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Choosing your student accommodation: Residential college vs homestay vs rental property vs city living

30/10/2023 |
6 minutes

You’ve accepted your offer, packed your bags and are moving to Perth – but where will you live?

We spoke to four UWA students who gave us the lowdown on what it’s really like to live in different types of housing – from homestays with Aussie families, to student colleges and university-managed rental properties.

Homestay: Mega from Indonesia

Pros: Help with settling into a city and culture, full cultural immersion, all expenses included, opportunity to gain a ‘second family’

Cons: Less personal space, less opportunities to socialise with other students

Mega, who’s studying a Bachelor of Agribusiness, didn’t plan to live in a homestay – but with a tough rental market, it seemed like her best option.

Luckily, she loved it so much she extended her stay and has now been living with her host family (two parents with an 18-year-old and 13-year-old) for six months.

The homestay program helped my settlement in Perth.

“There's no better way to get to know a city and culture other than from its people. The daughter is also a UWA student and over time I've grown fond of and comfortable with my host family. I was struggling with a unit last semester and they volunteered to guide me through it. Gradually, a bond is formed, another place to call home.” For Mega, the homestay also made sense financially: the program included meals, utilities and furniture.

Of course, there are a few things to be aware of: location is critical (check you’ll have convenient access to public transport), and you may not have lots of kitchen space to prepare meals.

The social opportunities are also different.

“In a homestay, you won’t have as many opportunities to meet other international students,” Mega said.

“However, the daughter introduced me to her friends and so I was able to encounter other students from different universities – which I found exhilarating.

“My favourite things about my homestay are definitely my host family and neighbourhood.”


Residential college: Kim from Singapore

Pros: Living close to friends, lots of support services, social events, meals included

Cons: Less personal space

Kim standing in quad of University Hall

Kim, who’s studying a Master of Biological Science, lives at University Hall on College Row – which means she can walk from her room to her class in less than ten minutes!

This year, she’s been staying in a studio flat with her own kitchen and bathroom.

“I’m a mature student and wanted more independence in my living situation while also being able to access events, and to live in an environment where I could meet new people,” she explained.

“University Hall stood out to me due to its large international population; I wanted to meet new people from as many places as possible.”

Because of this, she became University Hall’s Residential Adviser for Diversity and Inclusion. As well as ensuring a safe and inclusive living environment for all residents, her committee has organised micro-volunteering, roller skating, charity fundraisers and even murder mystery nights!

While living on College Row is perfect for Kim – she particularly loves the support services and living close to friends – it’s important to remember you’ll always have plenty of neighbours. So if you’re a big introvert, or you won’t have time for events, make sure you know what you’re signing yourself up for.
All of UWA's accommodation options are tailored experiences that cater to different wants and needs; so think about what kind of living environment you have now, and what you would like to have in the future.

University-owned rental property: Sabar from Indonesia

Pros: Close to campus, less expensive than a private rental, lots of privacy, amenities (close to a shopping centre and school)

Cons: None (according to Sabar!)

Sabar, who’s studying a PhD in Chemical Engineering, has been living in his current house in Crawley Village for nearly four years.

The house is big enough to fit Sabar plus his wife and his four children, is just 200m from his lab, and even has a beautiful backyard.

According to Sabar, it’s like living in a private rental – except better!

“I chose this house because of the location, easiness of the paperwork, and the lower rental fees,” he said.

“Our family feel safe and secure because of regular security patrols, the Crawley Village team is very responsive to any maintenance requests, and the rental fees are very affordable compared to the private market.

“I always advise new international students to choose Crawley Village as a place to live.”


City-based student housing: Junaid from India

Pros: Close to the central business district, cafes, restaurants and bars; make new friends from around the world; facilities such as a swimming pool, cinema and gym

Cons: Often more expensive than other types of accommodation

Junaid standing in front city skyline with thumbs up

Junaid, who’s pursuing a Master of Marketing, has called Yugo Perth City home for almost a year.

It’s pretty obvious what attracted him to Yugo Perth City: it has some impressive facilities (we’re talking seriously impressive: a swimming pool, roof-top cinema, study lounge, gym – the list goes on…) – and it’s also just five minutes’ walk from the central business district, cafes, restaurants and bars (so you’ll save money on transport).

Inside Yugo Perth City, Junaid has his own bedroom in a six-bedroom apartment. The flatmates share a kitchen, living space and three bathrooms. 

"Living with five others is a mix of experiences,” Junaid said. “We get to socialise, study and go to events together, but there are challenges too. However, I now consider my housemates to be good friends.

“Some of my favourite things about Yugo Perth City are the wellbeing events. Yugo has created events around their ‘Live Your Best Life’ program and the three pillars: YugoEco, YuPro and YuGro, which focus on personal development, wellbeing and personal growth.

“We also have game nights and pancake evenings, and events for national and international days every month.”

If you choose to live in student housing, Junaid warns you’ll need to learn to compromise – but the rewards will be worth it.

“While you can have a very good experience living in a shared apartment with other people, it can be challenging. At times, you will need to adjust, compromise and be patient with your flatmates, but that is normal and sets you up for success in the future,” he said.

I would recommend student accommodation in a heartbeat. Not only do you get a chance to make lifelong friends, but you also get to be a part of an extraordinary living experience where students are put first.

“You can create new opportunities professionally by living with other students who have the same drive as you, and get access to opportunities like internships and paid opportunities.”

Need help with your accommodation options? Check out UWA’s Accommodation Concierge service for the latest room listings and personalised assistance.

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