Boost your income by welcoming international students into your home
Do you have a spare bedroom in your home? You could boost your income by opening up your home to international students.
Students come to the UK from all over the world to learn English. They often choose homestay accommodation, so that they can get to know local people and practise their English.
Hosting students is a unique opportunity to meet people from other cultures. You could welcome a university student from Thailand to stay with you one month, and a lawyer from Mexico the next.
All hosts are different – single people, families with children, younger or older people, anyone who lives near an English language centre can welcome students.
There are English language centres all over the UK, in major cities, tourist destinations and many other towns and villages.
In this guide, we'll explain what is expected from homestay hosts, how much you could earn, and how you'll be supported by your local language school.
You're in control: you can choose when you want students to stay with you and what age range you are comfortable with.
Most students looking for a host are young adults or under 18s. They usually make short visits to study English for between two weeks and a few months.
What are the responsibilities of a homestay host?
Providing a warm welcome
As a host, you'll provide a home to a student while they're visiting the UK. When they arrive, you'll share information about the local area and help them plan travel to their school.
Depending on the age of the student and how many activities they have included in their programme, you may be asked to share evening meals with the student and spend time with them at the weekend.
Some adult students will be very independent, but they will still value having a friendly host as part of their experience in the UK.
Matching hosts and students
Your local school will give you a questionnaire or interview to help them match you with students that suit your lifestyle and home.
They are likely to ask about your household, your working hours, if you have pets, if you smoke etc.
They'll find suitable students who are likely to fit in well with your preferences and routine.
Sharing meals with your guest
Your local language school will offer different homestay packages to their students.
Some students will want a bed and breakfast package, others will want some evening meals (eg. three a week), and some will want full-board. In some cases, students will just want access to the kitchen to prepare their own food.
Hosting under 18s
If you'll be hosting students under 18 years old, the language centre will assess your suitability and a DBS check will be required.
Support from your school, 24/7
The accommodation staff at your local school will give you all the information and advice you need to successfully host students.
All British Council accredited centres will provide you with 24/7 support and a number you can call in an emergency.
You'll help your guests understand how to use any public transport they need to reach their school or other activities.
Accommodation staff from the language school will visit your home to make sure it's a suitable place for students to stay.
- a single or twin bedroom with space to study
- a warm and comfortable shared living space that the student can use
- access to a kitchen and washing machine
- Bed linen and towel
How much can you earn from hosting students?
Your weekly income as a host could be as much as £250 per student, depending primarily on where you live and the services you are asked to provide e.g. meals, private bathroom.
Your potential earnings per student will depend on your proximity to a language school and the quality of the accommodation you can provide. If you have the space, you can host up to four students at a time, in single or twin bedrooms.
Full board/half board
Some schools offer students a full-board homestay option which comes with a premium and means you would provide breakfast and dinner at home, and a packed lunch for the student to take to school.
The standard package usually requires you to provide breakfast food for the student and to cook and eat with them on most evenings of their stay.
Self-catering and bed & breakfast packages are also possible if you don't have time to cook for your guests.
Hosting more than one student
You may be able to host up to four students at a time, with the possibility of two students sharing a twin bedroom.
Hosting throughout the year
You'll be able to earn more if you are flexible about how long students can stay with you, as this will increase the number of weeks in the year that you can host.
The Rent a Room Scheme lets you earn up to a threshold of £7,500 per year tax-free from letting out furnished accommodation in your home. The tax exemption is automatic so you do not need to do anything.
If you earn more than this from letting your spare room you must complete a tax return.
> Visit GOV.UK for more information on the Rent a Room Scheme
How to find a local language school to work with
You can use the English UK member directory to find a language school near you.
All of our members are accredited by the British Council, so you can be sure that they adhere to high standards and will provide you with 24/7 support.
There are also a number of student accommodation agencies that recruit homestay hosts and provide this service for language schools.