Questions To Ask At An Interview: Housing

mansion-aa0480161.jpgYou will most likely spend even more time at “home” than at work…so it makes sense to come prepared with some questions about housing as well:

Is it included?
Is housing included in your employment “package”, and is it single or shared? If it is meant to be shared and you’d rather have your own place, is there a possibility of a housing allowance which can be put towards the rent of a single apartment while you pay the remainder?

What is it like?
Obviously this is a very broad question, but you can ask: where is it and how far from the school (on foot? By public transport?). Is it furnished, and what does that mean – furniture is kind of a given, but what about kitchen utensils, sheets and towels, a television?

How will you find a place?

If housing isn’t included and you need to pay for or even find your own, try to see what support or information the school will provide. Having a school staff member read ads, view apartments with you and negotiate will obviously be a huge help. They will have a feeling for what is standard and if a landlord seems “okay” (in contrast to being a total weirdo, which is not always immediately apparent across cultures.) If they offer informal help – ask questions about who specifically will accompany or help you and how much time they can really invest in it. The lone receptionist who doesn’t speak English may have every intention of helping, but this may not turn out to be very practical.

How much does it cost?
If your school cannot help you with the logistics, try to at least get information on typical rents, bills and deposits before you make a final decision about the job. In Sarajevo there was no contract at all and I paid my rent in cash – I never received a receipt of any kind and never had any problems. In fact the rent went down after six months in one place. In Slovenia, it’s not uncommon for a landlord to ask for a year’s deposit. This is not necessarily some kind of abuse…but it would certainly be good to know in advance. Finally, as you would at home, find out which bills are included – and also ask specifically what other costs you have to cover.