Relocation accommodation, which option are you?
So your employer has given you a lump sum – or maybe it’s being tagged onto your next paycheck. Either way, you’re on your own when it comes to where you’re resting your head once you hop off that plane to pastures new.
From my experience, there are two ways you can arrange accommodation in this new country you are about to call home. I have tried both, I will let you decide which I preferred …
The fly by the seat of your pants option
There’s not an awful lot of planning involved in this option. The basics of it? Don’t plan, pray. Yes, you read that right. Book a hotel for the week and sort out accommodation once you get there. Because I am sure you will be well-rested and stress-free … you’ve only moved your whole life to the other side of a rather big pond. It’ll be fine.
Mike and I arrived in Austin with one week booked at a hotel. Thankfully, it did turn out to be a wonderful base for our first few days. However, jet-lagged and homesick, we went through the process of trying to apartment hunt in a city we did not understand. Where was it safe to stay? Where was reasonably priced? Where had good public transport links? (Nowhere, because Texas).
Thankfully, we did find a wonderful apartment in a gated community for the affordable price of $1200 pcm. If you are an adventure seeker – or minted – and are not overly fussed about finding a place asap then this option is for you. If, like me, you prefer excel spreadsheets and planning your life down to what underwear you want to put on tomorrow, read on.
The excel spreadsheet-er option
The moment Mike and I knew we were moving from Austin to London, I knew I wanted it to be a different experience to our first move. Immediately I downloaded several rental apps and had googled affordable/safe/transport friendly areas of London. If you are moving outside the UK, expat sites are your bible. Also crime statistics sites, just to get an idea of the type of area you are moving to. Then spreadsheet, spreadsheet, spreadsheet. What is your budget? When, realistically, can you move in? Can they do a Skype viewing for you? (many people will #thefuture) Or if they require an in-person viewing, do you have friends or relatives that could help out?
There is a certain element of trust renting somewhere that you’ve only seen via phone or photos.
There are a couple of things I would advise for peace of mind.
- Google the building the flat is in. What are the other flats renting for? Do any articles pop up when you search the street name?
- Scrutinize the renting company, you can get a pretty good feel from their website whether they are legit or not but it is always good to triple check. Maybe a friend or an online forum will have the answers?
- Google street view – simple but sometimes telling
- Trustpilot and other review websites can be a godsend when it comes to companies. However, don’t take reviews as gospel. Keep your researcher hat on and sift the gripes from the catastrophes.
Due to the time difference, I did have to get up at 4 am to secure our flat and I did secure it without a viewing (after completing all of the steps above). I can unequivocally tell you that it was worth it.
Have you had experience in securing accommodation abroad? What are your survival tips? Let me know!