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Booking a homestay – The Big 5

For international students intending to study abroad, there are a million and one things to consider and arrange.  Where to actually live during the period abroad is just one of them.  That said, it is a key factor in a student’s enjoyment of London and their overall study experience here.

Overseas students choose homestay accommodation for many different reasons, but here are the top priorities that we hear over and over again from our students:

 1.  Location

Location of the homestay – this is often priority number one.  Whether it is an international student studying at a language school or an intern working in London, the location of the homestay is crucial.  Most overseas students tend to study in central London, often in the Holborn/Bloomsbury area (zone 1).  If the homestay guest is an intern, the internship is as likely to be located in zone 4 as it is in zone 1.  Either way, the less time the guest has to spend commuting, the more time they will have to enjoy London!

2.  “A Home from Home”

Homestay guests are looking for more than just a room – they are looking for an experience.  This might be: (i)  to help them really experience the culture and charm of a city and country and not just stay there (ii)  improving their English by eating and conversing with their host family (great for language skill and colloquialism practice!) (iii)  having a real support network that comes from being part of a real home.

The homestay should offer a life experience that a guest will not find staying in a hotel or hostel, or hanging out with existing friendship groups.

3.  Budget

Budget is a key consideration for students.  As a general rule, international students studying at language schools in London will have lower budgets than overseas students studying at universities here.  If the homestay guest is an intern, their budget will vary depending on whether they are being paid to do the internship.  Whilst many companies do pay their interns, there are many that do not.  In fact, some require the intern to pay for the placement – although this is usually a fee payable to the internship organiser/agency, not the company hosting the intern.

4.  Big City Safety

Foreign students often do NOT know London well.  A student researching safety in London will often rely on Google for information upon which to make decisions.  Often what a student or guest reads online will not be what it is like in reality.  Brixton, for example, is an area that historically did not have the best reputation.  However, for a number of years now Brixton has been one of London’s most sought after areas for young British professionals looking to buy or rent property.

Students often perceive central (zone 1) to be the safest part of London.  However, London’s crime statistics consistently show that the lowest crime figures are in the suburbs (zones 3 & 4).

5.  Access to a Private Bathroom

A request from homestay guests that we are seeing more and more is for access to a private bathroom.  Whereas many family homes in London do not offer this, our portfolio of homestay accommodation does include options for private bathroom facilities. This could be an en-suite or separate bathroom.  A private bathroom supplement is payable weekly but it can give homestay guests some additional privacy in their new home to help them really settle in and feel at home.

How can we help with your Accommodation Priorities?

HFS London specialises in homestay accommodation.  If you are trying to decide whether staying with a host family is the right option for you, please bear in mind that your flexibility is very important to making it a successful experience.

If you do have specific priorities, or things that you are looking for in your accommodation, then let us know in our homestay application form, or get in touch to discuss your priorities with us before applying.

We would love to hear from you… and help if we can!

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