The pros and cons of living with a host family

30 March 2017
Bellerbys students in their homestay accommodation

Living with a host family 

Choosing accommodation is one of the toughest decisions an international student has to make even before you board the plane to the UK. You find yourself mulling over all the options, trying to make the right decision. 

At Bellerbys, you have the option to live with a host family if you so choose. All Bellebys’ homestay families are carefully chosen for their friendliness and security. They will always welcome you with open arms and provide you with everything you need. Bellerbys also offers Homestay Plus Accommodation for students aged under 16 years. Homestay Plus families provide a greater level of support and supervision to guarantee the safety and comfort of younger students. As Bellerbys colleges are also boarding schools you can also choose to live in the comfortable dorms.

Staying with a host family abroad is a popular option for international students. Before you decide, you should think about of the downsides along with the perks of homestay to make the best choice for you.

Here are some of the pros and cons of living with a host family:

The advantages with a host family

1. You can perfect your language skills

Living with a host family is the best way for you to truly master English. You have no other options but to speak English every day. Better yet, your host family will be the best English teachers you can ever find because you will learn all the idioms and slang that are used in everyday conversations but never show up in your text books. The English you learn at school is sufficient for your academic needs, but it might not be good enough for daily conversational situations. I have lost count of all the times I felt perplexed, left out and frustrated by commonly used words in simple daily conversations. From your host family, 

2. You can immerse yourself in local culture

There is no better way to experience the British way of life than involving yourself in it as much as possible. By living like a local, you completely soak up  the culture that is so famous around the world without even stepping out of the house.

3. You don’t have to worry about house chores

It is tiring to have to worry about doing the washing up after a busy day at school. If you live on your own, you may find yourself skipping meals and living on instant noodles during exam periods, because you cannot afford to spare an hour to go grocery shopping. You may not even have time to do your laundry. That’s why living with a host family is an attractive choice for parents, who want their children to be fed freshly cooked food, wear clean clothes and to sleep on freshly washed linens.

4. It is more economical

Living with a host family us usually cheaper than staying in dorms. You may spend a bit more on transportation, but with proper meals ready each evening, laundry included and rooms that are often bigger than most standard dorm rooms, it is better value for money.

5. You have a family away from home

When you study abroad, you don’t just move from one place to another, you move from one lifestyle to another. Usually a totally different lifestyle. You no longer live with your parents and siblings who are happy to see you. You can't can’t find the ingredients to cook your comfort food and are exasperated by differences, like the two separate taps in the sink. In times like these, you will crave extra support and your host family will be available for you whenever you need some help.

The disadvantages of living with a host family

1. You can be far away from the city centre

Most host families live in residential areas, which are more often ton the outskirts of town. It took me 45 minutes by bus to get to the city centre, plus another 15 minute walk to get to school. If you want to roll out of bed five minutes before school starts and still be able to make it on time, staying with a host family may not be for you.

2. You may have less privacy

You will certainly have your own room (unless you choose to share). But you will have to share the rest of the house (including bathroom, kitchens, internet etc.) with your host family.

3. You have to follow house rules

If your host family always sits down and has dinner at six o'clock, you may be expected to do so as well. Your host family may have a set of house rules that is  totally different from what you are familiar with. It will be difficult to stray from the routines you grew up, but you have to be prepared for it if you choose to live with a host family. Additionally, if you are under 18, expect strict curfews. After all, your host family is contractually obliged to ensure your safety.

4. The food

Some of us may find British food bland and containing much more potatoes than necessary. The home-cooked food in your host family might not be to your taste. If you have any dietary requirements (for example if you are lactose-intolerant) make your host family aware and they will do their best to prepare suitable meals for you.

5. You have less interaction with your friends

If you want to invite your friends over, you will have to ask your host parents for permission. It can also be difficult to visit your friends after school if they live on the other side of town.

Find out more about our Colleges and the different accommodation options they offer.