You’ve probably already looked for an accommodation once in your life. In this case, you know, that even in your home town or country finding a new place to live is no picnic. How hard must it be when you’re currently not even present in the city you want to move to or when you’ve even never been there? You don’t know how the neighbourhoods look like. Are they even safe? Which kind of people live there? Students? Families with young children?
This may sound like an unsolvable problem, but in the end, maybe it’s not as hard as you think… if you prepare the right way! Moving abroad requires commitment and patience – meaning also time. You will have to do a lot of research and planning, as well as organise yourself perfectly. All this, before moving to your new destination! At least, this is best if you want to be on the safe side.
Here’s how you do it the right way!
Start as early as possible
You should start checking your possibilities for accommodation as soon as you are 100% sure, that you’ll move abroad… or even before. All countries are handling this topic differently and, in the end, you might have to wait several months, because you only get on the waiting list for now. Better to know this in advance!
Keep in mind that searching for accommodation is a time-consuming process. Even more, when you’re moving to a big and popular city. There are hundreds of people moving there every month, so landlords get tons of requests. Be patient and don’t stop looking after you’ve sent some requests. Your search is only over, when you get a clear “Yes, you can move in!”
Ask everyone you know
First step: We’re living in the 21st century, so there’s no way you could not have a look in the internet and especially social media. There are so many Facebook groups for expats all over the world. Just write a short post in some of them – not only once, but maybe twice or three times, so more people will see it – and someone will definitely have advice for you.
If you live in a bigger city, there must be some meet up events where you can connect with people who already lived abroad. First-hand information is worth a lot! You might even meet someone who knows people in your future hometown and helps you to get in touch with them. This way, you kill two birds with one stone – finding an apartment and a potential new friend.
By saying ask “everyone” we really mean everyone! Sometimes you don’t even know who might know whom. It could turn out that the son of your dad’s colleague is living in the city you’re just about to move to. Maybe he happens to have some ideas where you could stay. If you’ve already found a job, also don’t hesitate to ask your new employer. He’s already living there, so he must know.
If you’re new in a city – or not even there yet – it’s easy for scammers to take advantage of your situation, especially when you’re desperately looking for a last-minute apartment or room. “There are no scammers in our civilized European society” you may think… but that’s not true. They are everywhere. You were just lucky enough not to meet them yet. The situation becomes even more “dangerous” for you if you don’t speak their language. They will instantly know that you have no idea of what you’re doing.
To prevent the worst-case scenario, always make sure you look up prices in your destination and compare them to the offer you got. Always try to be physically present before signing any kind of paper. Pictures may look differently from what you will find when you arrive.
If after all you don’t find anything, no panic! For the first month you can stay in a hostel, rent an Airbnb apartment or just try couchsurfing. This will give you enough time to visit apartments in person and pick the best new home.