Once you’ve been accepted and have made the decision to attend a school in Hawai‘i, one of the next things to figure out is where you’re going to live. Whether your time of study in Hawai‘i will be a short summer program, or 4+ years at a traditional university, there are a number of factors to consider when researching your housing options. Fortunately there are a number of resources, within your school and beyond, to help you determine the best fit.
ON OR OFF?
The first decision to make is whether you will live on or off campus. Once you make that decision, the housing options relevant to you will be narrowed down considerably. Your age, life experiences and budget will all affect whether an on- or off-campus residence best fits your needs.
Not every school offers on-campus housing, so check with the school’s main office or student affairs office to find out if on-campus housing is available and the specific requirements for living on campus. Many of the K-12 private schools with international student programs offer boarding options, and the large universities have dormitory and on-campus housing available.
Living on campus can offer many benefits: it’s typically close to classrooms, libraries, dining halls and other student resources, is usually cheaper, and provides an opportunity to live and socialize with fellow students.
Alternatively, living off campus offers a different variety of advantages that may be more appealing. A house, apartment or studio off campus can offer more space, may be quieter, and will provide insight into the kama‘äina (local) perspective.
Living off campus will also allow you to live where you want. If you want to live within walking distance of the beach, in an urban environment, or close to the mountains, you can do so. Of course, you’ll need to research the distance from your ideal neighborhood to school, how you will get to class, how long the commute will take, and rental prices, but the extra research may be worth it.
Whether on campus or off, the housing you choose should be comfortable and safe, and your surroundings should support your ability to focus and enjoy your studies.
For students with short periods of study in the islands, a hotel or hostel may be the best option.
Of course, some study programs may provide housing and include it in the cost of tuition. Whatever your situation, look closely at the material provided by your school. If on campus housing is available, the school will provide information, and most will provide information about housing companies, property managers, and other off campus housing resources on their websites.
It is strongly recommended that you visit and inspect an off-campus apartment or condo before signing a contract to live there. If that is not possible, consider working with a local real estate agent or property management company and do careful research on the location, company or individual renting the property, type of building, and neighborhood before signing a contract or paying a deposit.
Read any off-campus housing contract carefully before you sign it.