How to Find an Apartment Abroad
There are many benefits to finding an apartment abroad and temporarily living overseas as opposed to staying in hostels and hotels. First of all, if you’re staying for more than one month in the same area than it´s usually cheaper to rent an apartment. Secondly, it allows you to really experience the culture of another area as the locals live it, which is something that you might not get by surrounding yourself with other travelers at the hostel.
When you’re looking to rent an apartment abroad, you basically have two choices: You can find a place to stay before you get there (usually researching and booking one online) or you can arrive in the town/city and stay at a hostel (or ‘Couchsurf’) for a few days until you find an apartment to rent.
If you’re already in an area, you’ll often find that the prices of local temporary apartment rentals are cheaper than if you were to book them online back home. If you’re being shown around a local apartment, you’re in a much stronger position to haggle over the price (especially if you can show them that you’ve got the cash upfront) than if you were merely booking something from the comfort of your home (potentially thousands of miles away). Obviously the better you are at haggling and negotiating, the lower you’ll be able to drive the price down.
Being in the area that you want to rent an apartment in beforehand means that you can fully inspect the quality of the apartment you’re renting first-hand – something you’re not able to do back home.
So how do you find apartments for rent when you’re already there? Rental apartments will be advertised in local newspapers, and in the windows of local supermarkets and café’s. Despite the positives, most people are cautious of doing things this way, since there’s no guarantee when and where you’ll be able to find an apartment.
Flying in and staying at a hostel for a few days is a great idea, as the hostel staff and fellow travelers will be able to assist you in your search for an apartment (by letting you know which areas are good and if they know of any available).
Finding an apartment overseas from back home is now easier than ever, thanks to the internet. On websites like hostelworld.com you’ll find a big variety of choices and prices on apartments (as well as hotels, hostels and other kinds of accommodation).
Here are a few great ways to find rental apartments online:
- Google – the search phrase “apartments for rent” followed by the city/town you want to stay in. For example, if you want to stay in Bali, Indonesia, you’d Google the phrase “apartments for rent Bali”. This is generally a pretty successful way of finding apartments abroad, but aware that a lot of the results you’ll find will be for management companies that’ll charge you a service charge for using them (meaning it’s worth looking at some of the other ways of finding apartments).
- Craigslist – Craigslist is like an online personal ads website, where anyone from anywhere in the world can advertise apartments that they have to rent. The site is handily divided up by cities/towns, so it’s easy to narrow down your searches by area. This is a great way to speak directly to apartment owners and to cut through all of the clutter.
- HostelWorld.com and Hostels.com – Don’t be fooled by the name – these sites aren’t just for hostels. They offer great location and accommodation reviews (provided by other members who have stayed there).
- Travel Forums – Forums such as Lonely Planet and Bootsnall have a wealth of member regularly posting on them, and these members can offer a wealth of experience. By signing up to these forums, you can post a topic asking people for advice on renting an apartment in a particular area. The responses you’ll get will usually be from people who have been there and done it themselves, so they’ll be able to give you first-hand advice on where to stay and what to look out for.
For finding ‘free’ accommodation (to stay in for a few days while you look for an apartment):
- The Couchsurfing Project – Designed for young people who like to party and need a couch to stay on for a few days.
- Global Freeloaders – Organizing free accommodation around the world and bringing people together. A great way to experience the world and make new friends.
How to Rent an Apartment
What to do when you find a place you like? Presuming you’ve haggled the price down to as low as you can get it, book it for the length of time you want to stay (up to a maximum of one month). NEVER commit to paying for more than one month until you’ve spent the night at an apartment, as you never know what hidden treats you might discover (such as it being located next to the local subway or a trendy nightclub that will keep you up all night).
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