guide to renting an apartment abroad

Comprehensive Guide To Renting An Apartment Abroad

Having the opportunity to live abroad is an amazing experience that everyone should do at least once in their lifetime. I love moving to a new city, meeting new people and settling into a new way of life.

One of the things that many people find difficult when moving abroad is finding an apartment.

I remember back in 2009 when I was looking to move abroad the following year, finding an apartment was the most frustrating and difficult thing I had to do. It took me months to find somewhere to live that wasn’t trying to scam me.

Thankfully, these days there are many more options out there and renting an apartment abroad is easier than ever.

Don’t worry, I won’t be telling you to go through a rental agency to find an apartment because they are too expensive and lock you into a long-term contract.

If you’re looking to settle down somewhere for more than a month, then renting an apartment is going to be the cheapest and most convenient option.

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Why Rent An Apartment Abroad

There are a few key reasons that you may want to rent an apartment abroad. If you plan on moving somewhere abroad for more than a month, then you should look into renting an apartment.

Obviously, it’s going to be a lot cheaper to rent an apartment on a month to month basis than pay for a hotel/hostel room on a nightly basis.

Furthermore, it’s nice to have your own space. The great thing about renting an apartment abroad is having the comforts of home.

One of the things that I find difficult about travelling is not having a kitchen. Sure, in some countries street food is even cheaper than making your own meals, but it’s nice to have somewhere to cook.

Hostels sometimes have a kitchen but unfortunately, they’re normally full of people trying to cook. In this case, cooking a meal can become a long and exhausting task while trying to fight for space in the kitchen.

If you normally stay in hotels, you’ll know that they don’t have kitchens but will instead have over priced restaurants that you can’t afford to go to every day.

By renting an apartment, whether it be shared or not, you have your own space to relax in your bedroom, somewhere to cook your food that isn’t crowded and you’ll pay a lot less than you would otherwise be paying on a nightly basis somewhere else.

Websites

websites to find apartment abroad

There are a countless number of websites available these days when it comes to renting an apartment abroad, however, I’ve found these websites to be the most useful and easiest to use.

Air BnB

Air BnB is the most popular website for searching for apartments online. Generally renting a room or an apartment on Air BnB per night is more expensive than some of the other websites below.

That being said, there are weekly and monthly discounts available of up to 50% off. This essentially means that it can be a lot cheaper than the other websites if you’re planning on staying for at least a month.

If you’re only planning on staying in one place for a month or 2, then this will probably be the easiest option with the least amount of organisation and research required.

Roomorama

If you’re looking for a short-term apartment rental then you might find Roomorama useful. Searching for properties is as easy as entering your desired location and the dates you wish to stay there.

I’ve found that there are less listings available on this site than other sites such as Air BnB.

Co-Living 

This website is a little different to the others because it lists apartments to share with others. Co-living specifically targets people who want to move overseas for a longer period of time, generally for more than a month.

Sharing an apartment will mean that you’re costs are significantly lower. Some of you may also find it easier to have flat-mates so that you don’t feel too alone when you first move abroad.

If you’re looking to share an apartment with others, then this is the website for you.

House Trip

House Trip has been designed for those people that are looking for an apartment when taking a holiday. These listings are generally more short-term. Discounts for longer stays aren’t normally offered unless you talk with the host directly.

Home Away

The main reason that I like Home Away is that it lets you search for apartments using the map view and check a box to say “Long-Term Renters Welcome.” This means that you won’t spend too long searching for apartments that only let you stay for a few nights.

If you’re looking for any discounts, I would contact the owner directly.

VRBO

This is a popular option for retirees and people looking to take a longer holiday. When searching for an apartment or room using VRBO, the listings will only show the nightly rate. However, once you open the property page, you’ll see whatever weekly and monthly discounts are offered.

Bars/Pubs

bar find apartment abroad

One of the best-kept secrets for finding accommodation is talking to the staff at the local Pub/Bar. If you visit the local English speaking pub, they will most likely know of at least a few landlords in the area.

Think about it, how often does staff turn around in hospitality. On top of that, hospitality workers overseas only tend to work for a few months so they can continue travelling, which means there are always apartments available.

This ultimately means that the staff need to know many landlords to house all their staff. These apartments will generally be well priced as hospitality workers can’t afford expensive apartments.

I’ve found a few different apartments abroad through this method and is the first thing I recommend you do after arriving abroad.

Go for a beer at the pub, be friendly with the bar staff and then tell them you’re looking for an apartment and more often than not they will be able to point you in the right direction.

