What is Homestay?
Homestay is a cultural exchange between an individual or family of any cultural background (called a host) and a visiting international student (guest). A homestay allows an international guest the opportunity to stay in a warm, welcoming Australian household, rather than in an impersonal apartment, dorm, or hotel. It gives guests the opportunity to experience local culture and practice their English in a family setting.
Does AHN comply with any Homestay Standards?
AHN have been the industry leaders in homestay standards throughout Australia. In Australia, we’ve earned government commendation for raising the safety and standards of the industry as a whole.
We’re a little different than more direct, peer-to-peer services in that we provide a full service approach to homestay. That means that we know exactly who you are staying with and what their background is. It also means that you have our support 24 hours a day in case there is a problem or emergency. We also handle billing and most collection activities, so if there is a problem with your homestay, we will help you to fix it.
Our processes ensure we prepare you to have the best experience homestay can offer.
Click here for full details of the standards we adhere to.
How does homestay work?
When living in a homestay you will be provided with your own room, with a place to study and meals (if required), in a welcoming and friendly environment. Whilst living with your host family you will communicate and get to know each other. You will learn about the local area, community and customs. Your host family will also be eager to get to know you, learn about your family, country and culture.
What are the costs?
- Homestay matching fee: This fee is paid to AHN to confirm that a placement is required. It covers the cost of host training and assessment, and the work associated with the matching process. This fee is usually paid in conjunction with the initial weekly fee of 4 weeks:
- Weekly fees (normally 28 nights): Weekly fees will vary, depending on the level of service you choose for your homestay. We offer several packages for guests in homestay these include.
- Complete Homestay: host provides 3 meals, 7 days / week
- Traditional Homestay: host provides breakfast and dinner, Mon-Fri, 3 meals Sat-Sun
- Dinner-Only Homestay: host provides dinner only 7 days / week
- No-Meals Homestay: No meals provided by the host
PLEASE NOTE THAT BREAKFAST & LUCNCH CAN BE SELF PREPARED & SELF SERVED
Weekly fees cover:
- Utilities (*excluding internet)
- Emergency telephone support
- Administration fees
Weekly fees will vary according to state/city, find out what the weekly costs are across Australia by clicking here
*Internet charges are additional and dependent on each family, students may be charged up to AU$12.50 per week for internet, this is payable direct to their host.
For full fee details, please see our refund policy
How close will I live to my education provider?
This will depend on the city you are in as some cities are bigger than others, but the furthest you will be placed in a homestay is up to 1 hour on public transport. You may need to take a bus or train, or a combination of both. This will all be explained to you by your host when you arrive. Most hosts are happy to take the journey with you for the first time, to help you get familiar with the route. It is important to remember that the focus of living in a homestay is not about convenience but about the experience and support you have when living in a foreign country.
Does AHN accept students of all ages, in all types of programs?
We offer homestay to all types of students; high schools, universities, English colleges, TAFE and other private institutions. We accept both short and long term placements. Generally, we do not accept students under the age of 12 years unless travelling as part of a study tour (these will be reviewed on a case by case basis). All new students over 18 years old who are arriving for their first term of study are recommended to spend a minimum of 4 weeks in a properly managed AHN homestay prior to making longer term accommodation arrangements.
How do I apply?
What does the application process involve?
When you have lodged your application form, and confirmed your email address you will be assigned to your local AHN office. A staff member will be in contact with you with a welcome email and invoice. If you have any questions you can contact them.
When you decide to proceed with your application you will need to make payment of your invoice. It is now a good time to log back into your profile and make sure that any preferences and requirements are listed, along with your arrival details and intended start date for homestay.
Once we receive your payment we will begin looking for a suitable host for you. When we have a host family that matches your preferences we will send to you their summary and your confirmation email. The earlier you make payment the earlier we will be able to begin looking for your family.
What are my responsibilities?
When living in a homestay your responsibilities include helping with household chores, as required, and keeping your bedroom and bathroom clean and tidy. You need to show respect for others and follow the house rules outlined to you. You should keep an open mind and be willing to try new foods and experiences. It is important that you communicate with your host family, any issues can generally be resolved be speaking directly with them. Extra information regarding your responsibilities can be found in our Homestay Policy.
How long do I have to stay with my host?
The majority of our placements are initially for 28 nights. Some students decide to extend, whilst others choose to move into their own accommodation. If you wish to extend you will need to make payment of your continuing invoice (this will be emailed to you 14 days before the end date of your paid placement). Once we receive your payment we will extend your placement accordingly.
