Tips and Tricks on Finding Accommodation as an International Student in the US

Tips and Tricks on Finding Accommodation as an International Student in the US

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GyanDhan brings Shoib Ahmad's journey to get the ideal student accommodation in the US. Uncover expert tips on networking, navigating challenges, and making informed choices.

Ismail Khan
Updated on:  21 Oct 2023  | Reviewed By: 
| 751 | 5  min read
Finding US Student Accommodation Insights by Student

Excerpt by Shoaib Ahmad, Golden Gate University, MS in Project Management

Congratulations, fellow international students! Your journey to study in the US has begun, and one of the most crucial tasks you'll encounter is finding suitable accommodation besides all other things. It can be a bit overwhelming, but fear not! In this article, I'll share my own experiences and the strategies I employed to secure a place to call home while studying in the US.


The Golden Moment - "Your Visa is Approved"

Right after the visa consulate told me these words, I felt ecstatic and was on cloud nine. After my celebration, I immediately started planning my journey to the US, thinking the road ahead will be a piece of cake. Little did I know that finding accommodation in an unfamiliar country would be a different ball game altogether.

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Exploring Accommodation Options through Facebook Groups

The most popular option that was suggested to me was to find accommodation on Facebook Groups. I joined several housing groups and posted my requirements, while also checking out the flats listed by others. But be cautious, my friends! I learned that scams related to accommodation are prevalent on Facebook. So, before committing to anything, seek advice from fellow students who have already settled in the US.

I found a similar guy from another college who was looking for accommodation, so I networked with him, spoke over the phone, and kept in touch with him.

Must read: How to Choose Between Off-campus and On-campus Accommodation?


The Power of Networking: Connecting with Alumni and Fellow Students

Since pursuing a hybrid program, I already made good friends who were traveling with me to the US. So, we were searching together for a flat. Then we came across amber-student - student housing community that offers student-friendly hostels near our college area. It also sends over the agreement which will be useful to show during the immigration questioning. We immediately booked the housing with them and signed the contract digitally.

Realizing the power of networking, I reached out to alumni from my college and connected with them on platforms like LinkedIn. Additionally, I joined my college's telegram group hoping to find helpful leads. However, despite my efforts, I didn't find the assistance I was hoping for. Hence, went ahead with amber-student.

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Once I landed in the US, I spent a few initial days with a relative. Then, I visited AmberStudent's accommodations, which looked great, but I didn’t like the San Francisco area as there were fewer Indian communities around compared to other areas such as Fremont in California.

Also was actively looking in the Couchsurfing app – this app is exclusively used while traveling and it is based on networking and you can stay here for free for a few days. Although, I wouldn’t suggest this app if you are totally unfamiliar with it. Since I had used it in the past while traveling, I kept an eye out for it if there was something good available for short-duration stays.

Adapting to the situation, I denied staying with an amber-student and decided to stay in Airbnb for the next 10 days and search for accommodation during that period. I only took that decision because I met a lot of my batchmates during orientation day who were also looking for a flat. I stayed in touch with them. We were looking for Flats in Apartments.com, Indian gated communities, and sulekhausa. I got to know that one should have an SSN to be able to find a flat for lease in the US. And you get SSN which is social security number, only when you start working. Without an SSN, everyone denies your request. But luckily, found a fellow Indian, who was subleasing his flat and found his contact in Sulekhausa. Although he had leased us 250$ more than the original cost of the flat per month, there was no better option.


Finding Home

Finally, shifted into a 1BHK flat with South Indian friends, in the Indian community. Cost of living in US varies from person to person, general expenses that I bear are:

  • list items The cost of the flat is 2500 USD per month and 4 members stay in this 1 BHK.
  • list items Per head charges are, It costs around 600$ per head for accommodation.
  • list items Groceries for food are around 200 USD, metro transportation around 250 USD, and mobile and internet 100 USD.  
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Looking back, there were quite a few learnings from this journey. Looking for flats too late. One shall start the preparation 2 to 3 months early and, reach out to all friends and family members without hesitation as you never know who could help you with and also you get better deals when you start your journey well ahead.

Dear fellow international students, finding accommodation in the US can be challenging, but with determination and resourcefulness, you can succeed. Whether you explore Facebook groups, connect with alumni, or consider options like Amber-Student, remember to be cautious and prioritize proximity to your college or the area you are staying shall at least be closer to the metro station.

Embrace the adventure, and don't hesitate to reach out to your college mates for support. Your journey to find a place to call "home" in the US will be a tale of resilience and adaptability, making your study abroad experience more rewarding. Good luck!

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