A Guide to Accommodation in the USA for Students

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A Guide to Accommodation in the USA for Students


A Guide to Accommodation in the USA for Students


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Leaving the comfort of your home and moving abroad is never easy. 


There can’t be any place as lovely and comforting as home. But, we can still make the best out of the places we choose to live in and make it homely.


Similarly, living in the USA for an Indian student is not new yet is a challenging journey for anyone who aspire to move abroad. 


But, a number of universities in the USA house Indian students in their campuses as well as around the campus. 


To guide you through your accommodation in the USA, let’s discuss the types of accommodation in the USA for students along with other details. 


The cost of living and other expenses in the US are fairly high. Hence, staying in campus residences is a smarter choice. Assess this yourself by comparing below.


Suggested Read: https://blog.gradright.com/category/how-to-apply/

Types of Accommodation in the USA for Indian Students


Once you’ve been accepted into any university, the next step is to look for accommodations in the USA for students. 


Keep in mind that apart from facilities, location and costs, your safety also needs to be considered while looking for student accommodation in the USA.


The most commonly opted types of accommodation in the USA for students include:


  • On-campus residence
  • Off-campus residence
  • Homestays


For a detailed look into the types of accommodations in the USA for Indian students, examine their differences:

  • On-campus Residence

Home to numerous universities, Ivy leagues and various educational institutes, on-campus residences in the USA are notably expensive unlike those in the European institutes. 


However, the costs of the on-campus residences cover all the expenses, such as utilities, water services, and electricity costs. 


Additionally, most USA universities make it a rule for first-year students to live on-campus for easy access and to familiarize students with the university culture.


On-campus Residence



The average cost of on-campus accommodation in the USA for students can be estimated to be an amount ranging from USD 11,000/year and USD 15,000/year.


In the table below, check out the cost of on-campus accommodation in the USA for Indian students from various US universities.


University Cost (USD) Cost (INR)
Princeton University $10,960 ₹8,99,837.92 
University of Pennsylvania  $11,800 ₹9,68,803.60
Massachusetts Institute of Technology $ 11,980 ₹9,83,581.96
Brown University $ 14,800 ₹12,15,279.80 
Columbia University  $ 10,000- 16,500 ₹8,21,135-13,54,872.75 
University of California  $ 17,800 ₹14,61,620.30
Yale University  $ 18,000 ₹14,78,043
Stanford University  $ 18,600 ₹15,27,311.10
Harvard University  $19,500 ₹16,01,213.25 


How to Apply for an On-Campus Accommodation as an Indian student?


How to Apply for an On-Campus Accommodation as an Indian student?

Students can apply for on-campus accommodation through the university’s web page.


Most universities in the USA have their own international students office and a helpdesk specifically dedicated to international students’ service. 


International students are guided by the helpdesk in the entire process of booking on-campus rooms. 


Admitted students are immediately offered on-campus rooms and asked to connect with the handling authority for registration of accommodation in the campus.


However, most universities offer rooms on a lottery basis. Students are not given the liberty of choosing their own rooms but rather assigned by the authority.


This is due to the limitation of accommodation, therefore, serving them on a first-cum first, serve basis. 

  • Off-campus Residence

Living outside of the campus allows you to be independent. 


Students residing off-campus are not bound by the rules of campus residences and have more room for privacy. 


Off-campus accommodations in the USA are cheaper than on-campus residences. 


However, the cost of such accommodation varies from city to city. 


Off-campus costs also vary based on the types, some of the types you can opt for are: 

  • Shared apartments
  • Private rents
  • Off-campus residence halls
  • Luxury accommodation (studios or shared) 
  • Self-catered apartments 


For more details on city-based cost of off-campus residences, refer to the table below: 


Cities  Cost ($)/ month Cost (₹)/ month
Chicago  $ 1,000- $1,500 ₹82,832.50 – ₹1,24,248.75 
Philadelphia  $1,200- $1,500 ₹99,399 – ₹1,24,248.75 
Los Angeles $ 1,500- $2,500 ₹1,24,248.75 – ₹2,07,081.25 
Washington DC $ 1,500- $2,500 ₹1,24,248.75 – ₹2,07,081.25 
Boston  $ 1,500- $3,000 ₹1,24,248.75 – ₹2,48,497.50
New York $ 1,500- $3,000 ₹1,24,248.75 – ₹2,48,497.50
Baltimore  $ 1,500- $1,800 ₹1,24,248.75 – ₹1,49,098.50
San Diego $ 1,400- $2,400 ₹1,15,965.50 – ₹1,98,798
San Francisco $ 2,200- $4,000 ₹1,82,231.50 – ₹3,31,330


While considering living in an off-campus residence, Indian students should keep in mind that they will also have to bear the cost of facilities and utilities like water, electricity and internet apart from the rent. 


For easy access to finding the perfect off-campus accommodation in the USA for students, websites like Spotahome, UniAcco, OXCEE, Uniplaces, Roomi, are useful.


