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4 accommodation options for international students

Trinity College Foundation Studies

Thu Sep 04 2014


THINKING of where to live as a student here in Melbourne? Trinity College Foundation Studies students Diane Dai and Carol Huang look into four different accommodation options available to you.


Often, students new to Australia will find it difficult to decide where to live. What’s the difference between a hostel and a homestay? Would it be better to live in a student apartment or a private rental property?

Student hostels

Students usually have their own bedroom but share a bathroom, kitchen and living spaces with other residents. Costs for electricity, gas and water are included in the student’s rent. Therefore the total cost is generally cheaper than living in a student apartment.

Services such as internet and phone connection may vary from hostel to hostel, so do ask about your options. In addition, if you’re not very confident about cooking for yourself initially, some hostels provide meals.

Particularly for students looking for accommodation near Trinity College Foundation Studies and the University of Melbourne, there are a number student hostels in Carlton itself.

One TCFS student we spoke to said living close to the college was very convenient, not to mention that communal kitchen are separate to bedrooms, which means you can reduce the likelihood of being assaulted by pungent food smells from someone else’s cooking. Toilets are also cleaned regularly, for those concerned about cleanliness.

Other points worth considering is the social nature of living in a student hostel. It’s a great way to get to know other students, especially if you’re new to Melbourne.

Price: AUD 170-260 (per student/week)

Student apartments

College Square, a student accommodation close to the University of Melbourne. Photo: Reinis Treidas via Flickr

College Square, a student accommodation close to the University of Melbourne. Photo: Reinis Treidas via Flickr

Apartments include a self-contained bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and sometimes also a living area. Student apartments are self-catered, and no meals are provided.

Apartments are generally leased under 12-month agreements and typically rent payments are due monthly. Sometimes, electricity and gas may incur additional costs.

Like student hostels, services such as internet and phone connection vary from student accommodation to student accommodation, so it’s something worth finding out before you commit.

Finally, most student apartments are usually equipped with facilities and amenities such as a gym, common area, and round-the-clock security – and is a good starting point for students new to Melbourne.

Some accommodations also organise events for its residents, and may be a great way to get involved in something outside of the classroom.

Price: AUD 170-350 (per student/week)


With homestays, students typically live in the private home of a government-approved family and has a private bedroom furnished with a wardrobe or cupboard, a desk and a single or double bed, and shares other facilities with their host family. Meals are generally included.

Water, gas, and electricity fees are usually included as well, but you may have to pay an additional fee for internet access.

TCFS students who currently live in homestays say that homestay houses are usually far from the city. It is likely that you may spend up to one-and-half-hours in travelling time. It is important to consider the cost of public transport if you choose to go with this option.

Other things to be mindful of are cultural differences between you and your host family. However, it is the perfect opportunity for students to immerse themselves in the local culture and improve their English language skills.

Lastly, it is highly important that you find a reliable homestay family. Often homestays are advertised on websites such as Gumtree, but they are not necessarily government-approved. If you need help with finding a homestay, we recommend turning to your university/college’s accommodation coordinator, who will be able to assist you.

Price: AUD 235-275 per week (depending on how many meals are covered)

Private rental apartments

Private rental

Private rental apartments are only open to students above 18 years of age, according to Australian law. Most of the time, the apartment is unfurnished and students will need to purchase furniture and kitchen equipment.

According to our survey, many students prefer to live in private rental apartments because of proximity to the city. Often, private apartments are centrally located, making day-to-day errands such as grocery shopping very convenient. Most apartments also come with great facilities such as tennis courts, function rooms and barbecue areas.

The downside is private rental apartments can also cost quite a fair bit. This cost can be lowered if you choose to share an apartment with several people.

Eager to rent your own apartment? Check out or Domain for some great options.

Price: Varies