What types of accommodation are available for international students?
Finding good accommodation in Australia may be challenging - we hope that after reading this article you will get a clear idea what to choose and where!
Your home is likely where you’ll be spending most of your time, so it’s important that you pick the right type of accommodation for you!
Some people like to organise temporary accommodation for the first few weeks so that they can check out the options in person before committing, whilst others prefer to have everything sorted before they leave.
Whichever type of person you are, it’s always good to do a bit of research before throwing yourself in the deep end.
So, first things first,
What types of accommodation are available for international students?
Whether you are an introvert, preferring as less time around other people as possible, or an extravert who wants exactly the opposite, there are a bunch of different options you can pick from.
For those who prefer their own space:
For those wanting more of a community vibe:
For those looking for a party atmosphere:
For those who like the Budget Option:
For those who want to speak as much English as possible:
Still not sure which is for you?
Take our quiz to find out:
Share Houses and Shared Rooms
A sharehouse is private accommodation in which different people share a privately owned property, each contributing their share of the rent. Usually, each person will get their own private bedroom, whilst bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms and gardens are communal spaces.
Even in share houses however, you may be able to find a room with an ensuite (although this usually means you will pay extra). Some sharehouses even allow you to share a bedroom (separate single beds) to reduce the rent. However, couples (double bed) will usually pay more for a shared room than a single occupant.
Share houses are the most common type of accommodation for international students. You can band with a group of friends you already know and start a new sharehouse together or you can find a room in an existing sharehouse and join one that is already set up. This usually means you won’t need to worry about sourcing things like sofas, TVs and kitchen appliances. Bedrooms can either come furnishes or unfurnished, so you can filter based on your preferences.
They can be a great place to meet people and make friends, giving you a sense of community in a new town. Because a sharehouse has multiple occupants, it even means that bills such as internet, gas and electric are cheaper than in a single occupant home.
Share houses can also include apartments. There are pluses and downsides to living in an apartment. The plus side is that you can often gain access to an at-home gym, swimming pool, bbq, sauna and rooftop (depending on the apartment). Whereas a house may mean you get a more private backyard, less restrictions (e.g. not using common areas after 10pm) and mor leeway with noise).
Opportunity to make new lifelong friends
More of a community vibe
Bills are shared and therefore cheaper
Can come furnished or unfurnished depending on preferences
Covered by tenancy rights and can get free legal advice
Can not be an enjoyable experience if you get a bad house mate / clash with someone
Your housemates may not share your level of cleanliness which can cause issues
If a housemate leaves, you and the rest of the house will be responsible for the rent / finding a new housemate to cover the rent of the unoccupied room
Studios, 1-bedroom apartments, boarding houses and Granny Flats
A studio is a unit in which all living spaces (except for the bathroom) are in 1 area. For example, your kitchen, living space and bedroom will all be in 1 room. Studios can be large or small but in general they are cheaper than a 1-bedroom apartment but more expensive than a room in a sharehouse.
A studio is self-contained, meaning all the spaces are only accessed by you, meaning that you can keep the level of cleanliness that you prefer
A studio is cheaper than a 1-bed room apartment
You can enjoy the benefits of living in an apartment (communal spaces) without paying a premium
You rent a studio by yourself (or with a partner) so all bills will be more expensive than in a sharehouse.
If it’s a small studio, it can be cheaper but it may feel very cramped, especially if you share the space with your partner
The benefits of a 1-bedroom apartment is that you get to enjoy the privacy of a studio but with separated living areas. This can be a bonus or a downside depending on the size of each room. For example, a huge open plan studio may still feel more spacious than a 1-bedroom apartment if the rooms are smaller. A 1-Bedroom apartment will be more expensive than a room in a sharehouse and can be lonelier if you are not used to living by yourself or have not yet established a friendship group. However, a 1-bedroom apartment will be better if you are sharing the space with a partner as you will both get to enjoy more space.
A boarding house is when a house is separated into several living spaces, each room rented out separately. Oftentimes there will be a shared bathroom but private kitchen. However, this will vary depending on the boarding house itself.
Each bedroom must have it’s own lock and key so it is more secure than living in a sharehouse.
In a boarding house, you are only responsible for your own room / space so you are not responsible for filling / paying for any vacant rooms if an occupant moves out
Often cheaper than an apartment
Some boarding houses will give you your own kitchen
Can feel lonelier than a sharehouse
Not as private as a studio or apartment
Sometimes you have to share amenities depending on the boarding house layout (bathroom / kitchen) etc.
A Granny flat is a type of accommodation that sits in the backyard of a house. They can be any style, they may be open-plan/studio, more apartment-like with separate kitchen and living room or they can even just be a bedroom that is separate from the rest of the house. A Granny Flat often offers more privacy than a room in a shared house but is usually more expensive. A granny flat that adjoins a community sharehouse may mean that you can make friends with the people on the sharehouse offering you a balance of community whilst also enjoying privacy.
