Hosting an international student is a wonderfully rewarding and enriching experience for any person or family. You get the opportunity to learn about cultural differences and expand your worldview through the day-to-day events of living with an international student, making all the time and energy of hosting more than worthwhile!
The best host families are always motivated by this desire to learn from and invest in a student, whether they are compensated or not. But hosting an international student for income can be a doubly rewarding experience as many homestay companies do compensate their host families with some form of a stipend to offset some of the costs associated with housing, feeding, and transporting a student.
Paid homestay opportunities can widen the pool of people interested in hosting, and it can be an attractive option for a person or family with an extra room looking for some additional income. However, hosting a student should never be undertaken lightly, so here are three things to keep in mind when considering hosting an international student for income. This information shouldn’t discourage you from hosting, but rather encourage and equip you with realistic expectations before you embark on your journey as a host parent or family!
1. Homestay Hosting is More Than Just Renting Out A Room
In a typical renter situation, you would just provide the space and let your renter go about their own business. They can completely maintain their own schedule and it’s not necessary for you to interact with them unless some problem arises.
Hosting an international student in a homestay is a different story, especially if the student is high school aged or younger. In these cases, hosting is much less a renting situation and more of a commitment and investment into a young person’s life. You will need to establish house rules, boundaries, expectations, and reminders about things like the importance of getting homework done, getting enough sleep, etc. While some students will be less open than others to your input, your encouragement and open communication will go a long way in maintaining a positive and meaningful relationship. International students are, after all, like any young people - they need a caring and nurturing home to thrive, especially since they are in a foreign country thousands of miles away from what’s familiar.
While this may seem daunting, remember that it’s through your diligence in these things that a student’s life is positively impacted in the long term. The investment that homestay companies make in compensating you can help motivate you to invest well in your student!
2. Hosting Is A Part-Time Job
It’s best to think of hosting as a part-time job, from the application stage through the end of your term as a host family. From a homestay company’s standpoint, families or individuals who are responsive and diligent help make each step of the process of placing a student goes as smoothly as possible, and companies will more enthusiastically recommend you to the next student as you prove yourself to be a reliable host family.
It is also helpful to think of hosting like a part-time job from a time-management standpoint, especially if you don’t have children in the household of a similar age to your student and will therefore have to create some new daily routines. Decide beforehand if you can commit to the extra time and effort it will require to have the requisite meals prepared, to transport the student to and from school, and to spend some quality time with your student. Taking the time to evaluate your current normal schedule to see how these tasks will fit in will help you prepare for the time commitment that hosting requires.
Treating hosting like a job also helps keep your expectations reasonable and flexible. Like any job, there will be easy days and more difficult days, days that require less than normal or more than normal amount of your attention. Going into hosting with the correct mindset makes a world of difference!
3. Hosting Can Be An Unpredictable Source of Income
While you can reasonably commit to the semester or 10-month duration of a student’s stay and expect that to play out as planned, the reality is that every now and then a homestay arrangement dissolves, ending that stream of income as a result. Students may move out from your home mid-semester or mid-year for a number of reasons, and while this doesn’t happen too often, it’s best to go into hosting knowing that this is at least a possibility.
You should always clarify with your homestay company beforehand what their policies are in the event of an unexpected student move. Some companies will prorate you for the days the student was in your home, while others may pay or withhold the full month’s stipend depending on when the student moved out. So make sure you do your due diligence to understand what your homestay company’s policies are before you start hosting!
Also, if you are housing students for multiple school years at a time, the stipend is not paid throughout the summer months when the student is not living with you, so you will need to prepare and budget for the missing income in those months.
Hosting A Student with StudentRoomStay Concierge
At StudentRoomStay Concierge, we recognize that hosting is a sizeable commitment requiring extra time, grocery shopping, and fuel costs, so we are happy to compensate our host families to make the arrangement mutually beneficial for everyone! Our stipends vary depending on location, but we try to stay as competitive as possible within the geographic market you’re located in.
Now that you have a realistic idea of what it’s like to host a student for extra income, why don’t you join us? We maintain a large pool of qualified, vetted host families who are ready to provide a caring home for any given semester or short-term camp, and we’d love to have you join us as we serve international students studying here in the U.S.!