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Frequently asked questions about Homestay accommodation

Will I be met at Dunedin airport when I first arrive?

Yes, if you have provided the Accommodation Office with your arrival details. Your host family will meet you upon your arrival at Dunedin airport / bus station. If you have decided to live in a residential college, flat, studio or private hostel accommodation, you will need to take a shuttle or a taxi. Please ensure that you have money to pay the driver. Emergency contact numbers are on your letter of introduction to your host family should you need them.

Can I use the internet in my homestay?

Yes, the internet is available for you in a homestay. Your host family will provide you with the password. There is no charge for internet in homestay, however usage should only be until 11pm each evening (in particular Skype), to allow others in the household a quiet time for sleep.

Will I live near the University?

Most Homestay accommodation is within a 20 minute bus ride to the University area. Traveling around Dunedin is generally very fast and easy.

Will I get breakfast, lunch and dinner in homestay?

You will be provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. You will be required to make your own breakfast (ingredients are provided) and there is an expectation to adjust to New Zealand foods. Students should provide their own snacks in a homestay. All homestay students must let their hosts know by 4pm if they do not require dinner in the evening.

Will my room have heating?

Many homes in New Zealand are not air conditioned and do not have central heating, particularly older style homes. The main areas of the home are normally heated by electricity or wood burners. Heaters are provided in the bedroom and must be turned off when you leave the room and should never be left on overnight. Heating in the bedroom has a limit of 5 hours per day for usage as the cost of electricity is very expensive in New Zealand. The host family will provide you with suitable bedding to ensure you are warm.

Will there be locks on the doors?

Most New Zealand homes do not have locks on the internal doors. This is because of fire risk and the safety of all people in the household. However, there will be locks on bathroom and toilet doors in most homes. If a door is closed then you should knock before entering.

Can I have visitors come to the home?

Sometimes students will travel to New Zealand with their parents. Homestay hosts will usually be happy to meet the parents and let them accompany you to the home on the first day, but they should be informed well in advance. Students need to have time to get to know their host family and settle in to New Zealand life, therefore it is best if the parents do not stay long.

Many host families will not have room for additional guests, so other arrangements must be made for parents or relatives. You can feel free to invite your friends over at times but always ask the host family in advance. The important thing to remember at all times is that homestay is a private home and should not be treated like a hotel.

Are students expected to assist with chores around the house?

There is an expectation to help with the dishes after a meal and to keep your bedroom tidy. If you make a mess you will be expected to clean it up, e.g. in the kitchen or bathroom in particular. As a part of a Kiwi household, this is the expectation for students from all cultures.

If I want to change homestay how can I do that?

You should speak to the Accommodation Co-ordinator first. You will need to provide one week's notice if you wish to change.

What is "flatting"?

Flatting means that you share a house with other people. They are called flat mates. You share the cost of the rent, food, electricity and telephone and/or internet charges. Houses are owned by landlords.

You can find a house (flat) by:

  • Visiting the University of Otago Accommodation Office for a list of houses to rent
  • Looking in the Saturday edition of the Otago Daily Times newspaper
  • Visiting a real estate agent

English Language Centre and Foundation Year staff do NOT assess or inspect private flats.

Do I need to sign a contract?

You should be aware that once you have signed an accommodation contract with a privately owned hostel or flat, you are bound by that contract. There are financial penalties if you change your mind after signing the accommodation contract.

How much money do I need to live in New Zealand?

In order to live comfortably while you are in Dunedin, you will need to have about $NZ 12,000 - $NZ 15,000 per year available for living costs, above the cost of your tuition.

You will receive advice from Student Support during orientation on how best to handle your money.

It is important that you have some New Zealand cash for immediate costs (eg airport costs or transport). There are foreign exchange offices at the international terminals of each New Zealand airport.We strongly recommend that while in New Zealand you do not carry large amounts of cash on your person or leave cash in your room.

We suggest opening a bank account as soon as possible after arrival. There are three banks with branches in the campus area: the Bank of New Zealand, ANZ Bank and Westpac and there are numerous automatic teller machines that dispense cash 24 hours a day.

You can also purchase goods using EFTPOS (cash card) at nearly all retailers. Any major amounts of money may be sent in the form of a bank draft, but electronic transfers are, in most cases, the most efficient method of sending funds to New Zealand.

Overseas cheques are sometimes difficult to clear and are not recommended.

What happens if I want to take a holiday while I am living in a homestay?

If your holiday is more than 21 nights or longer then you may apply for a holiday rate to hold your room. The price is reduced substantially during this period and this means you can return to the same homestay. Your room is held for you and your belongings can be left there for your return.