Congratulations! You have decided to study in the United States. Now you have another important decision to make. Where is the best place to live? Should I live on campus or somewhere else? Does my college have housing or residency requirements? The following information will be helpful in guiding you through these options.

On-campus housing

Living on campus can be a very challenging experience. Students who choose to live on campus often make lifelong friends very easily and become active participants in campus life. Most universities and colleges offer different housing options to suit each student's lifestyle. Most schools require students who live on campus to purchase a meal plan as well.

In many colleges and universities, rooms include air conditioning, cable TV, telephone and computer connections. In addition, many residence halls have computer centers, recreational spaces, food stores or bars, cafeterias, study rooms, and laundry facilities. For example, at University Extension at the University of California, Irvine, students in an ESL or certificate program have the opportunity to live in fully furnished university apartments consisting of two bedrooms and two bathrooms shared by four international students. The apartment complexes include a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and some have their own gymnasium.

Stony Brook University offers fully equipped physical activity centers in many of the on-campus housing facilities.

Safety is an important consideration when choosing where to live.

On-campus housing is extremely secure and each floor has its own resident assistant who is there to answer resident questions. In addition, each resident is issued an access card that ensures that the student or authorized guests are the only ones allowed to enter the building after hours.

Off-campus housing

Another option for students to consider is living off-campus. Private apartments are available for students who enjoy having their own space. There are also apartment buildings where a student can rent a room with a bathroom and share a common living area with the residents.

Remember that if you live off campus, you will need to make provisions for food, utilities and personal items. Students living in apartments near larger universities may be able to use the campus bus service, which often provides transportation to nearby apartment complexes.

Many apartments are offered fully furnished and rent includes water, cable TV and electricity. Most apartment complexes have Internet access so that students can stay connected at all times. Many other incentives are often offered to residents that may include a swimming pool, access to a fitness center, sun bed, and access to club facilities that may include a movie theater, pool tables, video games, etc.

Your U.S. program will probably have a director or a Housing Office to help you sort out your search for safe and pleasant housing near campus. Landlords provide a list of vacant apartments to the school for you to research online or by phone. They are usually located in buildings where other students live, so you'll be in good company.

At USF, students can easily find an affordable room in three- or four-bedroom apartments. The apartment complex seeks to bring together roommates who have similar interests or habits. For example, for someone who likes to study at night, it is a matter of finding other students who are also night owls. Most complexes offer activities for residents, such as pool parties or late-night games, which are great ways to meet new people.

It is important to remember that students must sign a 7- or 12-month lease to rent an off-campus apartment. Leases are legal documents that contain costly penalties if you decide to move out before the end of your term.

With the help of your school's housing counselor, you should have no problem finding your new home. Finally, be sure to check your school's Web site or program for housing requirements, as you may be required to live on campus during your first year there.

With the help of your school's housing counselor, you should have no problem finding your new home.


DORMITORY Dormitories, also referred to as dorms, are living facilities designed to house students. A cafeteria is usually located in the same building.

HOMESTAY Homestay; A system of housing that consists of a stay with an American family.