Skip to content

South Africa by Kaleigh Galko

Additional Resources

If you are planning ahead, you might want to consider living on campus or in CU’s Apartment Style Living the semester before your education abroad program. These housing options allow you to terminate your contract with no cancellation fees if you are attending an official CU education abroad program.

The Off-Campus Housing & Neighborhood Relations (OCH) office on campus is also a great resource for you. OCH maintains listings of rooms, houses, apartments, and roommate requests and provides Boulder maps, free copies of the Boulder Tenants' Guide, the Boulder Model Lease, subleasing agreements, furniture rental information, moving tips, renter's insurance and other materials related to living off campus.
If you are in a lease, you may want to advertise your housing to returning Education Abroad students, visiting international students, students transferring in to CU, and other CU students. Consider posting your sublet on Ralphie's List. To increase visibility, OCH recommends that in addition to listing on the sublet message board, you post your sublet as a property manager (for an additional fee) and it will appear on the main page of Ralphie’s List.  Spread the word among your friends, post on social media, and consider reputable third-party sites as well.
If you use websites like Airbnb or VRBO/HomeAway, it is not always possible to have confidence that you and your belongings will be secure and that you will be living in a safe and healthy environment. The fact that you may be in an unfamiliar city and culture can put you at even greater risk. 
If you determine that using these websites is your most viable option to find lodging while abroad, you should proceed with the highest caution for your safety and security.

When searching such sites for temporary lodging options, please follow these recommended guidelines*:
Before Booking
  • Consider booking through with an Airbnb Superhost, superhosts are known for great reviews and attention to detail (in limited markets only). 
  • Look for properties rented by Verified Hosts.  Airbnb vets and confirms their online identify (i.e., they are who they say they are). There is an enhanced risk when renting from unverified hosts (i.e., they may not be who they report to be on the site). 
  • Look for a history of positive reviews; avoid properties/hosts with no prior reviews. Not everyone will leave positive reviews for hosts, but sticking with properties that have a history of at least 10 positive reviews should ensure that the property is more likely to match the details provided online (i.e., the property is what they say it is). 
After Booking
  • Once you are given an address, take a close look at the neighborhood and surrounding community on the internet. Ask others in the community about the area; call a tourist bureau or similar agency, and seek any further resources for the same information. You can also contact ISOS and request a health & safety assessment of the area. If you have doubts about the location or concerns about the host’s reliability, trust your instincts and look for another alternative.
  • Before you meet a host identified through Airbnb or another application, look carefully at their posted reviews and references. If you schedule a meeting with the host, agree only to do so in a public place during daylight and if possible, take a friend with you to the initial meeting. If you agree to meet the host, make sure you have a charged cell phone and know or have programmed in your phone the emergency telephone number for local law enforcement response.
  • Let others know exactly where you’ll be staying - including the address and the host’s name and contact information. Tell someone you’ll check in with them about an hour after the scheduled meeting time to report that you’re safe and satisfied with circumstances.
 During Your Stay
  • On the day you are scheduled to check in, be sure to arrive during daylight hours; never arrive at your accommodation for the first time late at night (especially if you are alone).
  • Once you have arrived at the apartment or lodging, take a look around with safety and security in mind. Look in the closets and adjoining rooms. Make a quick mental note of how you might exit if there is a need. Be sure there is an internal lock on your bedroom door that cannot be opened with a key from the outside (e.g., it has a chain or bolt lock). Check for electronics, cameras, strange wires, etc. that seem out of place or that could be used for surveillance.
  • If you are not satisfied with the circumstances you find or something just doesn’t feel right - leave right away and find other lodging. Any extra money spent is worth the investment in your safety!
After Your Stay
  • If you have a poor experience, post a review to help others. If you have a positive experience, do the same!
  • Monitor your credit card bill for any unexpected/unapproved charges. Make sure to get a receipt for any services--especially if paying in cash.
Thank you to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Arizona State University for providing these tips.

You have informed us of your interest in pursuing independent housing during your time abroad.  By signing this waiver, you are indicating you understand and acknowledge the responsibilities and risks related to independent housing. Should you choose to find your own housing, you are solely responsible for the consequences of this decision, which may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Identifying possible housing options
  • Researching the security and safety of the housing, the neighborhood, and its location in the city
  • Knowing what is and is not included in the price
  • Contacting and negotiating the lease agreement with the housing representative
  • Securing dates and pricing for the housing and making timely payments
  • Understanding how the deposit works, including terms for the return of the deposit at the end of the lease
  • Finding the housing upon arrival
  • Working directly with the landlord or leasing agent regarding any problems
  • Working out any issues with roommates on your own
  • Adhering to building quiet hours; respecting roommates and other tenants in the building
  • Leaving the housing in good order at the end of the program
You understand and acknowledge there are certain dangers, hazards, and risks inherent in international travel and seeking your own housing abroad, and you agree the University of Colorado does not assume legal, financial, or other responsibility for any personal injuries or property damage or any other claims or liabilities related to your housing, and you indemnify and hold the University harmless therefrom.  Some possible risks of choosing independent housing include but are not limited to the following:
  • Lack of background/criminal check information related to other residents
  • Conflicts with roommates or other residents of the apartment building/housing
  • Lack of adherence to safety procedures or codes (i.e. potential lack of fire alarm or adequate fire escape options)
  • Lack of clear or formalized cost information
  • Lack of certified inspections for the apartment or building, including bedbug inspections
  • Lack of formal contract that could lead to misunderstandings or unexpected situations
  • Confusion about any possible financial deposits that may or may not be refunded to you
  • Financial liability according to terms of your lease agreement if you must depart your housing early for any reason, including program cancellation due to forces outside your control
  • Additional risks not identified here

You understand and acknowledge these risks and agree to assume full legal responsibility, and indemnify and hold harmless the University, for all such risks.
We will let your study abroad provider know that you have decided to secure your own housing, but you must still comply with the provider’s policies regarding independent housing, and take any necessary next steps they request of you by their stated deadlines.


Last Updated December 2023
Photo, South Africa by Kaleigh Galko