Accommodation for international students

Organising accommodation is one of the most important things to do before arriving in New Zealand.

Updated 5 April 2019

When to organise accommodation

It is best to organise accommodation before travelling to Christchurch so you know you have somewhere to stay when you arrive, whether it is a hall of residence, homestay, or temporary accommodation while you look for a private rental.  The New Zealand Ready website provides useful information when preparing for your stay in New Zealand. 

We recommend you apply for accommodation as soon as you accept your offer to study at UC.

Halls of residence 

Ease your transition to New Zealand life by living in the Halls of residence.  UC has agreements with specialist accommodation providers to manage all aspects of your accommodation experience.  Your contract is directly with your hall of residence. 

There are a range of accommodation options for first year through to PhD students:

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Key dates

There are key dates to be aware of if you are interested in living on campus.  Applications open on 1 August for accommodation starting in February the following year.  The key dates for 2024 are outlined on our Halls of residence webpage.


Halls of residence range in costs depending on whether you are self-catered or fully-catered.  

A first year student is a school leaver generally 17-19 years of age. First year students 20+ are recommended to apply for Ilam Student Accommodation.  For contracts dates and rates, please refer to the comparison charts below:

Refer to UC IT Services for assistance with internet access.

Accommodation for study abroad or exchange students

If you are on an official Study Abroad or Exchange programme, an offer of place is guaranteed at Ilam Student Accommodation providing your application is received by the due dates.  This is the easiest option as you can arrange your accommodation before you arrive and flat with Kiwi students on campus. Due to demand for 2023 accommodation, students may be offered Sonoda Christchurch Campus.

Accommodation for UC International College (UCIC) students

Ilam Student Accommodation offers independent apartment-style living with the bonus of living on-campus in a supportive community and are ideal for individual students over 18 years of age. You will have your own fully-furnished room and share a kitchen, bathroom, living and laundry facilities.  The apartments are home to students of all ages, at all levels of study, and from all over the world.  Accommodation is offered in a Hīnau 3-5 bedroom apartment. Further information is available on our UCIC webpage.  Due to demand for 2023 accommodation, students may be offered an alternative apartment type at Ilam Student Accommodation, or Sonoda Christchurch Campus

Accommodation for postgraduate students

For postgraduate students arriving outside standard semester dates (January-June or July-December), UC offers a Postgraduate Flexi Start that will enable the hall to adjust the start date of your contract to align with your arrival date.  Further information is available on our Postgraduate Students webpage.  Due to demand for 2023 accommodation, rooms are dependent on availability.

Arriving in Christchurch

The UC campus is approximately 10 minutes' drive from Christchurch International Airport.  Options for transport to campus include the Purple Line Bus, UberNZ Look Shuttles, or Taxis and Shuttles. A taxi stand is located outside the International Terminal.

The halls of residence are located 2-15 minutes' walk away from campus facilities.  


Ensure your accommodation provider is expecting you.  Each hall of residence will have specific check-in times.  Temporary accommodation may be required depending on your flight arrival time.

Homestay and private board

Homestay and private board are popular choices with international, UCIC, and study abroad and exchange students when they first arrive in Christchurch. In a welcoming family environment, you will have your own room, meals with the family and the opportunity to practice your English every day.

Find out more about homestay and private board.

If you are under 18 when you start studying at UC, you are required to live in homestay accommodation, in a fully-catered hall of residence or with a designated caregiver until your 18th birthday. This is a requirement under the Education (Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners) Code of Practice 2021 which came into effect on 1 January 2022.  Refer to our Pastoral Care webpage for further information.

Renting privately

If you are bringing your partner or family with you, or you are staying for less than a semester, then you will need to consider alternative options off campus, for example:

Please refer to our webpage for Couples and Families.

Market rent in Christchurch is found on the Tenancy Services website and will give you an idea of what you can expect to pay.  Please note that these rates do not differentiate between furnished or unfurnished or the condition of the room or property.  

If moving into an empty property, you will need to factor in set up costs into your budget:

  • up to 4 weeks' rent as bond
  • 1-2 weeks' rent in advance
  • power and internet
  • furniture and/or white ware (if unfurnished)
  • contents and liability insurance

You also need to budget for ongoing monthly expenses such as power, internet, transport, food and personal items.  Refer to or for cost of living information.  

Do not sign a contract or agreement without viewing a property personally, therefore, we recommend that you arrange temporary accommodation for when you first arrive in Christchurch to enable you time to find a property that you will be happy in.  For families, we recommend arriving on your own first as temporary accommodation can be booked on campus at Sonoda Christchurch Campus while you find a suitable house to enable your family to join you. Temporary accommodation for a family can be very expensive. 

More information

Contact Accommodation Services/Te Ratonga Nohonga for more information and advice.