Facebook Groups

facebook group find an apartment abroad

If you’re nervous about moving abroad by yourself, you might want to become a member of some Facebook groups.

Most of the bigger cities around the world will have 2-3 facebook groups specifically for people looking to find rooms and apartments. These groups are great because members will tell you about their experiences and give you recommendations of where to stay.

To look for different Facebook groups in your city, all you have to do is search  “rooms/apartments in ______” in the Facebook group menu.

What Does My Process Look Like?

my process find an apartment abroadNow that you know the different ways you can rent an apartment abroad, you’re probably wondering what the best way to find an apartment is. That’s all up to personal preference.

In my case, this is the process I use when looking to rent an apartment abroad.

1. Go to Facebook groups, and search “Rooms/Apartments in ________”

2. Become a member of the top 2-3 groups for the city that you want to move to. Log on each day to see what apartments are available and start to get an idea of prices.

3. Visit Air BnB (or other website) and check what sort of discounts you can get for renting a room for more than a month.

While Air BnB is more expensive than other methods available, by doing this you’ll know how expensive a room will be for a month if you can’t find an apartment using one of the other methods.

4. Do a quick google search for “Rooms/Apartments available in ________” and see if there are any cheap deals for long-term rentals.

5. Book a hostel/hotel for 2-3 days. Because I’ve made this mistake in the past, I will always wait until I’ve arrived in the city before confirming that I will take the room long-term. It’s important to see the room because sometimes pictures can be misleading and the apartments can be a mess.

6. While staying at the hostel, visit the local English-speaking bars and ask the staff if they know of any apartments available for rent. By doing this, you’ll generally be able to find the cheapest deals.

Conclusion

While finding a long-term apartment abroad use to be difficult, it’s now easier than ever.

If you’re looking to settle down somewhere for more than a month, by following the steps above you’ll be able to find an apartment that suits your needs in terms of price, location and comfort.

Don’t get stuck into the trap of thinking that you need to go through a rental agency to find an apartment abroad because it will be too much of a headache. They will charge you a commission and try and lock you into a contract, which is usually a minimum of 6-12 months.

Use the resources that you already have available to you by visiting the websites listed and taking advantage of the facebook groups.

If you still haven’t found an apartment before you move abroad don’t worry. The best method for finding a cheap apartment is visiting the local English-speaking bars and asking the staff if they know of any available rooms.

Moving abroad is an amazing experience, so don’t let renting an apartment be harder than it has to be.

Have you rented an apartment abroad? How did you do it?

6 thoughts on “Comprehensive Guide To Renting An Apartment Abroad”

  1. Pingback: How To Make Friends Abroad - Move Your Life Abroad

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  3. Hello,

    I have a question regarding an appartmant rental and that is, if I decided to book an accommodation via Airbnb, how much time in advance is it the best to make so? I am now in France and would like to stay here just changing the region, but there are still 2 months left till my departure and don’t want to rush into it but at the same time it’s not probably a good idea wait till the Last moment? I don’t know know, really….
    Thanks for response !

    Michaela

    1. Hi Michaela
      Great question and I don’t think that it really matters which way you do it. To be honest, I’ve always been able to find somewhere that I like in a housing facebook group for the city I’m in within a few days to a week of looking. Obviously, for more security, i would recommend booking in advance with air bnb but that gives you a lot less flexibility. If you don’t want to rush into anything I recommend joining some of the facebook groups now and having a look through them to give you an idea of how often people are posting accommodation on them and how easy (or not) it would be to book something quickly. Hope that helps

  4. hey there i have a question.

    Can I actually book some flat before i traveled there? How does this whole process works? There must be some contract signed or payment made after u book? Can I do these things while still in my home country? Or can i do them once I arrived at the booked place? Do I really have to visit the room first before anything?

    I hope i was explicit enough and sorry I just never did such a thing before, renting a flat, especially abroad.

    1. Hi Cipa,
      Generally, I would recommend always seeing the apartment first and waiting until you get to the country. This is because there are so many scams out there that will make you pay a deposit for a room that doesn’t even exist…it has happened to many people. Obviously, one way you can avoid this is by booking an AirBnb long term as it’s alot safer. With all of that being said, you still can book accommodation abroad while still in your home country. My advice is that you must make sure there are reviews and recommendations about the place/company your booking from multiple sources. Unless absolutely necessary though, I would wait until you arrive and can visit the apartment. It’s easier than you think. Hope that helps

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