Hotels, Hostels, Airbnb and Guesthouses
A stay in a hotel is generally a private bedroom with an ensuite. Hotels generally offer more privacy than a hostel, however there are usually shared common areas such as lounges, dining areas and a gym/swimming pool (depending on the hotel).
Shared communal spaces (swimming poll / gym)
Sometimes you can get breakfast included
More private than a hostel
Sometimes you can create a separate arrangement with the hotel and agree on a cheaper rate of pay for a long-term stay
Usually more expensive than a hostel
Usually less opportunity for socialising than a hostel
More expensive than renting an apartment
No long term contracts
Not usually a kitchen that you can use
Guesthouses often offer the same privacy as a hotel however they are usually cheaper and less fancy. Guesthouses are usually family-run so they can feel a bit more homely than a hotel (although this is not always the case).
Hostels are generally seen as a cheap short term stay option for those who don’t mind sharing a room with many people. Often there will be many bunkbeds in the same room, and you could be sharing a room with 2-20+ people. This makes them a great budget alternative to a hotel without the long-term commitment of a rental property.
An abundance of opportunities for making friends – especially good if you are new to the city
No long term contract needed
Cheaper than a hotel
Often have many social activities planned where you can have fun and meet new people
Most hostels will have a share kitchen which can be used by guests (saving you money on take-outs compared to a hotel)
Can be super fun and lots of parties as well as organised day trips
Staff are often super helpful with helping you to set up your life in Australia
Sometimes you can make an arrangement to trade work for accommodation
Not much privacy – shared bedroom, shared bathrooms and shared cooking areas
More expensive than a rental property
You will need to book in advance and keep on top of your booking if you plan to stay longer term as they may sell your bed to another guest if you don’t keep on top of it
May need to make sure that they offer lockers / secure space for you to store your expensive items as you are sharing the space with lots of strangers
You will be sharing a room with lots of people which can be a problem if you are a light sleeper
Airbnb is a popular rental accommodation website where you get to stay in a house rather than a hostel or hotel. You can choose to rent an entire property or a room in part of a property with Airbnb. Airbnb is a great option if you want a homelier feel than a hotel. Airbnb is better for short-term stay as it is far more expensive than renting a room or a house privately. However Airbnb will come furnished and will not come with the long term contract of a private rental.
Homestays, community living and Au Pairing
A homestay is where you stay with a family. You pay rent to the family and in exchange you get to experience a more homely lifestyle than any other type of accommodation. Depending on the arrangement you may get some homecooked meals included (usually dinner) and you may or may not have access to use the kitchen. If you choose to go down the homestay route, make sure to book through your institution to make sure you are signing up for a credible and authorised homestay. Homestay is available for both short-term and long-term.
Ample opportunity to practice your English
Great option if you have not yet left home and lived by yourself
The house can often be nicer than a sharehouse with better quality furniture (although not always the case)
The families usually offer cultural experiences
Utilities are usually included
Less privacy and less independence than a sharehouse
Family may not want you to bring back someone you have met / friends to the house (though this is not always the case)
Depending on the arrangement you may not always have access to the kitchen
You may miss out on social opportunities when living in a homestay
Some students may find it difficult to become accustomed to the food, house rules and cultural rituals of the host family especially if it is very different to the ones they are used to back home
Au pairing is similar to a homestay in which you stay with a family in your own private room. The difference is that instead of paying rent, you either get free accommodation or you get paid depending on how many hours you work for them. Usually the work will mainly involve looking after children (watching over them, taking the to school, preparing breakfast etc.) but sometimes could also include tasks such as running errands, cleaning and laundry).
One of the cheapest ways to live in Australia
You may not need another job depending on how much you get paid / how many hours you do
Usually the room, shared facilities and furniture will be nicer than a sharehouse
More homely than living independently
Experience working with children which can open up opportunities for you to work around the world
Oftentimes you can get paid to go to the zoo, cinema and park etc. if you are taking the children out
Less private than living independently
It is a big responsibility to look after children. You have to be vigilant
There may be more rules that you have to abide by than living independently
You can feel like you are constantly on-shift even during hours you are not actually being paid for
It blurs the line between work and home
Community living is where you stay with an elderly person and help them by providing companionship and help with light chores. This is a very affordable type of accommodation.
Offer your companionship to an elderly person in need
Each house-mate match-up is carefully considered going through an in-depth interview process to understand their personalities and values, then they are matched with someone compatible
Each applicant goes through a stringent screening process including a police background check so you can rest assured knowing that your roomie has passed the tests
As many meetings with your elderly person as you need to feel comfortable can be arranged before you commit
More of a family vibe rather than shared or private accommodation
Will come furnished
Sometimes utilities are included
The Holdsworth community will provide continuing oversight and take continuous responsibility for the success of the arrangement
Not as private as private accommodation
May have more rules / be more limiting than a regular sharehouse
Less opportunities available so it may be further away from campus
House Sitting and Pet Sitting
A house/pet sit is where the owner of a property is going to be away from their property but they need someone to look after their pets or water their plants whilst they are away. They offer free accommodation and bills in exchange. Some opportunities can be paid although this is less common in Australia. Usually pet food / care is provided for you.