The cost of food and other expenses have to be borne separately by the students as well. 


Off-campus Residence





Other than the rent expenses, the cost of food have been listed in the table below:


Food  Cost ($) Cost (₹)
Mid-range meal $15 ₹1,162
McDonalds $8 ₹620
Domestic beer  $5 ₹387
Cappuccino  $4.45 ₹344.95
Water (1.5l) $1.84 ₹142.63
Milk (1L) $0.90 ₹69.77
500gm Bread $2.86 ₹221.70
White rice (1kg) $4 ₹310.07
Chicken (1kg) $10.41 ₹806.96
apples(1kg) $4.68 ₹362.78
Potato (1kg) $2.63 ₹203.87


  • Homestays 

Homestays are a popular type of accommodation in the USA for Indian students. 

Living in homestays basically means living with an American host family. International students are arranged to live with an American family, volunteering to act as hosts.

This type of accommodation in the USA for students offers a unique chance to be an active part of the host family’s activities, traditions and meals.




This is a great opportunity for Indian students to experience a new culture, learn about the local lifestyle and get familiar with the environment.

While opting to stay in a homestay, the student will be asked to sign an agreement by filling up a questionnaire which consists  of questions regarding your health and safety concerns.

The easiest way for students to check for authentic and verified homestays in the USA is by registering with the American Homestay Network (AHN), a verified website dedicated to students studying in the USA. 




Verdict: Which is the best type of accommodation in the USA for students?

The best type of accommodation is the one where you find your comfort.

Nonetheless, other factors like cost, security, proximity, and accessibility determine the best type of accommodation for you.

The best accommodation in the USA for first-year students is the on-campus residence. With more experience and exposure, you can easily move off-campus after your first semester.

For an easier understanding of the estimated cost and type of accommodation, let us read the table below:


Type  Cost  Cost 
On-Campus $11,000 – $15,000/ year ₹8,52,802.50-₹11,62,920
Off-campus/private accommodation $6,000- $49,000/year. ₹4,65,168-₹37,98,872
Homestay $7,000 (a year) + $300 up-front fee ₹5,42,696-₹23,258.40


Other types of accommodation in the USA for Indian students include temporary stays such as student hostels which are fully equipped with secure lockers and fewer facilities. 

They usually provide dining facilities and are suitably arranged for a safe and comfortable stay while students look for a more permanent place.

HI, NY Moore Hostel and Freehand are some of the popular student hostels in the USA. The rent of these hostels ranges from $15- $20/per night.

Suggested Read: USA Spring Intake Guide 2023

Tips to Find Suitable Accommodation in the USA as a Student

When on the hunt for the best accommodation in the USA for Indian students, the following points should be taken into consideration

  • Safety and security should be at the top of the list. 
  • Proximity – the campus and accommodation should be within walking distance.
  • Accessibility to grocery stores, departmental, etc.
  • Cafes and restaurants to hang out with your friends.
  • Pharmacies and the availability of medical services such as clinics, hospitals are a must-have for those students in rented or off-campus accommodations.

As a general rule, first-year Indian students will be automatically placed at on-campus residences. 

The seats fill up quickly on a first-cum-first serve basis. 

Therefore, it is advised that Indian students thoroughly research the preferred type of accommodation well ahead in advance.

You can also take help from a SelectRight professional for the same. 

First-year students will quickly get adapted to university life once a few weeks are settled.

The world has a lot to offer. University dorms are a microcosm of the globe. 

Hence, the best advice to give is to grasp whatever opportunity comes at your door and enhance your knowledge and skills.

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. Is it mandatory for all international students to live on-campus?

    Ans: On-campus accommodation is primarily made mandatory for all first-year international students. Second-year/ sophomores can opt to stay in off-campus accommodations.

  2. Which is the best type of accommodation in the USA for Indian students?

    Ans: Off-campus accommodation in the USA for students is cheaper, but expenses such as the cost of utilities and bills are managed separately. Meanwhile, on-campus accommodations are fully equipped with all kinds of facilities, meals, library, internet, security, etc.

  3. Is it safe to stay at a homestay accommodation in the USA for students?

    Ans: Homestays are a safe choice for students who want to explore the local culture and lifestyle.

  4. What is the average cost of on-campus accommodation in the USA for Indian students?

    Ans: The average cost ranges from USD 10,000-USD 15,000 i.e, INR 8,20,905 – INR 12,31,507.50.

  5. Which are the best websites to search for student accommodation in the USA?

    Ans: Uniplaces, Nestpick, UniAcco, AmberStudent, Spotahome, and Homelike are some of the best websites to search for off-campus accommodation.


Picture of Anand Patinge

Anand Patinge

A master storyteller, Anand has enriched multiple entities with captivating designs, compelling messaging, and impactful media campaigns. Beyond work, you can find him feeding stray dogs, exploring art, and watching insiprational documentaries.

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