Finding accommodation abroad
This may seem like a daunting prospect, particularly as house viewings are normally out of the question unless you have a spare helicopter. But don’t panic: finding somewhere to live abroad without actually being there is doable, providing you keep abridge of the processes involved and remember what you want – the right house is definitely worth searching for!
Ask for help
Asking for help doesn’t mean admitting you’re useless. It is the sensible thing to do, particularly at the start. House-hunting is difficult to do on your own, particularly if you’re not used to it. When you’re accepted to your international university, they will send you documents to get you started.
However, if you are organised and want to get started early, just email the university you’re hoping to attend and they will happily provide you with information regarding the accommodation available. And remember, university accommodation is not the same in every country: for example, in the USA you will normally have to room share and in France it is typical not be provided with a refrigerator. Don’t just assume – find out!
If you’re used to campus-life, it is important to remember that not every university operates in the same way and some do not supply university accommodation to international students or to anyone at all. If this is the case, they will certainly advise you where to look elsewhere without leaving you totally in the dark.
If university accommodation isn’t available (or you decide against it) you will normally be looking at a decision between private rented (single or share) or host-family. Private rented will give you independence though will be costly, especially single. Living with a host family might mean the sacrifice of some independence but would probably keep costs down, with the added bonus that you’d be immediately immersing yourself in the local customs and culture.
Watch your sources
Social media and blog sites are very useful for getting general information and a flavour of the place you’ll be living in, but if someone you’ve never met offers you a room online in exchange for a simple credit card transaction, steer clear! It may be a very innocent offer, but as the source is not reliable/traceable it will be difficult to recover from if it is a scam. Accommodation websites, or information forwarded from your university, are reliable and traceable should there be any problems. Search for trusted companies and landlords rather than going alone and hoping for the best.
Just because you can’t physically view the property, does not mean you should just sit back and do nothing. Be proactive! Ask to see photos of the property, or maybe even a skype tour. Ask questions: how do they want the rent paid? Does it include bills? Have they rented before (particularly to foreign students)?
Don’t be lax: if you end up in a horrible house on the other side of the world, you can’t just pop home to sleep. Accept the help offered to you, be vigilant, be informed and most of all be patient: processes overseas may take longer than at home, but the perfect accommodation is definitely worth waiting for.