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Accommodation - A guide for international students

What are my accommodation options?

You will have a range of options to choose from, with varying costs attached. Student accommodation in Ireland falls into four broad types:

  1. On-campus accommodation: Campus accommodation in halls of residence is always in demand and can be relatively expensive. It is generally organised as apartments of 4 to 8 students, with a private bedroom and a shared kitchen, living room and bathroom. Rent must normally be paid at the start of each semester, rather than on a monthly basis. An advance deposit is also required, refunded when you leave. Utilities such as heating are usually extra, although several halls of residence include heat and electricity in their initial charge and deduct payment for usage in excess of the average allowed for from the deposit. It is important to check specific arrangements with your college.
  2. Long-term student hostel: There is limited availability for this option but it can be quite flexible. You stay in a hostel with other students and your monthly rent provides for use of a communal living area and kitchen, along with a bedroom. Breakfast and sometimes dinner will be included in the rent, as are utility bills.
  3. Accommodation with a family: You can live as a paying guest in an Irish home, where you have your own room with space to study, but otherwise share the house with the family. This is a popular option with students attending English language schools, especially for short courses, but is also an arrangement that works well for many further and higher education students. In Ireland, accommodation with a family is commonly known as living in 'digs'; in other countries it may be better known as 'homestay'. Normally, morning and evening meals will be provided but you will need to buy your own midday meal on campus or elsewhere. There are no extra charges for heat, light etc., and some of your laundry will be done.
  4. Private rented accommodation: The options here include renting a bed-sit, a flat/apartment or sharing a house. It is usually cheaper to share accommodation with others.

    A bed-sit is a essentially a single room unit with basic cooking facilities (a mini-kitchen area), a bed and some additional furniture. Toilet and bathroom facilities are generally shared with the other occupants of the building through there may be a self-contained shower.

    A flat or apartment will offer a kitchen and living room (possibly combined), a bathroom and one or more bedrooms. Again, quality and cost varies. A compact one bedroom unit may cost little more than a bed-sit, while a three bedroom flat/apartment will cost substantially more.

    A house or apartment share with other people can be the cheapest, as bills are divided among more people. Sharing a room can reduce costs even further.

    In all cases, rents are usually payable monthly and in advance. At the beginning of a letting period you pay a deposit of one month's rent, which will be refunded when you leave (provided you have not caused any damage to the premises). The normal length of a lease is 9 or 12 months, and it can be difficult to find anything shorter. If you break a lease without notice or if you do not adhere to the terms of the lease, you will lose your deposit.


Where can I get assistance to find accommodation?

Accommodation Officer: If your accommodation has not been pre-booked for you, the Accommodation Officer at your university or college is the person who can advise you about the accommodation that best fits your needs and your budget. At the accommodation office you will be able to look through lists of suitable places, then choose which to go and see. The choice is always better if you arrive well in advance of the start of your course. Allow as much time as possible to organise accommodation. You might consider booking a period in a hostel to have a base from which to start your search.

Internet: There are also a number of websites that you can access to find apartments, house shares and 'digs' (a room in a family home), for example:


What do I need to be aware of in looking for accommodation off-campus?

In cities like Dublin and Cork, the number of students needing accommodation has kept growing and the available accommodation hasn't kept up. This means that international students who have not secured campus accommodation face extra challenges to find suitable accommodation. It is important to be aware that every year there are reports of scams on students seeking accommodation - e.g. taking payment online for accommodation that is not for rent.

Advice for renting off-campus


RTB Checklist for Students Renting for the First Time

Threshold guide to renting for students

USI Finance and Accommodation Guide


What extra costs do I need to consider in choosing accommodation?

It is important to budget for the additional costs, apart from rent, that you will face with each type of accommodation.

Living with a family may offer the lowest rent and include utility costs and some meals but you will need to budget for buying additional meals.

Setting yourself up in privately rented accommodation can be quite expensive and involve a number of up-front costs:

If you are moving into an already occupied house, some of these costs will have been met and you may not have to pay out such a large sum.


How is rent usually paid?

You will need to agree a payment method with your landlord.

He/she may want you set up a monthly Standing Order with your bank. This is a good, secure method of payment which means that the rent will be paid from your bank account directly into the property owner's bank account each time it is due. You will need the owner to provide you with the name of his/her bank and account number and go to your bank to set up payment by Standing Order. This can be done at the branch in which your account has been set up or by Internet banking.

Even without setting up a regular standing order, you will still be able to make your landlord an online payee and manually activate a payment each time the rent is due.

If you are required to pay in cash you should always make sure to obtain a signed receipt or an entry in your rent book for each payment.


Is it possible to get insurance for my belongings when I am in shared accommodation?

There are limited options for insurance provision for an student possessions in shared accommodation. The following company may be able to provide cover: Cover 4 Students


Where can I find more / get advice about my legal rights as a tenant?

See ICOS' basic guide to your legal rights as a tenant in private rented accommodation.


Last updated: November 2017