For many people in London with spare rooms and extra space, becoming a host family for foreign students is a safe and fun way to make a little bit of extra income. As a host family for a foreign student, your role is to provide a warm welcome, accommodation and (usually) meals for your guest – ensuring they have a lovely stay in the city, and helping them improve their language skills, and experience London life and culture.
It’s a great experience for both parties involved, but for you – the host – here is why it’s such a special opportunity:
- You get to welcome someone into your home
- You can make lasting friendships
- You can teach someone about London
- You can learn about another culture
- You can be someone’s ‘foreign family’
- You can earn extra money from the rent
At HFS London we’ve specialised in placing students with host families in London for many years. It’s what we do and we’re passionate about getting it right.
Who can be a host family for foreign students?
A ‘Host family’ doesn’t necessarily mean a ‘traditional family’. We have all kinds of households working with us as host families, including single parents, couples, couples with children, and empty nesters. The main thing we look for is the shared interest in hosting students and providing them with a memorable and enjoyable stay in the city. You’ll need to show a willingness to make our students feel right at home, and be excited about welcoming them.
Our host families are more than just ‘landlords’ – they act as a second family and a ‘home away from home’ to our students. It’s important to us that our host families are willing to provide and share the support, advice and local knowledge they have, as it’s so important when making sure our students feel comfortable and confident in their new city. We hope you’ll become friends with your student, as many of our students and host families do end up keeping in touch after their visit.
Finally, on a practical level, one thing we do need to ensure, is that you have a spare room for our students to stay in – but we can be flexible on location, and we’re always looking for new hosts in and around London, zones 1-4. Note, however, that not all areas in zones 1 to 4 are in demand. If you want to find out if you are in our catchment, just give us a quick call or drop us an email.
How can I start the process?
If you meet the criteria above, and you think you’d love to become a host family, then the first step is to fill out our online application form here. We’ll require basic details from you such as your name, address, email, etc – and once we receive the form we’ll be in touch.
If your application is what we’re looking for and you’re in one of our catchment areas, our team will be in touch to arrange an inspector to come and visit your home. Our inspectors are friendly and will just need to do some checks that the home is suitable for a student. They will take some photos during their visit too – so we can make a lovely profile to send to students looking for somewhere to stay. You can discuss during this visit the different kinds of catering options, and also the flexibility you can offer.
Once your inspection is over, if your property is approved, then we’ll send you a few extra forms to fill out. Once that’s done – you’re all set!
You’ll begin receiving enquiries from our team about students looking to pair up with you for their stay in London. You can then accept and decline the enquiries. We’ve worked hard at HFS London to make the process as simple as possible, so you can enjoy being a host family and not worry about too many processes.
What kind of host will you be?
Just like our students, our host families all have different personalities and different ways of doing things. It’s worth having a think about the kind of experience you want to offer your student when they visit, so you can make sure you’re providing the best experience possible.
Catering is one of the main things to think about (and offering flexibility here is a great way to attract more bookings from students). Lots of our host families enjoy serving up family-style food in the evenings, where their student can join the family for dinner and talk about their day. We love to hear stories of host families swapping local knowledge with their students, and evening learning new facts about other cultures, countries and other languages too!
You’ll get to swap messages with your student before they arrive at your home, so it might be worth asking them a few questions to get to know them better. For example, asking about what they enjoy eating can ensure you have a few things in the fridge they recognise when they arrive – a welcome gesture especially after a long flight! Asking your student about what their hobbies are or what they enjoy doing, can mean you make better recommendations for their spare time in the city.
Being a host family is a wonderful experience and one that is majorly rewarding. We hope you’ll join us, and get in touch today.
Join the discussion One Comment
I was wondering if I was able to start an application to become a host. I have a spare double room I. North Kensington.
I am very familiar with exchange student room rent as I used to do this with kings college in Oxford.