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When moving to a new city such as London, there’s a lot to organise including finding a new home. Studying in a big city is usually expensive, and the majority of people can’t afford a place of their own – but there are plenty of other viable options. Aside from student housing, which can be difficult to reserve unless applying twelve months in advance, international students and workers can choose from a room in a shared house or flat, or homestay accommodation.

Homestay or House Share

It’s important to understand the main differences between these accommodation options before deciding which one to book. The prices of housing or a place to stay will differ depending on location, but there are other factors to consider too. Read on to find out which kind of living arrangement is best for you.

Arranging from abroad

If you don’t know anyone in your new city who you could stay with for a few days when you first arrive, then you’ll find it easier to have a room set up straight away. Homestays can be booked in advance from abroad, with HFS London’s Find your Feet option the ideal choice. You can search for available rooms for rent while out of the country, but securing one can be tricky. You will also need to pay a security deposit to a landlord a letting agent, which isn’t necessary for booking a homestay.

Length of tenancy

One of the downsides to a flat or house share is you’ll have to commit to a certain amount of time – usually it’s a minimum of six months. You’ll have to sign a contract and agree to pay the rent for this amount of time, so if you’re not sure if you will like the area or your course isn’t that long, a flat share might not be the right option. You can book a homestay for short and long stays.

Who you share with

Choosing a new home can be especially difficult when you don’t know who you will be living with. You want to feel comfortable and welcome, but you won’t be able to meet your new housemates beforehand to know if you get along. If you opt for a house share, you could be sharing with four or more tenants and this could have an effect on the communal areas too. If you’re a sociable person, this could be seen as an advantage as you’ll get to meet lots of new people. However if you prefer your own space or quiet nights in, then a homestay is probably more suitable. You’ll be sharing with fewer people in a homestay, and host families have volunteered to give overseas visitors a place to stay – so they will definitely be friendly and welcoming.


If you don’t fancy yourself as the next Gordon Ramsey then you’ll be glad to know that homestays can also provide catering options. There are different meal plans to choose from, or you can also choose self-catering and request access to the kitchen. In a home share, you’ll be responsible for all of your own meals and taking care of the communal kitchen.


Even if you secure a furnished room in a house share, you might need to invest in more furniture or home essentials. For example, a furnished room usually contains a bed and a wardrobe and nothing else – you might require a desk, drawers, a lamp, bedding. You might also need to buy kitchen utensils unless your new housemates are happy to share theirs. The pro of choosing a homestay is that it’s almost like a bed and breakfast; it is a home that you won’t have to alter to enjoy.

If you think a homestay is right for you, get in touch with our friendly team to find out about applying.

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