Making a Home in off-campus housing: Learning from international student families

Principal Investigator: Dr. Alkim Karaagac, University of Waterloo, Department of Geography

Co-Investigator: Dr. Nancy Worth, University of Waterloo, Department of Geography

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Get Involved

Make a Home research project wants to learn from international student families about their experiences of off-campus housing, stories of homemaking and caregiving, and what it means to be a student-parent-newcomer in Canada.

If you are an international student living off-campus with your dependants, in Waterloo Region, you’re invited to participate in a family interview. Your family will receive a $100 thank you for their time.

Contact to schedule an interview. Or fill out the contact form.

If you’d like to learn more about the project, click

What is this research about?

Over the last decade, there has been substantial growth in both the number of international students in Canada and the total number of mature student immigrants applying for permanent residency through the international student education pathway.

Mature international students are over 25, have typically been out of school for several years and have work experience; many are married and parents of young children. 1 in 5 international students is estimated to live with their dependants during their studies.

Despite their increasing aspirations to settle in Canada, international students are still perceived as temporary visitors, and their families largely remain invisible. Little to no research explores the lives of international student families and their housing experiences are often overlooked in Canada’s immigration and housing planning and policy.

The goal of this research is to examine the housing experiences of postgraduate international student families living off-campus in the Waterloo Region, analyzing (a) economies of housing (experiences of affordability in relation to financial security), (b) meaning of housing and home making in transience, (c) housing as space of caregiving-receiving.

How do family interviews work?

International students can participate in this research through family interviews.

  • A family interview is a 1–2 hrs of group interview that includes adults and children.

  • Interviews will take place in participants’ homes and will allow participants to tell their own stories, express their opinions, and share their experiences.

  • Interviews will include family members drawing mental maps/taking pictures of their home environment, and positioning themselves and others, to provide a lens into the way student-families produce and experience home space.

  • This family interview will be followed by an optional 1-1 interview (about 1 hour) with one or two of the adult family members at a time and location (in-person or online) that is convenient for the participants.

  • Each family will receive $100 as a thank you for participating in the interview.