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Where to stay

Once you have been in New Zealand for a while, you may decide to change your accommodation. The table below gives a brief explanation of the different sorts of accommodation available to international students. For more information go to:, click on ‘general information’, then ‘accommodation’ in the right column (also available in Chinese).

If you are under 18 years of age your education provider will assess available accommodation for you.

What it’s like?


Private board

You have your own room in a private residential home or boarding house. Meals are provided, and probably shared. You are free to come and go as you please. You may or may not be expected to help with household chores. You will usually be expected to care for your own room.


You live with a family in their home. You will be treated like one of the family and expected to help out with household chores and to oblige to the rules set by your host parents such as curfews. Mealtimes will be shared together. Homestays are great for helping with your English because you will need to speak English in the home.Halls of residence


You have your room or share with another. Meals will be provided in a communal dining room. Cleaning services are provided, but you will be expected to care for your room. Usually located on campus or nearby.


You rent a house or apartment (any building where people live together, who are not a family or couple, is called a flat) either on your own or with others. Flats are usually unfurnished. You will have your own room, or may share with another. The rent is usually worked out according to the size of the room. All other expenses are divided, and cooking meals and cleaning is usually shared.

Living in a homestay – some questions to ask

If you live in a homestay, remember, having you in the house may also be a new experience for your host family, as well as for you. Talk with your hosts about any worries you have so that any misunderstandings can be avoided. Ask them what is expected of you regarding, for example, helping with chores around the house. Ask about the food you will be having, where to put dirty clothes, and whether you can use the telephone and computer. In some instances you may need to purchase your own telephone line and computer. Girls may want to ask where to dispose of sanitary items. You may also want to ask what the best time for you is to have a shower and to do your laundry. Generally, in New Zealand there is only enough hot water to have a 10 minute shower each day. Electricity in New Zealand in expensive and some types of heaters are dangerous to leave unattended. If you are using an electric blanket to warm your bed, it is dangerous to leave it on while you’re asleep.

Flatting – renting accommodation for yourself

Think carefully before considering sharing a flat (see above description) or organising accommodation which has not been checked out by your education provider. A flat will give you more freedom, but it will probably be harder for you to find private study time. If you move into an empty flat (rather than take a room in one that is already set up) you will need to arrange the power (electricity) and/or gas, and the phone, and be responsible for paying for them. You may also need to buy furniture. Many landlords require a lease of one year or more. The government operates a bond system for the protection of both landlords and tenants, so you will need to pay a bond too.

The New Zealand Tenancy Service has really useful information on renting, designed for people who need to know the basics about renting for the first time. To view further information about renting, go to the New Zealand Tenancy Service website:

Other useful information is located at: Tenancy information is also available in several languages including Chinese. Go to,

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