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Become a Homestay Host Family to Foreign Students and You can Make Money from Your House

Updated on July 3, 2013

The economy being the way it is, there is no guarantee what the future will bring.

Times are uncertain, jobs can be hard to find. There seem to be an overabundance of skilled labour with not enough roles to fill. For many of us, money is pretty tight, particularly if you have a few of mouths to feed.

Being a homestay host family can make a difference to your financial position.

My husband and I have been homestay hosts for more than three years. It has been a little bit of a roller coaster ride in the early stages, but from the purse strings point of view, it had given us the financial relief that we so desperately needed at that time.

Yes, there is the inconvenience of having someone else who is not a member of your family living with you, but once you get over that mental hump, the benefits are too great to ignore.


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What is a Homestay Host Family?

On grass roots level, a homestay is basically a private home where the hosts provide accommodation and meals to either visiting travellers (short term) or foreign students (long term). What is expected as part of the package is:

  • A room with a wardrobe, furnished with a single bed, a desk, a study lamp, a chair and a bin.
  • Access to shared bathroom.
  • A friendly, clean and safe environment with access to public transport.
  • Meals which include breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week.

Under the Tenancy Act in Victoria (which is generally the same for each state in Australia), a homestay host family can provide accommodation up to 3 rooms at any one given time.

If four or more rooms are provided, the accommodation is no longer considered a Homestay, but will fall under the category of Room House or Boarding House. A Room House or Boarding House, which is not part of the Homestay program, is considered a commercial venture and is under different regulations.


Our experience

Being a homestay host has its benefits and disadvantages.

On the whole, however, we have seriously enjoyed our space as Australian homestay parents, hosting international students who study here in Melbourne. (Our decision to go with being homestay hosts to students was based on financial returns as it provides longer term income as compared to short term stays associated with visitors from overseas or travellers.) In the past 3 years in this capacity, we have hosted students from Thailand, South Korea, Germany, Hong Kong and various parts of China.

Students arrive as young as 14 years old, but in general the students we host are of approximately 16 years of age. I noted that the younger ones do need more care and attention, as can be imagined. It must be difficult for the young students to be away from home in a strange land with a totally different language and culture.

My husband and I decided from the onset to provide the same supervision over these students as we would with our own children. We regard them as part of our family, thus we ensure that they do their school homework, have sufficient healthy food, exercise and rest. While we are expected to provide 3 meals a day 7 days a week, we found that students choose to go out to have a meal or two in restaurants during the weekends to catch up on food cooked in their familiar home-country style.

These students generally stay through their school term holidays with us but return to their home country during the long summer school holidays, giving us a break and rest as well.

Majority of these students stay on with us for an average of 18 months. However, as we have a reputation with schools in our vicinity as reliable and caring homestay hosts, we very quickly are given supply of another student to replace the one who had left.


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The Benefits

Our family tend to be more on the sociable side, so being a homestay host family for international students suits us very well.

Over the years, our sons have come to be quite good friends with these students, keeping in touch with them even after they have long left our home. The students who had left but still in Melbourne area do visit us and stay a few nights with us during their University semester holidays, this time as good friends and not board-paying students.When they do come for a short stay, my whole family views it as family members returning home for a visit. The family table is very animated during dinner time as we all try to catch up with the latest happenings!

As we are interested in other cultures and places in the world, we learn so much from the students who live with us. While we teach them the English language and the Aussie places and culture, they reciprocate by teaching us theirs. We are hardly experts in the Thai, Korean, German or Chinese languages, but we can now speak a few basic words here and there :)

Learning to live in harmony and as a community is the other positive aspect of hosting these students. It took my husband and I a little time to work out what worked for us as a host family providing homestay accommodation and what rules to establish in order that everyone is treated fairly and with respect. We had to improve on the house rules a few times until we are happy that it works for all concerned.

The other obvious primary benefit as to why we do this in the first place is that we get another source of income to supplement what we already have. Homestay fees are anywhere between $220 - $270 per student per week in Melbourne, Australia. Those fees cover all utility bills and food, which according to my estimation will average out to $50 per week. This is very real way to make money from possibly one of your biggest assets, your home. If you host two students, that will put you ahead quite a bit. If you host three, you will have a tidy sum............ I'll leave you to work it out :)


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The Disadvantages

We all agree that everyone is different. Each one has their own way of doing things. Not everyone gets along with each other, right? OK, now that we have established that, let me say that as foreign students homestay hosts and parents, we have to lay down the rules and discipline if rules are broken. It just gets a little complicated when you are a homestay parent and not their parent. But we do discipline anyway, it is the only way to keep the house functioning in everyone's best interest.

It is also somewhat difficult to plan for family holidays as we have the students live with us almost all year round except for the 7 weeks at the end of the year whereby they return home during the longer school holidays. We work around that by finding and enlisting other homestay families to host them for the period that we are not available to be at home for the students.

The other thing that initially was an issue (but no longer is) was that we found that we (my husband, two sons and I) did not have much time together as a family as these students were in our home pretty much the whole year - except for the 7 weeks away end of the year when they return to their home country. After some trial and error, we have overcome that with some decisions made over time :)



All in all, my family has all agreed that on the whole, we have had a pretty good time hosting these foreign students. There had been interesting, educational, fun, sometimes-not-so-fun times together.

Check out my other hub about our experiences regarding life as a homestay family.

Meanwhile, you take care. Keep smiling :)



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Meanwhile, you take care :)



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    • May PL profile image

      May PL 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      That's great, Josh and Lindsey. Hopefully you will find that it is worth your while. Doing this has helped loosen the chains that were holding us back financially. All the best. :)

    • profile image

      Josh and Lindsey 6 years ago from Indiana

      Great hub. I'll be looking into whether this can financially benefit me in the United States like it has you.

    • May PL profile image

      May PL 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Thanks for reading, prasetio30. It has been a really good experience for us. Do share this hub on with others who might benefit from this. Please look out for the hub regarding the issues we faced as homestay parents and how we overcame them over the next couple of days.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very inspiring hub. Thanks for share this valuable information. I learn much from you. Take care!

      Love and peace,