What kind of student accommodation you choose can have a significant impact on your overall experience of studying abroad. That's why we believe it should be chosen responsibly. In this big guide, we'll answer the following questions: what types of student accommodation there are, what does the standard procedure for getting a place in student halls abroad look like, and what do they look like in different countries? Plus, we've prepared a comparative analysis of student residences in five different countries. 

Also read our comprehensive guide to the cost of studying abroad, where you can learn about both the countries with the most expensive education and those where you can get it practically free. 

A brief look at the state of the student housing market

The student housing market is becoming a global asset: the amount of cross-border capital flowing into student real estate markets around the world has increased by 40% over the past three years. However, despite the growth in global capital, the private sector and higher education institutions (HEIs) are still unable to offer enough housing to meet student demand.

Key trends in the student housing market include:

  • Demographics and a growing middle class are driving the demand for student housing. Many campuses have been unprepared for this influx of willing applicants.
  • The influx of international students further increases the demand for student housing.
  • Students are looking for affordable housing with functional amenities.
  • More graduate students are looking for on-campus housing.
  • Universities are increasingly converting student housing to single occupancy.

The leading global student housing markets by investment are the US (57%), UK (27%), Germany (4%), Netherlands (3%), and France (2%).

What are student residences called in different countries? 

Below are some common terms used in English to describe student housing:

  • In the United States, dormitories are usually called “dormitories” or abbreviated “dorms”. Sometimes they are also called “residence halls”.
  • In the UK, they are often called “halls of residence” or simply “halls.”
  • In Germany, dormitories are called “Studentenwohnheim”.
  • In Australia, terms such as “student accommodation,” “college accommodation,” or “residential colleges” are in use. 
  • In New Zealand, they are known as “halls of residence” or simply “halls.”
  • In India, the terms “PG housing” or “student hostels” are used.
  • In France, such hostels are called “résidences universitaires” or “cités universitaires.”
  • In Japan, they are known as “gakusei ryokan,” or “university dormitories.”
  • In China, dormitories are generally called “学生宿舍” (xuéshēng sùshè).
  • In Spain, they are called “residencias universitarias”.

Types of student residences abroad and their features

Here we will look at the different types of student residences abroad to help you understand your options and choose the one that suits your needs.

University Residence Halls 

These halls of residence are usually located on or near the university campus. This provides easy access to lecture halls and other campus facilities.


  • Convenient: living within walking distance of academic facilities and the library can be a significant advantage.
  • Budget-friendly: the cost of renting a dorm room usually includes utilities, eliminating the need to worry about separate bills.
  • Vibrant: dorms often have an active social life, making it easy to meet new people and make friends.


  • Having to adhere to set rules, such as no overnight guests and no noise after a certain hour.
  • Be prepared for disagreements that may result from sharing facilities such as bathrooms and kitchens.

Private Student Housing 

Private student housing developments are becoming increasingly popular. They offer modern amenities such as fully furnished apartments, fitness rooms, and entertainment centers. Private apartment complexes may be a bit more expensive than university dorms, but they provide added comfort and convenience.


  • Privacy: having your own space can be a significant advantage if you prefer privacy or need a quiet place to study.
  • Freedom: Living in a private apartment means you can set your own rules.


  • Cost: renting a private apartment can be more expensive than living in a dorm, especially when utilities and transportation costs are factored in.
  • Isolation: Living off campus can make it difficult to participate in campus life and get to know other students.

Shared Apartments

Shared apartments are chosen by students who want the independence of off-campus living but want to share expenses. In this case, each student has his or her own bedroom but shares common areas such as the kitchen and living room with other students.


  • Savings: sharing an apartment can be more affordable than living alone.
  • Social life: living with other students provides an opportunity for social interaction.


  • Sharing responsibilities: you'll have to coordinate chores and bill-paying with your roommates.
  • Possible conflicts: Disagreements can arise when you live together.

Living with a host family (Homestays)

Homestays can be arranged through universities or private agencies.


  • Cultural immersion: living with a local family allows you to experience the local culture and way of life.
  • Language practice: homestays can provide daily language practice if you are studying in the country where you are learning the language.


  • More responsibilities: living with a host family means you will have to abide by their rules and routines.
  • Limited privacy and less personal space.

Specialized Housing

Some universities and institutions offer specialized housing for specific groups of students, such as honors students, athletes, or students pursuing specific majors. These options meet specific needs and interests.

The standard process for obtaining a place in student housing abroad

Prepare in advance

Begin your housing search well in advance. It is recommended that you begin as soon as you receive your acceptance letter from the institution.

1. Contact the university housing office

Many institutions offer on-campus housing, and they often prioritize international students.

2. Apply

Complete the required housing application forms. Be aware of application deadlines; they may vary from university to university.

3. Prepare documents

Prepare the necessary documents, including the enrollment certificate, passport, and visa documents, as they may be required during the application process.

4. Understand fees and deposits

Understand the payment structure for the accommodation, including rent, security deposit, and any associated fees. Be prepared to put down a deposit to secure the accommodations.

5. State your preferences

State your room preferences and any special requirements you may have.

6. Receive confirmation of your accommodation

Once your application has been accepted, you will receive a confirmation of accommodation. Carefully review the terms and conditions spelled out there.

7. Review the information before settling in

Before you arrive, read the information provided by the university or housing provider. This may include information about check-in times, registration procedures, and what you need to bring with you.

8. Arrive and check-in

Arrive on the assigned day and follow the check-in instructions. Be punctual, as there may be a set time for your check-in.

