Want to know more about Ireland’s student housing options? Xin Zhou, our Chinese ambassador and MSc Quantitative Finance student at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, shares her top tips…

When you first arrive into an unfamiliar city you may feel homesick or even helpless and finding a comfortable place to live becomes one of the biggest concerns for most international students. I have lived in Ireland for almost three years now and I want to share my own experiences to help you find your perfect place to live. Read on for my tips that I hope will help you…

Student walking through a door on campus

Living on campus

Firstly, let’s talk about what it is like to live on campus since it is the preferred choice for most international students studying abroad for the first time.

For my first year in Ireland I lived on campus at UCD Belfield. It became one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. Living on campus I got the chance to know so many other international students and learn about their different cultures. It really helped me to make friends and become familiar with university life. Living on campus is a convenient choice for students looking to stay close to classes and it offers a sense of security.

The best thing about living on campus is that you can cook for yourself. What could be better than inviting your friends over to have dinner together on weekends and holidays!

For UCD, accommodation applications begin in early May for incoming students starting in September. Students can choose where they want to live following the guidelines on the housing section of the UCD website.

As for the cost of living on campus? For me, it cost around €6500 per semester, which is considerably higher than living off campus.

Xin's host family along with their family dog

Xin Zhou with her host family and dog Hector

Living with a host family

Living with a host family basically means that you will live with local people and share common rooms with their family. You might have a bigger bedroom than what is available living on campus and it is a much more comfortable living environment.

I have been living with a host family for about two years now and it has been so much fun. I found that living with a host family helped to heal my home sickness. My host family are more than just my landlords, they really care about me. Animal lovers may discover that their host family has a pet. My current host family has a dog named Hector and he really is the cutest dog I have ever seen.

One disadvantage of living off campus is that the home could be far from the university and the closer you get to campus the higher the rent is likely to be. Most host families charge between €600 – 750 per month or €150 – 200 per week. It is considerably less than the costs of living on campus.

Many universities have their own website helping international students find reliable host families. I found my current host family on UCD’s website.

Students gathered on the steps of campus having a chat

Living with friends or by yourself 

Choosing to live by yourself or sharing with friends means you will have a lot more privacy than living with your landlord. This way you won’t have to consider your host’s living habits.

I haven’t tried to live by myself yet, so I don’t have much personal experience, but living by yourself is always a good way to become more independent.

This is my experience of finding a place to live in Ireland as an international student. I really hope you find somewhere lovely to live and enjoy studying and living here.