It may seem obvious to some people, but not everyone is aware of what a Homestay and a host family actually are. Do you know? Whether you are or aren’t fully aware or simply have no clue, this blog answers these two questions! So here you go!
We will look at what advantages and disadvantages there might be when living with friendly hosts in homestay accommodation. Furthermore, the team here at Host Family Stay have listed some essential do’s and don’ts that will help if you are already considering living with a host family during your exciting time abroad. Enjoy.
What is a host family?
Host families are friendly people who create lovely Homestay experiences for groups of students and individuals who want to live as locals during their time abroad. They are the people who welcome you into their family and invite you to live in their home. The families can be both large and small and have different cultural backgrounds reflecting London’s diversity. All host families have been carefully selected by the Host Family Stay team in order to make your stay in London as safe and enjoyable as possible.
More about Homestay
To begin with, let’s look at two definitions that describe a “homestay”:
Living with locals - is that it? Of course not, there’s much more to it!
What makes Host Family Stay’s homestays unique is that each homestay is customised to match your individual needs and preferences, all of which you will be asked at the beginning. All homes are quality checked before your arrival, securing you a safe environment to live in.
The accommodation provided is not just a room, the goal is to create an unforgettable experience for you and the hosts.
- You’ll save money - homestay accommodation is cheaper than renting in London and there are no hidden extras. Plus, you get access to a lot of facilities in your homestay at no extra cost. Ultimately, this means you will have more money to spend on exploring London and doing all the things you want to do!
- From the moment you step into your new home, you will be guaranteed to experience genuine cultural differences and improve your language skills to perfection. Your host family might seem like complete strangers at the beginning of your stay, but you will soon feel more than welcome, and more importantly, safe in your new home.
- When living in a homestay accommodation you won’t have to do any household chores, apart from maybe doing your laundry once in a while. You can truly enjoy your spare time when you are out and about or when you’re just relaxing in your home without worrying about mopping the floor, hoovering or taking out the rubbish.
- You can choose what meal options you’d prefer during your stay. Host Family Stay offers self-catering, bed & breakfast, half board and even full board with your own specified meal preferences. Dietary preferences are important to state, especially if you are vegan, vegetarian or something else! We will customise your meal plans to make them convenient and desirable while enabling you to make the most of your time overseas.
- By socialising with your host family you will gain priceless local knowledge, recommendations and advice on amazing restaurants, quirky pubs, mind blowing attractions and much more, (you will not hear this from your tour guide). Insider tips will also enable you to explore all the non-touristy, hidden and “rare” must-go-to places!
- By staying in homestay accommodation you are choosing the cheapest accommodation option there is on the market, given how expensive London is for most tourists. Although this sounds great you’re probably thinking ‘what’s the catch then?’, right? Do not worry! The rooms you are staying in are quality checked by Host Family Stay before you move in - this is all done to ensure that you are satisfied with your chosen accommodation.
- Living with a host family might mean less privacy than you would have had if you were living in your own flat, but honestly, who can really afford that?
- As you might know from your own family, there are rules to follow. When staying in a homestay you are expected to respect and follow all household rules set by your host family and to stick to them.
- Along with your friends staying in other homestays, you might think you have less of a chance to socialize compared to if you were living in a shared flat with friendly flatmates. This is not the case, ask your host family in good time for permission for your friends to visit you and don’t forget to socialise with your host family!
- Eating what your host family cooks might be a challenge for you - whether they’re awful cooks or what they cook might not be what you’d expect from the local cuisine - you’ll either love it or hate it. Be sure to be open to new things and give it a try at least - you don’t want to seem rude to your host family and they will appreciate that you’re open to new experiences!
- Respect and be polite to your host family - this is very important if you want a good relationship with all members of the family!
- Mention what foods you dislike or are allergic to - but never state you don’t like something before you’ve tried it! :)
- Socialize with your new family - get to know them, hang out with them and you’ll feel more at home in your new home
- Bring a gift from your home country - your host family would love the thought behind a traditional gift
- Do try to get out and about - explore the neighbourhood and importantly, don’t isolate yourself in your room 24/7
- Try and make local friends - it is always good and important to have people apart from your host family that you can talk to and socialise with
- Don’t have unrealistic expectations of the homestay experience - your host family aren’t servants and they don’t work for you! Some families expect you to do your own laundry, so be polite and accept that you might have to do this yourself.
- Don’t be extremely loud. Respect the people in your homestay and be nice to your neighbours.
- Don’t do any drugs, both UK laws and sentencing can be harsh. You not only put yourself in a potentially bad position, but your host family could also get into trouble!
- Don’t be afraid of your host family - they are here for you and when you feel comfortable talking with them in their language you will bond and gain a great deal from this experience.
Host Family Stay team hopes you know a little bit more about homestay and host families now! If you’re already considering or have decided to find a homestay and you are still uncertain about a few things you can check out our find a homestay page or our FAQ for guests page. We are here to help you with any additional questions too, so please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Published on 11th January 2017
Updated on 2nd July 2020