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How to find accommodation when moving abroad?

Moving abroad the first time is exciting and a big step in life. It teaches you many things about yourself and widens your understanding of different cultures. Often moving abroad might stay at the level of consideration when doubt steps in the game. How will I find an apartment? Can I trust the leaser that doesn’t speak fluent English?

Finding an apartment from a foreign country is possible even with language barriers.

After you have been living abroad for the first time, moving to other countries becomes natural. Soon renting an apartment from a country you’ve never been in becomes as natural as renting it from that small neighboring town of your childhood home. And yes, I’m speaking from personal experience.

Valuable tips on making a rental agreement

The fourth time I was moving alone, I went to Thailand while I had never been to Asia. Still, renting an apartment from abroad felt easy and I ended up looking for an apartment and renting one just a few days before departure. Therefore, renting an apartment from a foreign country might feel scary now, but after doing it once, it will feel so much easier in the future!

Naturally, there is something to learn every time. Even though I felt like an expert, I was far from that! Luckily, you can now learn from my mistakes without making the same ones yourself. View some options below and make your conclusion on what fits you best.

  • Rent a temporary accommodation (Airbnb, Hostel, 2-4 weeks contract…) and look for a permanent one once you arrive.
  • If you think you found the perfect apartment with a reliable leaser, make a contract for the first month before signing up for several months. When you get there, you might find a cheaper option when you get a more realistic picture of what people around you are paying. If at this point you have a contract for 4 months, you might end up paying too much compared to the local price while not being able to change the apartment.
  • Check for reviews online on the property you’re looking at. If it’s private and there are no reviews available, you can go back to renting first temporary accommodation or do a 1-month contract and go to the viewings once you get to the new country.
  • Always take care that the contract is clearly made, and you understand what it says. If you feel like it is missing some details, you can even write it again, add your terms and suggest it. Contract should include at least the names and contact details of you and the leaser, the address of the apartment, dates the lease agreement is valid for, terms on ending the contract (who cleans the apartment, is there a payment if they need to order someone to clean it, what are the terms of getting the deposit back…) and signatures.
  • Take pictures from everywhere in the apartment on arrival! If you find cracks, a dirty corner, broken handle… save that all on your phone where you’re able to prove when you’ve taken the pictures. This will prevent you from losing the deposit payment for something you’re not guilty for.

Tips on finding rental apartments

To find rental apartments, you have to keep searching and use some hours online. I have used Amsterdam as an example – simply replace it with the city you’re looking an apartment from in order to use the tips!

  • Translate “rent apartments” into the local language and Google it. This way you find the local websites.
  • Search and join Facebook groups by searching with keywords. For example, “rent in Amsterdam”, “rooms for rent in Amsterdam”, and translated version “huur I Amsterdam”; “kamers te huur”
  • Google for “tips for renting in Amsterdam” and you get guidance from locals.
  • When arriving, your new co-workers might have some valuable tips on finding an apartment! Have the courage to ask around.
  • Google or ask locals if they have phone Apps for Android and iOS that help in finding an apartment. For example, in Amsterdam they have “kamernet” that helps you to find a room to rent.

When a company offers you a temporary accommodation for 2 weeks, for example, it is a great privilege. If you have such an offer, have an open mind for finding suitable accommodation and begin your search! Good luck 😊

Terhi Raudaskoski – Talent Hunter
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