Indian Student's Guide for Finding Accommodation in the USA

    Updated on: 27 Sep 2023

    Accommodation Journey for International Students in the USA

    Written By Vivek Reddy, MS in CS Student at Indiana University Bloomington

    Embarking on an international journey to pursue higher education comes with a host of exciting opportunities and challenges, one of which is finding the perfect place to call home during your studies. Your accommodation journey plays a crucial role in shaping your overall experience as an international student in the USA. In this blog, we'll delve into key aspects of this journey, offering insights and tips to help you navigate the process smoothly. 

    Types of Accommodation for International Students 

    The United States is renowned for its diverse range of accommodation options catering to the needs of international students. Understanding these options can help you make an informed decision: 

    • On-Campus Dormitories: Many universities in US offer on-campus housing, which can be a great way to immerse yourself in the college experience. Dormitories provide easy access to classes, campus resources, and a built-in community of fellow students. 
    • Off-Campus Apartments: Opting for an off-campus apartment gives you more independence and often a broader range of amenities. However, the location becomes a critical factor. Proximity to your university, public transportation, and essential services is crucial. 
    • Homestays: Living with a local family can provide a unique cultural experience. This option not only helps you adapt to the local lifestyle but also provides opportunities to practice your English language skills in a real-world context.
    • Shared Housing: Sharing an apartment or house with roommates is a popular choice among international students. It's often more cost-effective as expenses are divided. Additionally, shared housing fosters a sense of companionship and shared responsibilities. 

    In fact, I currently reside in a shared off-campus apartment that boasts convenient access to robust public transportation and is situated near both the university and a Walmart store. 

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    Utilizing Online Tools for Accommodation Search 

    With the advent of technology, finding suitable accommodation has become significantly easier. Online platforms offer a wealth of options and resources: 

    • Apartments Websites: Websites like, Zillow, and Trulia are go-to platforms for apartment hunters. They provide filters to narrow down your search based on location, price, and amenities. 
    • University Housing Portals: Most universities have dedicated housing portals that list available on-campus and nearby off-campus options. These portals often include reviews from previous students, giving you insights into the living experience. 
    • Social Media and ForumsFFV: Social media groups and online forums specific to international students can provide valuable insights. Current students often share their housing experiences and recommendations, offering a firsthand perspective. 


    FVThroughout my pursuit of accommodation, I extensively employed college groups on to establish connections with incoming students and discover appealing housing solutions. 

    Shared vs. Non-Shared Accommodation in US

    The decision between shared and non-shared accommodation depends on your preferences and priorities: 

    • Shared Housing: Opting for shared accommodation can be an enriching experience, exposing you to diverse cultures and perspectives. It's usually more affordable, and splitting costs with roommates can help you save money. 
    • Non-Shared Housing: Non-shared accommodation offers more privacy and the opportunity to create a personalized living space. However, it often comes with a higher price tag. 


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    Average Rent and Payment Options in US

    Understanding the average rental costs and payment options can help you budget effectively: 

    • Rental Costs: Rental prices can vary significantly based on factors like the city's cost of living, proximity to the university, and the type of accommodation. On average, monthly rents can range from $500 to $2,500.

    In my situation, our unfurnished apartment with two bedrooms and one bathroom incurs a monthly expense of approximately $1160, not accounting for utilities. 

    • Payment Options: Payment methods typically include monthly rent and a security deposit. The security deposit is a one-time payment that serves as a guarantee against damages. It's refundable at the end of your lease, provided there are no damages. 


    Tips for Finding Affordable and High-Quality Accommodation Navigating the accommodation market effectively requires a strategic approach: ● Start Early: Begin your search at least 3 to 6 months before your intended move-in date. This allows time for research, property visits, and negotiation. ● Research Neighborhoods: Consider factors such as safety, transportation options, grocery stores, and proximity to your university. A convenient location can enhance your overall experience. 

    • Budget Wisely: Factor in all costs, including rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, and personal expenses. This will give you a realistic view of your financial commitments. 
    • Visit Properties: Whenever possible, visit properties in person or take virtual tours. This helps you gauge the condition of the accommodation and whether it meets your expectations. 
    • Beware of Scams: Unfortunately, rental scams exist. Be cautious of deals that seem too good to be true, and never wire money or provide personal information without verifying the legitimacy of the listing. 
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    The Timing of Your Accommodation Search 

    Starting your search early offers several advantages: 

    • Ample Options: Early starters have a wider range of accommodation options to choose from. The best deals and locations often get snapped up quickly. 
    • Negotiation: Property owners may be more flexible with terms and pricing for units available well in advance. This gives you room to negotiate and secure a better deal. 


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    Early Start for Better Deals 

    Indeed, beginning your accommodation search early can yield better outcomes: 

    • Lower Prices: Landlords might be more inclined to offer lower rental rates to secure tenants well ahead of time. This is especially true in competitive housing markets. 
    • More Choices: An early start means you have a broader selection of housing options, increasing the likelihood of finding one that aligns with your preferences. 

    Recommendations for Prospective International Students

    Based on my experience, here's a recommended timeline for starting your accommodation search: 

    • 3 to 6 Months Prior: Begin exploring housing options and researching neighborhoods. 
    • 2 to 4 Months Prior: Start contacting landlords or property managers and schedule property visits or virtual tours. 
    • 1 to 2 Months Prior: Finalize your accommodation choice, review lease agreements carefully, and ensure you understand all terms. a

    By initiating your accommodation search well in advance, you provide yourself with the opportunity to make informed decisions, secure a comfortable living space, and start your international student journey with confidence.

    First published date: 31 Aug 2023

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Sahil Sahil khan

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GyanDhan is India's first education financing marketplace.

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