6 and even 8 bedroom apartments are offered, with the kitchen, bathroom and living room as the communal area. It is another way to build life-long friendships while living in a supportive community.
Like student apartments, studio apartments can be located inside or outside the campus, allowing students to be a part of neighboring suburb communities if they are not fond of university student life. A studio is fully equipped with one bedroom, kitchen and bathroom for one person and one person only (law states so). For international students who prefer to live on their own , studio apartments are the most appropriate decision.
Thank goodness universities have not forgotten about the international students on exchange or for (emergency) short-term stay. Budget-friendly hotels, hostels and serviced apartments are good for having shelter while scrambling to find a real place to settle in. Vacation rentals are also up for grabs as well as a few campus accommodations that offer housing for that short period of time needed.
Most university websites establish a separate site for independents, or “indies”, to post their advertisement specifically tailored for students’ needs e.g. close proximity to campus, easy access to transport and safe environment to live. Indies include landlords looking for tenants, home owners looking for an extra roomie or local families looking for another member to join their family. The crucial part that cannot be overlooked is to physically house-hunt and meet future landlords or roommates before moving in (it is illegal not to so as well).
Accommodation must follow legal housing practices and, more importantly, match its description and picture. Private accommodation requires in-depth knowledge of housing practices to ensure nothing is put against you illegally.
Among the array of options for private accommodation, homestay is not a bad choice if you are lucky enough to be offered a loving household. Living with a family means you have a new support network to keep you going. . The University of Sydney even partners with the Australian Homestay Network (AHN), which is a network that aims to ensure the well-being of students in the welcoming houses of friendly families.
Last but not least, a choice more popular in the inner west of Sydney is to live in a boarding home, often run by a church or humanitarian group. Almost like residential colleges except off-campus, boarding houses carry students of diverse backgrounds to engage with each other and make the most of their living in Sydney
One last reminder…
QS Top Universities, Mercer and The Economist all regularly rank Sydney as the top 10 most student friendly cities in the world. But(there’s always a “but”) pricing wise, students are looking at $200+ rent per week without utility bills and meals. As far as roommates or apartment neighbors go, reality could turn into a nightmare. And for students on campus who want to study ? Word of advice: earplugs and coffee will be your new best friend.
At the end of the day, choose an accommodation that you believe best suits your requirements to call a place home.