The number one mistake I see people make when they move abroad is to get locked into a long-term rental agreement in an area they’re unfamiliar with.
I get it, finding a home abroad and getting settled in is stressful enough. However, it’s best to get a clear head before rushing into any decision.
Whenever you move into an unfamiliar country, I always advise people they get a lay of the land first. The best way to do this is for you to explore for yourself and to talk to the locals and other ex-pats as well.
Just like back home, there are some neighborhoods that are better than others. And abroad, you’ll often find that higher prices are not indicative of the quality of the neighborhood. Oftentimes, you’ll be paying for the quality and amenities of a house rather than whether it’s located in a good neighborhood or not.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Location does matter, absolutely. It always does. But be on the lookout for the best blend of value and location.
Renting Overseas Tip #1
To that end, I recommend that when renting overseas, look first for fully-furnished short-term rentals. One to three months is the ideal time to get your bearings and figure out which are the best neighborhoods given your budget and location of the places you frequent most.
Renting Overseas Tip #2
A great place to start looking is the small, locally-owned hotels in the area. Often, small hotels have one or two furnished apartments that may be ideal for a short term stay. Negotiate with the hotel or hostel owner on a discounted rate that will be paid in a monthly sum. This is often cheaper than renting an apartment and is unlikely you’ll be required to pay a deposit. Sometimes, breakfast will be included in the rate. Drop the price even further by foregoing daily maid cleaning.
Once you get your bearings, you’ll be in a better position to rent since you’ll not only be more familiar with the area but be better acquainted with real estate market rental rates.
Renting Overseas Tip #3
This also gives you a chance to scope out furniture prices, in case you plan to be settling abroad for the long term. Some of the best deals can be had by buying furniture from other ex-pats that are soon to leave a country.
Renting Overseas Tip #4
By the way, know that not all properties available are listed on English-language websites. Those properties can be actually more expensive since they’re geared towards affluent foreigners and likely overpriced by local market standards. Locals and ex-pats will likely be a better source of value-rich properties than what a real estate agent – working on commission based on rental price – will be.
Renting Overseas Tip #5
Last tip. Ask the locals what is the standard deposit amount required to rent a property. Foreigners are often blindsided with outrageous deposit amounts simply because they don’t know any better and because unscrupulous landlords know they can keep this deposit because a foreign tenant will not know how to put up a legal fight to recoup it at the end of the lease.
In essence, it boils down to being smart about your money and what sort of rental contract you sign into. Never rush, and take your time surveying the market before you commit any significant amount of money.