Find Accommodation Abroad

Accommodation

Finding accommodation is never easy, and can definitely be challenging when you’re looking for a place to live in another country. It can be very time consuming, stressful and exhausting, especially if you’re on a budget! If you can afford it, use the service of a rental agency as it will save you a lot of time!

If you’re looking for a long-term place to live, it’s always better to visit in person, that way you’ll be able to be sure that there won’t be any unpleasant surprises, and you’ll avoid scams. Try to arrive a few weeks earlier so that you have time to find a place to live.

Factors to Take Into Consideration When Choosing a Place to Live Abroad

Budget

What percentage of your monthly income do you want to dedicate to your housing cost? By identifying your goals for your stay abroad, it will help you fix your maximum budget. For example, if your goal is to save money in order to travel more on weekends, you might want to share an apartment in a cheaper neighbourhood, further away from the centre. But if your goal is to have the time of your life in your temporary city, maybe you won’t mind paying more to live in a serviced apartment with a rooftop pool in the city centre. 

Neighbourhood

Learn about the different neighbourhoods in your new city and choose which is best for you. Make sure to find out if it’s a safe neighbourhood. Is there everything that you need nearby, like supermarkets, cafés, pharmacies, parks, access to public transport, schools if you have kids, etc.? Look for recommendations of places that you will often visit (for example a specific gym, coworking, library, etc.) to help with finding the perfect neighbourhood for you. 

Commute Time

You need to think about how long you do you want to be commuting from where to live to your office or school or coworking space? If you want to go to a particular gym, how long is it going to take to get there? Will you be able to come back by public transport if you like to go out late at night? Is it safe to do so? How much is a taxi to come back home late at night? You can do a price simulation on Uber or on other taxi apps that exist in the country that you’re moving to. If you’re a student, do you prefer to live on campus (which are usually out of the city centre) or live in the centre of the action and go to the campus only to attend classes?

Cost of Installation

There might be some things that you need to buy when you move in. If you’re there temporarily, you can try to sell them at the end of your stay to recoup some of the money. Is your accommodation furnished or not? Will you be needing to buy kitchen equipment? Will you be buying brand new or second-hand furniture and equipment? How much does it cost for delivery or for a moving service? Will you need to rent a car or a truck? 

Costs of Utilities

Don’t forget to plan for all of the utilities in your monthly housing budget. There might be more fees in other countries than what you’re used to paying at home. Ask neighbours how much utilities cost them to have an idea. You should think of: internet, phone, cable TV, electricity, gas, water, municipal taxes, condo fees, etc. Choose carefully between buildings, as some may charge more than others for condo fees or even charge a higher rate for some utility costs, like water or electricity. 

Agency Fees

If you’re renting an apartment via an agency, take into consideration in your budget the agency fees, which can be as high as a whole month of rent in some countries. 

Security Deposit

It’s very common in other countries to have to pay a security deposit when you rent a room or an apartment. This amount can sometimes be as high as a month or two months of rent. You’ll need to pay upfront your first month of rent and the security deposit when you move in. Plan to have this amount available in your bank account. 

Contract Cancellation

When you sign a rental contract, ask if there are consequences if you need to leave before the end of the contract because of unforeseen events. Is there a notice period? Will you need to pay a fee? Will you have to pay your rent till the end of the contract? Will you be able to pass on your contract to someone else? 

Local Housing Situation

If there’s a housing crisis in the city that you’re moving to, you will need to make a quick decision if you like a place that you visited. You might also need to convince your potential landlord or flatmates to choose you, as they can often have hundreds of people interested. Make sure to send a nice description of yourself and follow their instructions when replying to their listings. Try to be one of the first people to visit and let them know on the spot if you’re interested. 

Noise

Be wary of noises when you’re visiting different accommodations. Is it located next to a construction site, or above a bar, or in the direct line of departing airplanes?

Cleanliness

When you go for a visit, some accommodation might not be in the same state as they look in the pictures. Will you need to pay for a housekeeper or need to buy new bedding? Be cautious of the smells when you’re visiting apartments. Are the neighbours smoking? Is there a weird smell coming out of the bathroom? 

Getting Temporary Accommodation

In some countries it’s very hard to secure long-term accommodation and you might have to stay for many weeks in short-term accommodation while you are searching. Budget accordingly as short-term accommodation is usually more expensive. The best type of short-term accommodation while you’re looking for a place to live is somewhere where you’re not bound to a contract, and where you can extend easily if you need more time to find a permanent place to live, for example a hostel or a hotel. Otherwise, if you need to stay longer, it might not be possible to extend your stay. 

Type of Accommodation

The type of accommodation that you choose will depend on the length of your stay abroad, your budget, the cost of living in your new city, your comfort level and your personal preferences. Some people are able to live in a hostel for many months sharing a room with other people while others will need their own room or apartment from the start. 

Most Common Type of Accommodation Abroad (For Short-Term and Long-Term Stays)

  • Private room in a shared house or a shared apartment
  • Shared room in a shared house or a shared apartment
  • On-campus student accommodation (shared or private rooms) – also sometimes available to non-students
  • Studio
  • Apartment
  • Serviced apartment
  • House
  • Hostel
  • Motel
  • Hotel
  • Guesthouse 
  • Home Stay 
  • Coliving (for digital nomads)

How to Find Accommodation Abroad?

