Accommodation in USA for foreign students
Updated on May 12, 2016 - 12:02 p.m. IST by Manashjyoti

Accommodation in US for foreign students
: With more than 150 universities in the QS World University Rankings, the USA is way ahead of its competitors, making it an automatic choice for students. Universities like MIT, Harvard and Stanford are the standard-bearers of US education and offer industry-leading courses in virtually all the major disciplines like management, engineering, mathematics and computer science. Also, if you would care to look beyond the rankings, universities in the US are known for their flexibility and the incorporation of courses that not just buck the trend, but make them global movers and shakers.

However, finding the right choice of accommodation is a big task.  Therefore, it makes great sense to invest some time to find the right accommodation. Here we will take you through different concepts and details related to accommodation in the USA for international students.


Accommodation in USA for international students: Factors to consider

While calculating cost of living in the US, it is important to consider the city where the university is located. For example, the Boston/Cambridge area, where Harvard is located, has a price index of 208 (according to Expatistan), and is costly; but it pales in comparison to New York City, home to Columbia University, which has a price index of 254, among the highest in the US. If you are looking for cheaper options, Kansas City is a good bet as it has a lowly price index of 141. Now higher the price index, it is very likely the cost of accommodation would also be higher.

Housing prices and price index in major US cities (Source Expatistan)


University in the city

Price Index

Housing Prices

New York City

Columbia University


$1,795 -$3,764


Harvard University


$1,522- $2,732

Kansas City

University of Missouri-Kansas City


$565- $1,478

Students looking for the right accommodation in US have the dual option of on-campus accommodation and off-campus accommodation. While each has its pros and cons, the stakes are slightly in favor of on-campus accommodation.

On-campus accommodation in US for foreign students:  Many students prefer living at on-campus accommodations because on its many inherent advantages:

  1. It’s suited for social bonding — On-campus residences give you enhanced sense of community and elevate your overall university experience.

  2. It’s convenient—living on campus, you are just a heartbeat away from resources like university library and gym area

  3. It’s economical—why buy furniture and kitchen utilities when you get them for free! Also, you save on commuting costs.

According to information on Stanford website, students living off-campus end up spending on average 10-35% more on living allowances than those staying on-campus.

While every university has its own specific on-campus housing allocations, like MIT offers graduates a choice between five residence halls for single students and two apartment buildings for students with families, and fee rates, they are indicative of what to expect when you are on the lookout to find the right accommodation in US.

Graduate Residences for Singles at MIT


Building Type

Room Types

Monthly Rent 2016-2017

Ashdown House


3-bedroom suite               


3-bedroom apt


2-bedroom apt


Graduate Residences for families at MIT


Building Type

Room Types

Monthly Rent 2016-2017

Eastgate Apartments


1-bedroom corner apt        


1-bedroom center apt        


2-bedroom apt


At Columbia University, students are put up at dormitory suite style housing and shared apartments, in addition to studio and one bedroom units, which are normally reserved for couples and families. For especially large families, with two or more children, the university has a few larger units as well.

Here is a sample housing rate at Columbia University, for different accommodation types.

Accommodation Type



Average Rent (2015 - 2016 Monthly Rates)

Apartment Shares


$911 - $1,537


Dormitory-Style Suite Room Accommodations


Furnished Single

$751 - $1,077


Furnished Double

 $700 - $1,025


Studios/Efficiency Units


$1,191- $2,045 


One Bedroom Units


$1,411- $2,262


Two Bedroom/Family Units


 $1,512 - $3,121


In case of dormitory-style accommodations, they are reserved for single students only. Meanwhile, most universities in the US have also options for families and students who have children. But as can be seen from the price charts, they come at a higher price tag than those meant for single students. Some of the basic facilities enjoyed by on-campus students include, more or less, the following items:

  • TV lounges

  • Study lounges

  • Laundry facilities

  • Kitchen

  • Wireless internet access in a communal area

  • Storage areas

Off-campus accommodation in US for international students:

If a student can’t find on-campus accommodation, he can go for off-campus accommodation. Many universities in the USA, including Stanford, extend off-campus hosing at subsidized rates for international students. In the case of Stanford, the Single Graduate Monthly rate for all accommodation types (Arastradero West, Boardwalk & Park Place Apartments and Carmel the Village) is $1,083. For couples, the rate is $1,760/month per apartment.

Fast facts about off-campus accommodation at Stanford University

Stanford Off-campus Subsidized Housing Types

Single Graduate Monthly Rate

Couples without Children Monthly Rate

Contract length (non-renewable)

Pet Policy

Distance from university

Sand Hill Place Apartments

$1,083/month per student

$1,760/month per apartment

Full-year contract


2.4 miles

Seven Oaks Apartments

$1,083/month per student

$1,760/month per apartment

Full-year contract


2.1 miles

Sharon Green Apartment Homes

$1,083/month per student

$1,760/month per apartment

Full-year contract


2.0 miles

Sharon Grove Apartment Homes

$1,083/month per student

$1,760/month per apartment

Full-year contract


2.3 miles

Some of the highlights of off-campus accommodation include:

  • Most follow the Quite Hours policy which normally falls between 10:00 PM - 8:00 AM. During semesters and other exams, the quite hours may be extended.

  • While some units have on-site laundry facility, others have washer/dryer in their units.

  • Students have the option of gender-neutral housing, so if you have a friend from India who is of the opposite sex, you can share nearby accommodation in the same building and stay connected

  • Before you are allotted off-campus accommodation in US, you most likely have to sign lease agreements, either individual or group. While there is no fixed lease period, the standard lease duration is 12 months.

While amenities may differ from unit to unit and be based on the accommodation type and also the location, some basic amenities remain the same:

  • Kitchen appliances like Stove/Oven, Dishwasher, Microwave, Refrigerator

  • Furnishings like desk, bookcase, bed, and even couches

Financial guarantee for renting

If you are renting in places like New York City, you may need to have an annual income of 40 to 50 times the monthly rent. However, though it may look daunting at the outset, you are allowed to explore income from other sources, like 1) roommates or 2) a guarantor. A parent, relative or friend is an eligible candidate for the role of a guarantor but will have the onus of paying the landlord in the event you default any payments under the lease.

Leave your pets at home!

If you own pets, better leave them in the loving care of your parents or relatives back home, when you arrive at your on-campus accommodation in USA or for that matter off-campus accommodation in USA. Because, pets are almost universally banned at university campuses and at many off-campus accommodations in USA, and you would have a difficult time finding one that allows pets; at most you may come across off-campus accommodation that makes an exception and allows one, but then they come with riders attached: restriction on weight of the pet, breed and also temperament.

Also read:

On-Campus vs. Off-Campus Accommodation Abroad

Accommodation in New Zealand for foreign Students

Accommodation in Canada for Foreign Students


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