All students must notify their host and local AHN office that they will be departing from their homestay at least 14 days beforehand. If 14 days notice is not given you will need to pay any fees due to honour the notice period. More information regarding departure and payments can be found in our AHN Refund Policy.
What support does AHN offer?
When you register with AHN you will have access to our 24/7 emergency contact centre. They will assist you with any urgent emergency issues you may have, including interpreter services. You will also have the support of your dedicated AHN office and our experienced team during business hours. Please see our Homestay Policy for more information.
What do I call my host?
Ask your host what they prefer to be called. Some hosts prefer to be called by their given name, whilst others may suggest you call them mum/dad.
Where do I store my dirty laundry & how do I wash my clothes?
This will be different in each homestay, it is important that you speak with your host to clarify laundry rules and to avoid any issues. Ask your host where they would prefer you keep your dirty clothes. Some may prefer you keep in in a basket in your room, while others may ask you to place it in a basket elsewhere in the house. Some hosts will ask that you do your own washing, they will educate you on how to operate the washing machine. Other hosts will prefer to do your washing for you.
I do not know how to iron my clothes, what should I do?
Ask your host to show you where the iron is located and how to operate it. Your host will be able to give you some guidance on how to iron clothes. YouTube will also offer some handy tips.
For how long can I shower? Can I take a bath?
As water bills can be quite expensive in Australia and because of drought conditions in some cities, we request that you take showers for no longer than 4-5 minutes.
Some households do not have a bath or do not use it, others will frequently use theirs. It is best to ask your host if you can use the bath, if there is one. If you can use the bath, it is wise to try and limit the amount of water used. If your host prefers that you do not use the bath you will need to respect this request.
My host has said I do not need to help with washing up after meals, is there anything else I should do?
There are other ways you could help. You may be able to take out the rubbish, wipe down the table, or even prepare the table before the meal. It is always better to offer to help than not do anything.
My host said I should ‘help myself’, what does that mean?
This means that you may take something (a piece of food, or maybe a tissue) without asking.
What does mealtime mean?
This is referring to the time that a specific meal will be served in the home.
Can I put pictures and posters on the wall in my bedroom?
You will need to ask your host if this is okay. If your host is okay with you personalising your room please make sure that nothing is permanently fixed. Only use temporary adhesives.
What is the custom when it is a member of my host family’s birthday?
It is common to wish the person a happy birthday when you first see them for the day. Some people also like to give them a card and/or a gift. This is not expected or necessary when you are living in a homestay.
Are there rooms in my homestay that I am not able to enter into?
Bedrooms in the home are regarded as private areas. You should only enter if you are invited, it is always best to knock first. Common areas, such as the lounge room, are not normally private, and can be enjoyed by everyone in the home.
Where should I store my luggage?
Your room may have space for you to keep your luggage, such as underneath the bed or in the wardrobe. There may also be space available in the household garage, or shed. It is best to speak to your host, they will be able to assist you.
What are the rules around internet usage?
It is best to speak with you host about the use of internet. Different families have different internet packages. Some may have limited data available, while others will have unlimited data. Before downloading or streaming content you should be aware of any limitations.
Am I allowed to bring alcohol into my homestay?
You will need to ask permission from your host first. Some families will be okay with this request, others may not. You will need to respect their preferences either way. You will need to also obey local drinking laws, including the minimum drinking age of 18.
What time do I need to turn down my music, finish making phone calls or stop talking on Skype?
Curfew and quiet times need to be discussed with your host, each family is different. Generally noise after 10:00pm is not appreciated. You may need to negotiate call times if you a contacting family and friends back home. Always refer to your house rules that are given to you by your host at the start of your visit.
I prefer to stay up late studying when my host family are asleep, is this okay?
If you prefer to stay up late in your room, this is okay, as long as you are quiet. No one appreciates being kept awake at night. Everyone has different sleep and study patterns, you need to work out what works best with your host.
Do I need to inform my host if I am leaving the home?
Yes, it is polite to inform your host that you will be heading outside and when you intend to return. You need to inform your host if you will not be home for any meals, and if you intend on staying out overnight. If you are under the age of 18 you need to be home for dinner each night, and are not allowed to stay out overnight.
Am I allowed to invite guests into my homestay?
You will need to ask your host if they are happy for you to have guests in their home. Some hosts are okay with you having guests over, as long as you inform then with ample notice. Others will ask that you do not have guests over, and meet them outside, away from the home.
My host has not given me a key to the house because of the security system, what should I do?
Please contact your local AHN office during work hours to discuss this issue.
If I lose my key what should I do?
You will need to inform your host as soon as you realise your key is missing. You may need to cover any costs associated with losing the key. Contact your local AHN office if this occurs and they will be able to assist you.