Your Network

Ask your friends, family and colleagues if they know anyone in the city that you’re moving to. Make a post on social media saying that you’re looking for a place to stay in that city.

Do a Facebook search with “friends who live in “City” ” and you’ll see if you have any Facebook friends who live there that you can contact.

Local Apartment and Roommate Finder Websites and Apps

If you’re moving to a big city, there are chances that you’ll find local websites or apps where apartment rentals are listed, as well as websites to find roommates. Do a Google search or ask on local Facebook groups to find out which websites or apps are popular to find accommodation in that city. For example: Flatmates.com.au in Australia.

Facebook Marketplace

Browse accommodation on Facebook Marketplace. If you’re looking for short-term option, make sure to put in “temporary” or ‘sublet’ or ‘short-term’ in the search box.

Facebook Groups

Browse Posts About Housing on Facebook Groups

Join Facebook groups for housing in your city. Browse each group’s feed order by “most recent” and look many times per day for new posts. You can find Facebook housing groups by searching with the keywords city or neighbourhood +  “housing”, “apartment’, “rentals’, ‘sublet’, ‘roomate’, ‘flatmate “,”house share”, “accommodation’, or these words but in the local language. Add the word “temporary” or “short-term” or “sublet” if you’re looking for a place just for a few weeks or a few months. You can also look with the words “erasmus”, “exchange”, “study abroad’, ‘international student”, etc. to find groups more targeted towards students. 

Make a Post on Housing Facebook Groups

Write a post on all of these groups saying that you’re looking for a place to stay. Try to make a short and friendly presentation of you, explain why you want to live there and put a friendly picture to make sure more people see your post. 

Make a Post on Other Types of Facebook Groups

If you’re looking in a city where there’s a housing crisis, try other Facebook groups than the housing ones, as those can be quite saturated. 

Facebook Groups With Common Interests

For example, you can make a post in a neighbourhood’s group (for example Surry Hills Community for a neighbourhood of Sydney) or in a group where you share some interests, for example “vegan + City” or “Volleyball + City

Facebook Groups by Country of Origin or Language Spoken

Find the groups for Canadians or Quebecers in your city or country, for example:

Canadians in Germany | Canadiens en Allemagne, or Québécois à Barcelone. If you speak French, you can join any of the French groups in each city or country, as those usually have way more members and are more active.

Whatsapp Groups & Slack Groups

There are many Whatsapp and Slack groups in cities or countries where there’s a big digital nomad or expat community. Lots of people will post only on these groups to advertise their sublet or their available long-term rental and many people post on these groups that they’re looking for a place to live. Consult our Networking and Making Friends page to find out more about these groups and how to find them. 

Short-Term Rental

Short-Term Rental Platforms

Short-term rental platforms are great to find a place to stay for a short-term stay, but they have very high fees and the hosts usually charge inflated prices. But if you have any issues, their customer service can help you.

Booking Platforms for Hotels, Hostels and Guesthouses

More targeted towards tourists and short-term stays, these accommodation booking platforms can also offer longer term acomodation. Some people don’t mind staying in hotels, motels, hostels or guesthouses for many weeks or months during their short-term stay abroad. Depending on the quality and location, it can come at a high price (but sometimes also be cheaper than Airbnb!), but it’s the short-term option that offers the most flexibility. 

Universities 

Look on university’s websites to see if they have any on-campus accommodation available (even if you’re not a student!). You may also find recommendations on where to find accommodation elsewhere in the city. Some universities might even have an accommodation’s listing platform where you can find rooms or apartments available to rent or to sublease. If you’re an international student or exchange student, contact the student mobility office or international student office to see if you can get a room in the student dorms as this is usually the cheapest and easiest option to find. Even if you’re not a student, you can still look at universities’ resources as they sometimes rent dorms or studios to non-students if they have availability.

Rental and Real Estate Agencies

You can find rental and real estate agencies by searching on Google or by asking recommendations on local Facebook groups. 

Serviced Apartment and Condo Buildings

Look on Google Maps or Google for “serviced apartments” in the area or city that you want to live in and contact them directly either by phone, email or by going directly to the reception in person to ask if they have any availability and to do a visit. 

Staff Accommodation

If you’re going to do a seasonal job in a resort, national park, in mines, etc., ask your employer to see if there are specific apartment buildings only for the staff. You will often find cheaper and easy-to-find options that way!

Classified Ads Websites

Search on Google or ask in local Facebook groups to find which classified websites exist in the country that you’re going to live (What are the websites like Kijiji and Craigslist in that country?).

Classified Ads in Local Newspaper

Although less likely nowadays, you can still find good options for apartment rentals in local newspapers. 

Notice Boards in Cafés, Libraries and Local Business

In some smaller communities, you may find available accommodation offers on notice boards in local businesses, like cafés, libraries, community centers, yoga studios, etc. 

