Thinking of living in Homestay?

If you are an international  student, and want to apply to the Homestay Program NOW, click on the link Application Process.

What is Homestay?

Homestay is a program designed to promote friendship, language learning and provide opportunities for cultural exchange between Canadians and international students who attend Vancouver Island University or the High School at VIU. Local residents open their homes to students, so they may experience friendship across cultures. Many life-long friendships have developed from these homestay experiences. In fact, many host families have traveled to their students' countries for weddings and visits.

Important: Please consider living with a Canadian family only if you are serious about wanting to challenge yourself in this way. Canada is country of immigrants from other countries, who bring their cultures and experiences with them. Host families are from a variety of racial and religious backgrounds.

Benefits of living in Homestay  with a Canadian family

Living with a Canadian family means you have a support system to help you adjust to your new environment. Hosts will be happy to help you get a bank account (in your name only), show you how to use the bus system and community centers, and treat you like part of the family. Use the opportunity to practice your English, ask questions about homework, do activities with your host family. Living with a homestay family means that you will have to put effort into the relationship, but like all relationships, the more you put in, the more reward you receive. Many students find that their Canadian host family becomes like a second family, their life-long, "Canadian family".

 Student Responsibilities 

  1. Become familiar with, understand and follow the routines of the Homestay family. Hosts should provide a written set of house rules which they will review with students. Please ask questions so you understand the hosts expectations.
  2. Discuss any food preferences or needs with the hosts so they can understand what you need to feel comfortable.
    Canadian food is probably different from what you are used to eating in your country. Try to adapt to a Canadian diet because it is part of the learning experience. If there are foods that only you eat, you should purchase for them yourself.
  3. Always tell the hosts if you will be away overnight and leave a telephone number where you can be contacted. Tell them when you will be home.
  4. Always tell your hosts if you will not be home for the evening meal, or if you will be arriving home late in the evening. Host families worry about students, just like your own family. Be considerate of this.
  5. Always leave your hosts a telephone number in case of emergency.
    Canadians are offended, worried and may become angry if you ignore these practices. Family members call if they are going to be late coming home or will not be home for a meal.
  6. Ask the hosts before inviting guests to the home.You are welcome to have friends visit you at the home but, you must always ask your hosts before inviting your friends over. If you have family or friends that visit you and wish to stay with you at your host family home, they should pay the same nightly rate to the host that you pay. This arrangement MUST be planned with the host family in advance and the visitors should not stay at the host’s home for more that 5 nights. The Homestay family is NOT obligated to host your family and/or friends.
  7. Absolutely no use of drugs, alcohol or any sexual activity in the host’s home. Using drugs or alcohol, or having sexual relations in the home are not permitted.
  8. Clean your own room and bathroom, after you use it.  Help the hosts wash the dishes after the evening meal or clean up after yourself after you have prepare a snack. Learn to wash your own laundry, change your bed sheets regularly and learn to prepare your own breakfast and lunch.

Living with another international student in the Homestay 

More than one student may be in the same homestay. The Homestay office tries not to place students of the same language group. The maximum number of students in the same homestay family is normally two, unless there is an emergency which requires otherwise.



Deposit (refundable) = $850(Applicable to Homestay students)

Homestay = $850/month and $29/night (includes food for three meals a day)

Students can apply for "Homestay without meals" option (meaning that the student needs to provide food for meals). Homestay without meals = $500 and $17/night. See application for details.

Homestay fees are payable on the first day of each month.

Click HERE for more information on Fees

*Fees are subject to change


Matching a host family and a student is done with much care and thought. We consider the host availability, activities/hobbies and interests of the host and student, if there are any medical concerns (allergies), whether there are children in the home, or if smoking is an issue. The more accurate the information provided on the Student Profile, the better the host/student match will be.

Please note that Vancouver Island University cannot guarantee that all student personal preferences will be met

Please note that Canada is a multicultural society which values and respects the diversity of all Canadians. Many different kinds of Canadian families participate in the Homestay Program. Many Canadians speak other languages and are immigrants themselves, but English must be the primary spoken language in the home.

Language in the home – students and hosts

Many host families in Canada speak languages other than English. It is both policy and practice that host families speak ONLY ENGLISH to students. It is our policy that families should use English as the primary language in the home.


Living with a Canadian family has many challenges. When you arrive, everything will be new: food , school , friends, family, social expectations, gender roles, communication styles, pace of life, and much more. Living with a Canadian family means that you have someone to help you through this very difficult time, but you have to put in effort as well. Ask questions, try new things, new foods, new ways to doing things. The first semester (4 months) is usually the most difficult, so prepare yourself! You will feel good, bad, homesick, frustrated, angry, sad, and then happy again. This stressful situation is called "culture shock". Some students find this extremely difficult. It's a time when they cannot sleep, they eat too much or can't eat at all. Other student want to hide in their rooms or simply leave Canada. These feelings will pass. These feelings are normal, so you can expect them in varying intensities. Everyone experiences culture shock differently. Most importantly, speak with someone about how you are feeling and stay active. Talk about how you feel with your host family, your teacher(s), any staff member or visit the Homestay office. We have all had these same experiences and can help.