Hosting foreign students is a great way to make money from your house. If you’re not sure about having someone permanently renting a room in your home, letting it to foreign students or lecturers visiting a local university or college can provide a gentle introduction.
You can choose between hosting students learning English as a foreign language who are usually only here for about six weeks, or university students and lecturers who can be in the country for up to six months at a time. It’s a great way to meet new people and experience different cultures.
There are thousands of English language schools, social clubs, colleges and universities around the country with foreign students looking for places to stay while they learn. Types of students range from institution to institution. Lots of language schools run summer programmes for teenage foreign students, although during term time they have students of all ages for varying periods of time. Universities often run exchange programmes and will need accommodation for students for a term or a semester.
There are two types of hosting. The first is the easiest – you’re expected to provide house and board for a student who’ll then go to a language school or organised activities during the day. In the evenings and their free time they can come and go as they please. This is very flexible. Different schools will expect different types of board, from just bed and continental breakfast to full board. You can choose whether to let the students cook or use your laundry facilities, phone and internet.
The second option is providing accommodation, food and tuition for a certain proportion of the day. To do this you’ll be expected to have some sort of qualification in teaching English as a foreign language, preferably a TEFL.
If you want to start hosting students then your first port of call is a local language school. They’ll have an accommodation officer who’ll be in charge of a database of host families. To get on the database you’ll probably have to undergo a home inspection and be within a reasonable distance of the school.
The International Association of Language Centres and English UK both have a list of English Language schools in the UK. Find your nearest schools and give them a call.
If you’re close to a university, visit their website and try and find the accommodation office. If they don’t have a section about hosting foreign students then give them a call, see if they do it and if so how you can get involved. Find universities close to you on the UCAS website.
Companies such as Homestay.com allow you to rent out your spare room on a daily, weekly or monthly rate to students over the age of 18. Hosts are expected to provide a light breakfast as part of the cost, and can choose to provide other meals also at an additional cost to the student.
You can also look for adverts in your local paper and ask around. Even local football clubs do exchanges and need accommodation for foreign players. Put an ad up for free on Gumtree too so that anyone in your area can get in touch.
Another great site to check out is KaplanInternational.com. Kaplan International Colleges is a large international education group with over 40 English language schools worldwide including 11 in the UK and Ireland. They look for friendly hosts who are interested in learning about other cultures and who can provide a warm welcome and comfortable accommodation to international students. To find out more go to KaplanInternational.com.
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What you can charge depends on where you live, what your home’s like and what facilities you include as part of the rent. In London for bed and breakfast you can make around £100 a week, or about £150 with dinner. You can charge extra for use of the internet or to do laundry, if you’re willing to. Alternatively, including this in the price is a goodwill gesture and will give you more favourable feedback, encouraging the organisation to use you again.
If you offer a posh house with a bathroom en suite you can charge more – around £200 a week. Often mature students will prefer a double bed and en suite, so if you can offer this, then you’ll be better off.
Outside London, the going rate can vary from about £35 to £80 per week with central locations in bigger cities getting the top prices. The organisation you host for will probably give you an idea of acceptable prices. Charging too much will dissuade them from placing students with you, so be reasonable.
Because you have a tax-free allowance on revenue made from your home, your income from renting a room is likely to be completely tax free. You can make up to £4,250 a year before you start paying tax.
The only expenses you’ll incur are the extra costs of food. A good way to approach breakfast is to have a decent selection of bread, cereals and juice for students to choose from in the morning. This way they can grab whatever they want and go. If you’re providing dinner you can minimise your costs by including the student in your family evening meal. Cooking a separate meal for them isn’t cost or time effective. Be flexible – younger children may not want to eat certain things so it’s always good to cook popular dishes that you know they’ll like.
Although having another person in the house may increase energy costs, if you already have a family it shouldn’t be much more. Ones to watch are phone bills – the best way is to make sure students always use a phonecard with a freephone access number so you don’t incur any costs.
You also need to make sure that your home contents insurance is up to date and notify your insurance company that you have paying guests.
We think that hosting a foreign student is a brilliant way to make money and meet new people. You get to learn about foreign cultures, forge new relationships and even visit students in their home countries in the future. And if you don’t get on with one student you’re safe in the knowledge that they’re only there for a limited period of time so you don’t have to put up with them forever.
You might experience a culture clash now and again, but if you don’t mind coming home to unusual cooking smells in your kitchen, and you’re clear about the rules of your house, it should be fine.
Although hosting foreign students is great for extra cash, it’s not necessarily a steady income. If you’re looking to do it as your main income it might not be the right way to go but our article on how to run a B&B will certainly interest you.
If you’d like to host foreign students then have a look for your local language school using these sites:
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If you have experience hosting foreign students or would like to make money this way then leave a comment below.