Under 18? No problem! Here are the best accommodation and housing options for under 18’s and international students studying at university in Australia.
Going away to university and living on your own is one of the coolest parts about continuing your studies in a new city or country. Moving out of home gives you unprecedented levels of independence, freedom, decorating power – and it’s your first real taste of adulthood.
So what if you’re not – legally, at least – an adult yet?
The legal age someone is considered an adult in Australia is 18. When you reach that magical birthday, you can drink, vote, join the military, sign a contract, skydive and a whole bunch of other cool stuff. If you’re under 18, you’re still considered a minor. This won’t hinder your experience in Australia, but when it comes to accommodation it may require a little extra thought and planning on your part.
As an international student under 18, you will have two options for accommodation.
Option #1: Triple A – Alternative, Approved, Accommodation – University Approved Accommodation
If you don’t have connections in Australia, or it isn’t possible for a parent or guardian to travel with you, fear not! Your university can still assist you in finding housing to complete your studies.
You will have to be accepted by a certified accommodation provider who can guarantee they will house you for the duration of your time in Australia, or at least until you turn 18. Without this acceptance and guarantee, your student visa will not be accepted – so you need to get on it as quickly as you can! You’ll need to inform your university and have your accommodation be approved by them as well, at which point you will finally be able to submit your student visa application. So many hoops to jump through!
Depending on the university of your choice, there can be a huge variety in different styles of accommodations, all with their pros and cons. You can do a homestay arrangement, live in a student apartment, stay in a residential college… the choice is yours, and research is probably in order! It’s best to discuss all your accommodation options with your university anyway, as the institution will have to approve of your accommodation plan. Some have special programs and requirements for their underage students, so reach out to double check what they’ll need from you.
As a minor, your safety is of the utmost importance, so these accommodation options that will be provided to you by the university are typically run by a business, and therefore have processes in place designed to protect you. Business-run student housing in Australia have excellent safety and security, with facilities designed to make students choose them over private share housing. In student apartments or residential colleges, it wouldn’t be uncommon to find a maze of keycard-required entry points, CCTV, even a doorman or security staff. University-affiliated accommodation providers are a notch above the rest, which is why they’re so highly recommended to under 18 students.
The good news is – most accommodations are not restricted to students under 18. Wherever you end up is housing that the general student populace will have access to, so you’re not missing out by being slightly younger than your peers. You may have to do a little more paperwork to get in, but you’re not being babysat or held separately to all your friends! You get the student experience, just like anybody else.
One thing to note however would be that if you are a minor co-existing with ‘legal adult’ university students, you may notice that they will be allowed to drink alcohol, and you will not. Depending on which accommodation provider you choose, they may not even allow alcohol on the premises, so this may not become an issue for you, but at times – particularly in residential colleges – it can be easy for underage students to feel left out or uncomfortable. Fortunately, university is a wonderful place filled with all kinds of different people, many of whom won’t care for alcohol no matter how old they are. Drinking culture is not at all as pervasive as you may believe – no party or event is ever hinged around alcohol, and any gathering you wish to go to will have countless people who don’t like to drink, are underage just like you, designated drivers or simply don’t care. You won’t feel left out just because your next-door neighbours are old enough to drink.
Option #2: Bringing A Piece of Home With You – Staying With A Relative
Easy enough! If you have relatives in Australia, an option for you could be to just go stay with them! It’s a familiar face and a piece of home, so you can’t go wrong!
As a minor, you will have to nominate a legal guardian. This is a parent, or legal custodian, over 21 years old who will live in Australia with you for the same length of time as your student visa, or until you turn 18.
They will need to be nominated by your parent or guardian in your home country, and will need to fill out the 157N form. You will have to provide evidence of your relationship to the relative, evidence they are over the age of 21, a police check, and evidence they may remain in Australia until you turn 18 or for the time left on your Visa.
Staying with a relative affords you not only a reprieve from homesickness but also greater independence when compared to university-affiliated accommodation providers. These can typically run like a business and have fairly strict rules about what you can and can’t do in the building, such as painting your room or quiet hours.
Finding approved accommodation with your university or staying with a relative are the two main housing options for Under 18 international students coming to Australia. Staying with a relative may be the more comfortable, familiar option, perhaps with more freedom (unless it’s a very strict relative!) but living in approved accommodation will expose you to more students and give you a more accurate experience of university life. And probably a little more independence.
Depending on your preferences, and whether or not you even have connections in Australia, this will be a decision for you to make! In the meantime, you can check out the Australian government’s requirements for international student accommodation.
And note that once you turn 18, you can stay in your existing accommodation, or leave the nest and choose your own, such as a share house or private rental. Ahh, ‘adulthood.’