Tips For Finding Your Own Accommodation
Don’t let the challenge of finding your own accommodation abroad stop you. Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way – sometimes I’ve found my own accommodation and sometimes the school I’ve worked for has helped me.
- Do what you can to learn about housing norms on your own – by getting in contact with people, locals or foreigners, who live there and asking, by reading what people have to say on the web about accommodation there, and by checking out local listings for accommodation if you can. This is not always easy and you may not end up with a wealth of info, but whatever you can do will help.
- Get a local to help you, even if it means you need to pay that person. Not only are they likely to help you get a fair deal and know the norms for safe neighborhoods, what’s often included, etc. (and you should have a good idea of this yourself if you’ve investigated – so you won’t be totally reliant on that person’s word), they will probably have more insight into whether the landlord/owner is “okay” or not.
- Don’t rely only on English language ads – obviously this is more difficult in some places/ with some languages depending on your background – but realize that this rarely represents the full picture and may be geared towards business travelers or longer-term tourists who have a bigger budget. You may be able to get someone who speaks the language to help you pick out relevant ads and then call them yourself in English.
Don’t rule out roommates in general – sure, many people may prefer their own place – but finding short term roommate may give you the chance to find something good or perhaps test it out. In places where there is a substantial deposit or you need local credit to get your own place, a roommate who already has that may be a necessity.
- Don’t rule out local roommates – many people speak English even if they don’t place an ad in English. This can be a good way to make local friends, and it may be interesting for them to live with a foreigner as well.
Do what you can to ensure the details are worked out – what’s included, when you need to pay, whether the landlord needs to let you know in advance if he wants to come over, etc – but realize that it’s hard to know evry and you will probably have to end up compromising at some point.
- There are of course lots of advantages to having a school or employer sort out housing for you – and if it’s an option it may be worth taking to save yourself the hassle and risk of finding your own. But keep in mind that finding your own accommodation gives you a bit of an edge with your employer – it is that much more difficult to resist unfair work requests when they are in charge of the place you live. It also means that if you need to move later, you already know how to do it.
Stay tuned for some of my own adventures in accommodation!