House and Pet sitting are often short-term and temporary, although we have seen pet-sitting opportunities lasting 9 months and longer.
Great for getting to spend time with dogs/cats/birds if you are a pet lover
It is a big responsibility to look after animals – you do not have the flexibility to go away whilst you are minding a house
Often it will be short-term – a few days/weeks, so you will need to keep packing and unpacking
It can be stressful if a pet gets injured or dies on your watch
House sitting is extremely competitive so it can be hard to find a good opportunity especially if you do not yet have house sitting experience and references
Uni Halls of Residence and Privately owned Student Accommodation
Halls of Residence
If you have enrolled onto a course in a university, your institution may offer it’s own student accommodation. These often vary between studios and small apartments through to large 8 room apartments. They are often on or very close to campus.
Usually on or very close to campus, meaning shorter commute times and you are right in the hustle and bustle, so you won’t miss any social activities
You will be sharing with other students who go to your university, and can make life long friends
Often utilities including internet are included
You can choose to move into an accommodation that includes meals, saving you time in cooking or buying groceries
Social, community spirit
Most of the rooms will have shared kitchens and bathrooms although you can opt in for a private kitchen and bathroom at a cost
Privately owned student accommodation.
These are purpose-build accommodations with the student in mind. They are not associated with a particular school or college so you will get to meet students from a wide range of schools and courses. There are different types of apartments to suit most budgets, including studios, twin rooms and 1-2 bedroom apartments.
Usually utilities and internet are included
The bedrooms often come furnished with a wardrobe, chair, desk and mattress.
24-hour security and on-site support staff
Social events and activities are often organised (either by the provider or by other students)
Privacy with own kitchen and bathroom
Often there are recreational areas such as cinema rooms, gyms, table tennis, gaming, TV room, swimming pools, and BBQs.
Usually utilities are cheaper than a private apartment.
Can be more expensive than an independent share house
May not be as close to campus as institution provided accommodation
A warehouse is a converted commercial or industrial warehouse. There is usually a very large communal space / several spaces and make-shift separations to create individual rooms. Warehouses are infamous for throwing parties so they may be a great choice for the socialites out there.
Usually community vibes
Bohemian style decorations usually
Wide variety of different types of people usually live there (not just students)
Huge communal spaces
Usually there is more space for damage / spills for those who are more accident-prone / like to create art / have hobbies that require a large space
Often cheaper rents than sharehouses
Some sharehouses can have interesting elements (rock climbing walls, firemans poles, cinema rooms, hidden bookcase rooms etc.)
Usually make-shift in nature so can not be very secure for your valuables
Often the large spaces mean that it is not well insulated (will be cold in winter / hot in summer)
Be sure to find a warehouse that is legal. Many warehouses can be illegal which means that you would not have any tenancy rights and may not be up-to code
Notorious for parties, so keep this in mind if you do not want to live in a party house
Hard to find! Many residents stay long term when they find one of these so they usually only pop up by word of mouth. You have to know someone who knows someone!
At the end of the day though, the location can also play a huge role in your choice of accommodation. You may prefer a 1-bedroom apartment but if you choose a location that is close to the city or to the beach, you may be out-priced. Make sure you decide whether you would rather have the perfect style of accommodation or the perfect location before you move somewhere.
Is private or uni accommodation better?
Whether private accommodation or university accommodation is better for you will be very personalised to your own individual needs. In general, private accommodation is cheaper and offers more variety than university lodging. It also offers the opportunity to meet other people who are not students, and can often offer a bigger ratio of Australian nationals : international students if you would prefer to live amongst Australians to immerse yourself in the language and culture. Uni accommodation is best if you prefer to live on-campus, or close to campus, prefer to spend most of your time with other students with common hobbies, interests and commitments. Meals can be included in uni accommodation so if you don’t like to spend time cooking or buying groceries, it can be a better option for you. Uni accommodation often also includes utilities and internet so you have less unexpected bills that can pop up. Further, uni accommodation often has communal entertainment spaces including cinema rooms, pool tables, ping pong and BBQs. Private accommodation however offers much more variety so you are much more likely to find something that suits your exact needs; Do you like tall ceilings, vintage architecture or want a private backyard? Going private can probably offer you what you are looking for. University accommodation is also often more apartment-style in nature which can be a turn-off for some. Private accommodation also means that you may need to deal landlords (and they don’t always abide by the tenancy rules!)
How do students find accommodation in Australia?
Depending on the type of accommodation students are looking for, there are different ways to search for available properties. Use the table below to help you find the resources you are looking for:
Type of Accomodation
Where to find them
1 bedroom appartment
Private Student Accomodation
Pet sitting / House Sitting
How much does accommodation cost in Australia?
The cost of accommodation in Australia varies based on which type of accommodation you choose and in which location. The below figures are based on the average you can expect to pay in Sydney:
Type of Accomodation
Rent per week ($AUD)
Utilities per week ($AUD)
1 bedroom appartment
Private Student Accomodation
Pet sitting/House sitting