The number of international college students studying in the United States surpassed 1 million for the first time ever during the last academic year, according to the Open Doors newly released report. A large reason for the banner year in 2015-2016? Colleges and universities are courting more foreign students because they provide worldwide perspectives in the classroom and on campus — which, in turn, helps prepare domestic students for an increasingly globalized economy. Also, the added tuition revenue helps temper costs for in-state students.
We only point to these benefits that schools are enjoying because you could experience the same ones by opening the doors of your home to this growing international student population. Instead of cross-cultural discussions in the classroom, you could have one-on-one conversations with a student, at say, the dinner table, gaining a new perspective on international affairs. And the economic benefit? The extra rental revenue you pull in can help you pay your mortgage or perhaps go towards that home renovation project you’ve been aspiring to do.
As the population of international students grows at local colleges and universities, here’s 8 compelling reasons to rent to international students.
- You can learn about another culture: The cross-cultural exchanges that happen when you live with an international student can be phenomenal. Maybe it’s an international story headlining your newspaper that organically spurs an intellectual conversation over breakfast. Or, perhaps you can take turns cooking dinner for one another, learning about local cuisines. (Go ahead, cue the laughter when your new housemate realizes McDonald’s isn’t synonymous with American cuisine and you discover that, say, the food court Chinese restaurant you’ve been going to for years isn’t actually all that authentic). Or, swapping stories about holiday traditions or family dynamics can help engage your curiosity. Simply put, learning about another culture and exchanging viewpoints makes you a more well-rounded, educated and interesting person — which is like a personality hat trick.
- You can foster understanding: Achieving world peace is a lofty goal for one person. (Sorry, pageant contestants!) But a good place to start is by developing a mutual respect for another person and better understanding their culture. Learning about other cultures helps you move outside of your established “comfort zone” so that you can embrace new ways of thinking. By sharing a living space with an international student, you’re also bound to find some common, universal ties.
- You can learn a new language: Boost your brainpower! Learning a new language can help you become a better multi-tasker, sharpen your memory, and even improve decision-making, various scientific studies have found. What better way to learn a new language than to engage in conversations with your housemate? By the time you make it to Madrid for that dream vacation, your Spanish will be muy bien.
- Teach a new language: Your roommate has probably aced English as a Second Language exams and studied up on our language before arriving in the United States. Still, there’s words and nuances in our language that aren’t likely popping up in textbooks, and it’s fun to try to explain some of the words we’ve adopted into the English language and that are even candidates for the dictionary. Do your new roomie a favor and explain hangry is a hybrid of hungry and angry and that YOLO translates to “You Only Live Once.”
- Earn some extra money: If you own a home near a college or university, chances are that extra bedroom you have could be making you big bucks Case in point: HomeUnion, an online real estate investment management firm, found that rent within a two-mile radius of a university’s campus compared to the metro area’s market-rate rent is significantly higher. The August 2016 analysis, for example, found that rentals near the University of California, Los Angeles for example are a whopping 80 percent above the market average. Rentals near Stanford University are 63 percent above the Palo Alto market average and renters living near Harvard University pay 44 percent higher than the market average in Cambridge. It’s a trend that plays out in college towns across the country. Even if you live a little further from a college, you could appeal to students who are on a tighter budget.
- Develop lifelong friendships: Empty nester? Full nest still? Simply looking for a roommate? Living with someone creates a special bond and can lead to a lifetime friendship. Remember how exciting it was to have a pen pal when you were in grade school? Now, with social media, email and FaceTime, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with friends when they move across the world. And, sometimes globetrotting halfway around the world to visit an old pal is just the motivation you need to cross a country off your bucket list.
- You can travel the world from home: Your wanderlust could fuel a spin around the world for nine months, the equivalent of an academic year. Your budget, however, might not be able to travel as far. But opening up your home to international students is a way to expand your worldviews, just like you would traveling.
- You’ll likely attract some top-notch renters: You’ve seen Animal House. (Or, for this generation of movie-goers, Neighbors starring funny guy Seth Rogen). That party-hard stereotype of college students may have dissuaded you from renting to college students in the past. But here’s the thing: Students traveling halfway around the world and paying high tuition rates (some universities have a third tier of tuition above that of out-of-state rates) are likely to be highly invested in their education. (Read: less partying, more studying, and using downtime to absorb their cultural and recreational surroundings). The vast majority of international students — 75,065 — are enrolled in rigorous Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM) fields, according to the annual Open Doors report put out by the Institute of International Education.