Comparative analysis of student hostels in five different countries

We have taken five countries—the United States, Germany, Poland, Italy, and Japan—and benchmarked the hostels there on key points.

United States of America

In the US, there are about 8 million students in need of housing near campus. With an estimated 20.5 million students expected to be enrolled in the US by 2027 and 175 leading US universities only able to house 21.5% of their students in dormitories, there is a significant opportunity for investors.

In terms of the number of beds among student housing owners in the U.S., American Campus Communities (113,387), Harrison Street (61,478), The Scion Group (55,416), Greystar (44,600), The Collier Companies (26,590), and The Preiss Company (23,384) lead the way.

Cost of living

The average cost of living for students ranges from $1504 to $1850 per month. This includes living expenses, food, transportation, textbooks, weather-appropriate clothing, and entertainment. The average price for a bed in a student dormitory in the United States is about $860 per month.

How much it costs to rent student housing by U.S. state

The process of getting a place

Most U.S. universities have a process for applying for on-campus housing that is submitted at about the same time as the application for tuition. In this application, students must indicate their preferences for the room they want to live in.
Each housing unit has its own name, profile, and specific characteristics. For example, one building may have a common study room on each floor, while another may have only a reception area and one reading room.

Submission Deadlines

The deadline for student housing applications varies by university. For example, the University of California, Berkeley, has set a May 2 deadline for first-year students for the 2023–2024 academic year. Check the specific deadlines for each university on their official websites.


Approximately 40% of all international students in Germany live in student residences.

Cost of accommodation

Renting a room in student dorms in Germany usually costs around €250 per month, but the cost also depends on location, size, and other amenities. In the most expensive cities, such as Frankfurt and Munich, students will have to pay around €700 for a room in a shared house or apartment and €400–500 for student housing.

The process of getting a place

Students who wish to get a place in German dormitories should apply as soon as they receive their acceptance letter from a German university. To obtain a place in student housing, students must contact their local student services office. Students must fill out an online form on the website of the student union of the particular city. They will then receive an email with the applicant's details and the matriculation deadline.

Submission deadline

The deadlines for applying for student housing in Germany vary. For example, at the University of Freiburg, the application form must be submitted to the International Office between April 15 and June 15 for the winter semester and between September 30 and November 30 for the summer semester.  


Student residences in Poland come in public and private; in fact, your accommodation depends on which one you enroll in. For example, the University of Warsaw offers over 2,500 places in six dormitories located in different parts of the city.

Cost of accommodation

The cost of living in a state dormitory is around €80–€100 per month for a shared room, while in private dormitories it will be €25 more expensive.

Accommodation for international students in Poland can cost between €350 and €550 per month. In larger cities, such as Kraków or Warsaw, rents range from €500 to €850 per month.

The process of getting a place

Each university sets its own rules, so you should contact the university you are applying to for more information.

Application deadlines  

The application deadlines for studying in Poland vary greatly depending on the program of study and the university. For example, at the University of Łódź, the application deadline is usually the end of July.


More than 30,000 international students choose Italy as their study-abroad destination each year. The big plus of enrolling in an Italian university is that it is still the easiest and most affordable way to relocate and then obtain a residence permit in that country.

The process of getting a place

If you are looking for a room in a university dormitory, each year universities publish a special call for applications with all available places and how to apply.

Application Deadlines

Housing application deadlines can vary from semester to semester. For example, Arcadia Abroad's international study program has established the following housing application deadlines: fall—May 15, spring—November 1, summer—April 15, and all year—May 15.

Please note that these deadlines may vary depending on the specific university and program, so you should always contact the respective institutions for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Cost of accommodation

Student accommodation in Italy is more expensive in larger cities and can cost €300–€600 per month. The cost depends on the location relative to the city center and the distance from campus.


Although there are student dormitories run by local governments and universities, about 79% of international students live in private homes or apartments. The exact number of dormitories is not listed in the search results.

Many universities in Japan offer students the opportunity to live in dormitories. For example, the University of Tokyo has 20 international dormitories.

Cost of living

The national average rent for students is 38,000 yen (€240). In Tokyo, prices are higher, averaging around ¥60,000 (€380), including utilities. Average food costs per month are estimated at around ¥25,000 (€160).

The process of getting a place

Students usually apply through their university's housing office. Some universities also offer international students assistance in finding accommodations.

Application deadlines

This depends on the particular institution. Some universities set specific move-in dates and times for students living on campus.
Once you have moved into your chosen student accommodation, you must register with your local civic administration center within 14 days.


The cost of living per month











Where can one look for student dorms in different countries?

You can get a more in-depth look and choose a hostel in different countries on specialized websites. Here are eight popular options:

UniAcco is a global leader in providing premium student housing in over 10 countries.

Nestpick is a platform offering hundreds of thousands of housing options that can be viewed on one website.

Uniplaces is an online marketplace for students to book accommodation from verified landlords. 

Spotahome is an online platform for mid-to-long-term housing bookings, allowing renters to view and book rooms via virtual tours.

University Living: A platform based on artificial intelligence It helps students traveling abroad find accommodation near their university.

What do dormitories look like in different countries? Photo 


dormitory in the Netherlands


dormitory in Moldova


dormitory in Poland


dormitory in Germany


dormitory in India


dormitory in italy

Hong Kong

dormitory in Hong Kong


dormitory in Philippines

Photo source: metro.co.uk

Cover photo: Courtesy of Henny Boogert