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Homestay is a popular form of tourism or study abroad that allows visitors to rent rooms from local families, often known as "Host Families". It is sometimes used by people who wish to improve their language skills, immerse in a particular culture or become familiar with the local lifestyle.[1]

Some countries encourage homestay as a means of developing their tourism industry.[2] Hosting a homestay participant allows the host family to earn an income, or at the very least ensure exenses are covered. Students seeking language immersion experiences tend to arrange a homestay with their school or educational institution, but they can informally arrange one through social connections and private agencies that connect students with hosts families, usually for a nominal fee.[3]

Homestays are a global form of tourism, often with undergraduates seeking gap years or semesters abroad. Homestays are popular in USA, Europe, Asia and South America. Students participating on homestays are subject to additional restrictions on holiday visas, particularly if there is the possibility of it being cultural exchange.


Homestay opportunities range from a complete family experience to basic room rental. The goal of a homestay is for the student to be immersed in their host's culture. The student may participate in family activities, including dining out, going to amusement parks, camping, and traveling. The visiting student may be expected to pay a portion of the activity-related costs, such as tickets, parking, gas and travel expenses.

Host families can play a pseudo-parental role, giving advice and sometimes supervising students' activities. In many homestays, families act as cross-cultural advisers, helping the students understand and adjust to their new culture.[4] In other homestays, students may simply rent a room within a private home, with minimal supervision from the host. In working homestay agreements, the student is expected to perform duties such as yard work, farm work, babysitting, or maid services.

Typical contracts and agreements[edit]

To minimize difficulties, most homestay arrangements involve a contract or written agreement between the host and the student. Verbal agreements may change contractual clauses depending upon developments after a stay has begun. A contract typically outlines what is expected of the host student and may include items such as chores to perform (e.g., cleaning, laundering), curfews, use of the Internet, television or telephone, and smoking, drinking, and drugs rules. Agreements may also lay out what is being provided by the host, such as accommodations, furniture, facilities, meal provisions, transportation, communications, and entertainment. Generally, a host must provide a private room with a lock for sleep and study and a washroom for the student to use. Most other items are negotiable in terms of availability and price.


Typically, hosting a student facilitates the exchange of cultures, information, and experience. However, studying abroad is often the student's first experience of being away from his or her parents and home country, to which they may have difficulty adjusting. The host must be able to help with separation issues, anxiety, and other difficulties. According to research, hosts and homestay students may exhibit mild symptoms of culture shock and must adjust accordingly.[4] Despite the potential difficulties, host families, including children, are able to learn about other cultures. Many host families stay in touch with their students long after they return to their home countries.[citation needed]

Occasionally, a host family or individual may be looking only to capitalize on the financial opportunity of a homestay arrangement and may have little or no concern for the interests of the other party.


  1. ^ Rivers, William P. (1998). "Is Being There Enough? The Effects of Homestay Placements on Language Gain During Study Abroad". Foreign Language Annals. 31 (4): 492–500. doi:10.1111/j.1944-9720.1998.tb00594.x. 
  2. ^ "Three Interesting Events On Selangor Tourism 2008 Itinerary". Malaysian National News Agency. 2008-05-16. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  3. ^ "Experience South America And Find The Perfect Homestay". Forbes, Inc. 2014-11-18. Retrieved 2013-11-30. 
  4. ^ a b "Homestay:Opening a World of Opportunity" (PDF). Australian International Education Conference. 2004-10-05. Retrieved 2013-10-05.