There's a battle waging between traditional acommodation providers and home sharing network, Airbnb.
Hotels are losing their share of travelers, particularly younger generations looking for more affordable and experiential places to stay, to the short-term rental startup which has now grown to hold more than four million listings worldwide.
Another slice of the market is being disrupted by this "rare profitable unicorn", too: student accommodation.
Not a level of cosy you'll find in dorms or halls. Source: Airbnb
As students, it's hard not to fall for what the service offers. It's affordable, especially if hosts in your university area offer discounts for longer-term stay, in addition to letting you keep your dates flexible - a welcome feature for those on shorter study courses. Living spaces are more personalised than the traditional, cookie-cutter student halls or dorms. There are also reviews which can be particularly valuable for the student coming from abroad, giving them a sense of what their new home will be like and what they need to prepare for.
But with so many options - there are over 300 homes listed for a one-month stay in Sydney - how do you choose? And what about all those risks that come with renting an Airbnb, like selecting a long-term space in a neighbourhood that just isn't "you", or contributing to an area's gentrification or worse, getting stuck with a host you really dislike.
We spoke to Amanda Chaang, Airbnb's Kuala Lumpur consultant, for her top tips on how international students can find the most suitable Airbnb for their studies abroad.
1. Test it out
The service's flexibility is a key defining feature that sets it apart from traditional student housing. Unlike halls or off-campus private housing, which asks for students to commit to stays up to a year long without being able to view or experience a place first, Airbnb users can customise the dates and length of their stay.
"Doing short-term stays in various neighbourhoods is one of the things that allows people to determine whether the place is suitable for them before signing a longer-term lease," Chaang explained.
2. Choose entire places if possible
A top perk of an Airbnb lies in its provision of the entire home. This means the usual amenities that make a place familiar, like the kitchen and dining room, come as part of each listing and are available for travelers to use throughout their stay, even if they're just renting a room.
Having a kitchen and dining room at your disposal comes in handy for family visits. Source: Airbnb
This can be helpful when families visit, Chaang said, as many international students have families who stay for around a week or more.
"Hence, staying in a house will be easier when it comes to spending time together as a family, as there is additional space and amenities available such as living room, dining room, and kitchen," she said.
3. Check out Airbnb Experiences
One of the newer additions on the site, Airbnb Experiences refers to activities designed and led by inspiring locals. Instead of searching for homes, users can choose from activities like tours or classes that immerse them in their host's unique world.
It's a good way to discover a new city, according to Chaang. This can provide insight on which locality or neighbourhood suits them best based on local activities on offer.
"For example, an individual who just moved to Melbourne for studies would be able to sign up for the Melbourne Vegan and Vegetarian Tour on Airbnb Experiences to find out where the great healthy places to dine are located, or explore the hidden gems of Melbourne on the Real Melbourne Bike Tour," Chaang explained.