AHN House Rules Blog

AHN House Rules
A solid foundation for a successful homestay and establishing an understanding between you and your guests

Welcoming an international student into your home is a fantastic cultural exchange and experience for everyone involved.

During the homestay it’s important that the guest feels comfortable in their new environment and you remain relaxed in your own home. AHN developed our House Rules to help aid this process. These guidelines are adaptable for each homestay host and guest. They are very useful in building a solid foundation for a successful homestay and establishing an understanding between you and your guests.

It’s great to see the AHN community come together in our online Forum and Facebook Host Discussion group to help new or even some seasoned hosts with questions and advice to some of the unique challenges that come with homestay. These forums also provide us with some great feedback on the house rules and how we can continue to improve them.

Below you’ll find some of our most-discussed house rules and tips we have for navigating them. Don’t forget you can download a customisable copy of our house rules here on our website.

Staying in contact in Australia

  • We ask all guests to use their mobile phone or purchase a pre-paid phone card while they are in Australia. This can then be used to contact you as well as their family back home.
  • Exchanging email addresses with your guest is also a great way to keep in touch.
  • Determining the best method of communication early on can help reduce any stress in the future. Do you/they prefer text messages? Facebook Messenger? What are the best times to speak with each other when you aren’t at home together?

Privacy

  • When you’re sharing a home, it’s important everyone respects each other’s private time and space.
  • Remember to keep bedroom and bathroom/toilet doors closed and if there is a lock to always use it.
  • We tell all guests to knock before entering a room, especially any private use areas (bedrooms and bathrooms).

Guest rooms

At minimum, we ask guests to:

  • Keep their room clean and tidy.
  • Do not cook or keep food in their room.
  • Do not leave any wet clothing or towels in their room.
  • Ask their host first before sticking anything to the walls or moving furniture.
  • Ask their homestay family if they need extra blankets if they are cold or a fan if they are hot.

Water usage – Water restrictions

  • We remind guests that water is expensive, and its use is restricted in Australia.
  • We ask all our guests to help save water by keeping showers to a 5-8minute limit and turning off the water whilst they brush their teeth.
  • Some hosts have invested in shower timers to help maintain consistency with water use.

Meals

We have a lot of feedback about guests and their eating habits.

  • Managing fussy eaters and/or special dietary requirements can be difficult. Read our post about how to overcome the challenge of common food issues.
  • A lot of hosts will have self-serve options for breakfast, such as toast and cereals.
  • For lunch, last night’s leftovers are always a hit or you could provide sandwiches, fruit and or muesli bars.
  • Hosts are not required to provide snacks and food outside mealtimes, however, some hosts will set up snack bowls in their fridge or on the kitchen bench with fruit and muesli bars that a guest can just grab and go.
  • Dinner is a great time to discuss what has happened during the day and for guests to practice their English in an informal setting.
  • Hosts should remember that a lot of guest will likely wish to have some rice or noodles with their meals, particularly at dinner
  • AHN does its best during the placement stage to match dietary requirements with host families, but it’s still important for guest and host to discuss meals and mealtimes so everyone is on the same page.
  • Mealtimes are a great occasion to encourage your guest to share flavours from their home country. Perhaps it’s a special mayonnaise they like with veggies or a condiment with meat. Whilst you are not expected to purchase specialty items, the guest might wish to purchase this to have with them during their stay.
  • Here are some ideas for tasty meals on a budget.

Internet

  • Guests are encouraged to ask their host how this works in their home.
  • The internet is for study purposes NOT for downloading music, TV shows, movies or playing games as this may exceed the household limit.
  • Guests are always welcome to purchase their own data to utilise for this type of viewing. Please explain to your guest that they can buy prepaid Wi-Fi USBs (dongles) and data from the supermarket.
  • You have the right to turn the internet off at night and back on the next morning at a time which suits you.

Through all the feedback we hear from both guests and hosts we have found that above everything else, the key to a happy homestay experience is open communication. Your local AHN office is always here to help, so please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need anything.

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