Other Types of Short-Term Accommodation 

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing allows you to stay for free on someone’s couch or in their spare room. It’s usually for a few days, but you can also find some people that will let you stay at their place for a few weeks. It’s a good option if you’re on a budget for your first few days while you look for a place to live, and get to know local people from the start.  When looking for a place to stay with Couchsurfing, make sure to send several requests at once, as not all hosts will be available to welcome you. Also, make sure to only send requests to people who have several positive reviews.

Find out more information about Couchsurfing on our How to Make New Friends Abroad page.

Host a Sister Community

Similar to Couchsurfing in the sense that you can sleep on someone’s couch or spare room for free, Host a Sister is only for women, and runs only on a Facebook group. Find out more information about Host a Sister in our Networking and Making New Friends page. 

House Sitting

House sitting means staying at someone’s house for free, while taking care of their pets. You can usually find short-term opportunities, from a few days to a few months. It’s very competitive, so you need to apply very quickly when a house sitting opportunity is posted, but it’s really worth it as you can usually stay in very nice apartments or houses for free. 

How to find House Sitting Opportunities?

House Sitting Platforms

There is a small fee, but you quickly get your money back when you consider the rent that you’ve saved. The most popular platform is TrustedHousesitters.com, and it’s available worldwide. Here are some other house sitting platforms: Nomador.com, MindMyHouse.com, Housecarers.com. You can also find some house sitting platforms specific to a country. 

Facebook Groups

You can find house sitting opportunities on Facebook groups. Search for Facebook groups with “house sitting” or “house sitting + city or country”. For example: Housesitting International, House Sitting Australia Group or House & Pet Sitting Spain and Portugal

Work-for-Accommodation

Work-for-Accommodation means getting free accommodation in exchange for some hours of unpaid work. The number of hours varies, but it can be an option for a few weeks while you’re looking for a more permanent place to live. Or if you’re a student, it can be a good option to combine both experiences at the same time.

Read our complete article on Work-for-accommodation to find out more.

Home Swapping

Home swapping means going to stay at someone else’s house for free, and someone else comes to stay at your house for free. You can either do a switch with someone else, or use a platform that will let you stay at someone’s house, and someone else will stay at your place. It’s a good option if you’re going abroad just for a few weeks or a few months. 

How to Find Home Swapping Opportunities?

Home Swapping Platforms
Facebook Groups

You can find home swapping opportunities on Facebook groups. Search for Facebook groups with the keyword “home swap”. You can also see home swapping opportunities on the Host a Sister Facebook community, for women only. 

Stay With Friends or Family Members

If you have any friends or relatives that live abroad, ask if they have a spare room to rent or if they can let you stay at their place for a few days when you arrive, while you’re looking for a place to live.

Campervan

Van life or living in a campervan is more popular than ever. It can be a good option to try that lifestyle when going abroad. For example, many people buy a campervan when they’re going to live in Australia on a working holiday visa, and travel around the country working for a few months at a time in different cities while living in their campervans. It’s also very popular for digital nomads to live and work in their campervans from anywhere. It’s best to buy a campervan and resell it at the end of your stay, as rentals are very expensive. Make sure to have a certified mechanic inspect it before you buy it.

Campgrounds

People who are on a budget might decide to stay for many months in a campground. It can be a fun experience for a few months, especially for those getting seasonal jobs outdoors, or working on farms. 

Tips to Find Accommodation Abroad

Sublease

You’re usually going to pay more for short-term accommodation than if you get a long-term. If you want to save money and need a short-term place to stay, try to find a sublease: someone who will rent you temporarily their room, house or apartment while they are away for a few weeks or months at a time. To find an affordable sublease, the best is via word of mouth, or looking on different Facebook groups, Facebook Marketplace or on classified housing websites. 

Scams

Be careful of scams! If it’s too good to be true, it’s because it is! The best is to avoid sending money online in advance unless you book with a reputable platform or company. Be wary of the common Western Union Scams.

If you don’t have a choice but to reserve in advance, try to have someone in that city go visit the room or apartment for you. If you can’t, make a video call with the person renting and check on Google Street View or Google Earth if the pictures match the listing’s pictures. 

Market Price

Ask on local Facebook groups for recommendations and information about the current market price to avoid paying above norm prices.

Insurance

Don’t forget to get housing insurance abroad! Make sure that your possessions are covered in case of sinister or theft. If you accidentally cause damage to the property, do you have liability insurance from back home and does it cover you abroad?  

Contract

Make sure to have a legal contract, even if it’s just for a sublet.

Security Deposit 

In some countries, it can be difficult to get your security deposit back. Take a video and lots of pictures before you move in to protect yourself in the case that they claim some damage when you’re going to leave your apartment. Send an email to your landlord with these pictures and videos proving the state of the apartment and ask for confirmation that they have well received the email. 

Booking

For short-term accommodation on popular booking platforms, book as early as possible. You could have been able to get a monthly stay at a monthly discount, but suddenly someone might book one night in the middle of your stay and then it wouldn’t be available anymore. If you’re flexible, you can see if you can split your stay in shorter stays at 2 places. If you’re looking for a sublet, you might find some more at the last minute. 

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