On-Campus vs. Off-Campus Accommodation Abroad
Updated on Feb 23, 2016 - 2:24 p.m. IST by Manashjyoti

On-Campus vs. Off-Campus Accommodation Abroad
: One of the critical decisions that you have to make as part of your study abroad program is to decide on the kind of accommodation you want to stay in during your period of studyOn Campus Accommodation or Off Campus Accommodation, two of the most popular accommodation types. The reason why it is critical because being one of the most expensive items listed under living cost, a wrong decision can cost you thousands of dollars.

High cost of foreign degrees warrants that you spend judiciously…

Studying abroad is a costlier proposition than studying in your home country, with students frequently having to depend on loans or scholarships to finance their studies. It is a major reason why students look for cheap accommodation which is also hygienic and well-maintained.

A comparative chart shows how off campus and on campus accommodation stake up against one another


Off campus accommodation

On campus accommodation

Social life

While social life is limited, it is compensated by enhanced privacy

You get to enjoy a vibrant social life as you will be living amidst friends and also faculty


You will be on your own and responsible for your wellbeing, which in turn makes you independent 

The university will look after your wellbeing and most of your needs, which makes it easy to put all your energies into your studies

Accessibility to the university

You will have to spend time and money on transportation. As distance increases, so does travel time and expenses

You don’t have to spend even a cent on transportation, in most cases, while you enjoy easy access to classes, libraries, computer labs, cafeterias, etc. 


For the same facilities offered, off campus accommodation is on average cheaper, and you also have a range of accommodation options to choose from

While it may be costlier, though not always, the positive side there are less chances of a rip off happening, i.e., you are assured of a certain minimum facility and service for the money you pay.  

On campus and off campus accommodation: price differential

On campus accommodations have more or less a fixed budget, like if you are studying in Massey University in New Zealand, a single living unit costs around $154 per week. Also since rates are pretty much fixed there is no scope for bargaining. Elsewhere, if you have been selected for a particular university, say Oxford or Massey, on campus accommodation will have halls and units and you have to choose amongst these limited options. Universities tend to have a number of halls and units, but the resources and level of support across halls are similar.

On-campus accommodation prices for foreign students at Massey University (New Zealand)





Atawhai Single Units

13 five-bedroom units

Accommodation for 65 residents

$154 per week

Atawhai Family Units

9 two-bedroom units

Accommodation for 9 families

$210 per week 

Fergusson Hall

79 single rooms, 4 twin-share rooms

Accommodation for 87 residents


Colombo Hall



Accommodation for 66 residents

Dinner only $266 per week

Breakfast and Dinner $306 per week

Lunch and Dinner $332 per week

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner $372 per week

Off campus accommodation cost near Vancouver (Canada)


Average off-campus accommodation (per month)

Shared Accommodation/room


Studio Apartment


One-bedroom apartment


Two-bedroom apartment


Meanwhile, off campus accommodation gives you more options to choose from and also has a wider budget range. Irrespective of whether it is in the UK, the USA or Canada, you will find a host of off campus accommodation for students near universities, which can be in the form of hostel, apartment, house, flats and boarding. One important thing that you must remember when opting for off campus accommodation is the university will not take any responsibility if anything goes wrong with your accommodation. This subtle but key distinction between off campus and on campus accommodation is significant, especially when you are living all on your own on a foreign land; so tread carefully.

When you look at the above chart for off campus accommodation, you will see that depending on what type of accommodation you choose, the prices vary accordingly, like if you go for shared accommodation the expenses will be moderate compared to say, opting for one-bedroom and more so for two-bedroom apartment.  Also, the prices given in the chart is only indicative and only gives you an idea how much money you need to put aside for your off-campus accommodation. If you can afford to splurge, you can pay additional bucks and get all the luxury you need, as finding luxury apartments is not out of the menu. But if you feel you need to cut down on expenses and want to lead a simple life,you can find affordable off campus accommodation.

Pointers while selecting off campus accommodation

When you opt for off campus accommodation, do make a point to check these pointers.

  • Can you afford the accommodation?

  • Is there any bond amount that you have to pay? In some countries like New Zealand and Australia, landlords frequently demand that you pay a month or two’s rent in advance as security money.

  • Is the room furnished well enough, or you have to buy furniture and other stuff yourself? Sometimes it happens that the room may be cheap but fitting it with the necessary furniture and other essentials may inflate the cost beyond budget, so factor in this point as well.

  • Do you have to foot food and electricity bills separately or they are part of the overall rent?

  • Dig out any hidden costs, like installation or connection costs, be it power, gas or phone?

  • How far is the accommodation from the university and whether there is good and timely connectivity? 

If you manage to find a decent and cheap accommodation after analyzing all the above points, you will be able to get rid of many common irritants faced by international students. As for students who find it difficult even to pay for accommodation that falls at the lower end of the spectrum, they must start looking for work opportunities in their country of study. Depending on the rigorousness of your study program, you might opt for full time or part-time jobs, which will help you lessen the financial burden.  

Dare to look beyond on campus and off campus accommodation?

Even though on campus and off campus accommodations host the majority of international students, there are some students who want something else and actively pursue it: homestay accommodation for students. So what is it and, importantly, why are students exactly falling for it?

Homestay accommodation for students makes you forget that you are away from your family!

Staying away from the family always hits us hard and some feel the pain more acutely than others. For them and others who would like to explore a more family-oriented stay during their study abroad program, homestays are just tailor made. Homestay accommodation for students is different from the ones we discussed earlier in that it is more of a personal arrangement rather than a commercial one. In this type of arrangement, you stay with a family with whom you get to share your meals and even dinner on days when you don’t have classes. In fact, they act as your extended family, helping you at every stage just like a family would in a foreign country. Then there are students who go for homestay accommodation because it helps them learn about the local culture and country better, in addition to honing their English comprehension and speaking skills, say in a country like the USA. So, don’t adopt a rigid approach, and be flexible.

Also read:

Accommodation in New Zealand for foreign Students

Accommodation in Canada for Foreign Students

Best Student Cities in USA

Best student cities in Australia


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