Finding a flat can be one of the most stressful and time-consuming aspects of moving abroad. It can be hard to know exactly what you’re looking for or even where to look for it when you’re unfamiliar with your new city and its housing market.
Thankfully, we live in a day and age where there are various online communities and tools that can help you make sense of a new and confusing rental market.
To kick off your search, I’ve put together a list of my favourite resources to help you find a flat and make your dreams of living abroad a reality.
On The Web
There is a vast array of websites that can help you find a flat abroad. Classified ads websites can be a great resource when looking for a flat in a new city or country. These sites help you search and compare properties in your desired area and price range, and provide you with the key information (including photos) to help you narrow down and make your decision.
Many classified ads sites also let you correspond directly with the owner, giving you the opportunity to nail down the rental terms and agreements, and to get to know your new landlord before you’ve even arrived.
When searching for our flats in both Madrid and Stockholm, we relied primarily on these kinds of websites (Idealista and Fotocasa in Madrid, and Qasa and Bostad Direckt in Stockholm). Each of these sites had a ton of properties that met our budget and criteria, and we were able to easily compare them with just the click of a button.
Sites like Airbnb can also be a great option if you’re only moving abroad for a few months or don’t feel like locking into a long-term lease. Additionally, Airbnb is a great resource if you’re interested in renting a room in a shared flat. The platform lets you communicate directly with the owner to discuss terms, amenities and more, letting you get to know and get a good sense of your new landlord before you sign on the dotted line.
If you’re looking to rent a flat for a medium- to long-term stay abroad, chances are you are after a furnished flat or room (which I highly recommend, because shipping furniture is ex-pen-sive!). In this case, you can use a site like Nestpick. Nestpick is a search aggregator, which means it pulls ads from a number of trusted partner sites and shows you all the listings in one place. Nestpick makes it easy for you to compare properties and select the ones that best fit your budget, time range and criteria.
If you don’t have the time or energy to conduct your own search, consider looking for a rental or estate agent who can help ease the burden.
Estate or rental agencies will work with you to find the ideal property for your stay abroad, one that fits your budget and your needs. Simply give them your criteria and see what they come up with!
We relied on a rental agency to help us find our flat when we relocated to Leeds in 2016, and it was the perfect decision for us at that time. We simply popped into the office one blustery Saturday afternoon, shared our price range and criteria, and within minutes we had appointments to view several properties around the city.
As we’d only just arrived (and had horrible jetlag) it was great to have someone friendly and knowledgeable show us around the city, answer all of our questions, and explain the different areas and all that they had to offer.
It honestly couldn’t have been easier.
If you’re keen to move abroad and feel like the rental agency route is perfect for you, simply Google “rental agency” or “estate agent” plus the city and see what pops up.
Online Communities & Forums
Online groups like Girl Gone International and Internations can be incredibly helpful when moving to a new city or country. Not only have members navigated the rental and housing market and lived to tell about it but they are often more than happy to share the tips, tricks and resources that they picked up in their own search.
By posting in Facebook groups and online communities, members can point you in the direction of local websites or agencies who can help you find your temporary dream home.
Certain groups even have weekly or bi-weekly posts and threads dedicated to available housing options. In these discussions, members will post rental ads that they know about, usually for family and friends looking to rent. This can be a great avenue for finding a flat, as you’ll almost immediately have a personal connection to your new landlord.
To find different groups in your desired area, simply search “apartment in” or “expat” plus the city name.
Finding a flat in a new city can take a lot of time and effort. But with the right tools and knowledge, you can save time, energy and money while you find the furnished flat of your dreams.
Thank you to Nestpick for contributing to this post. All thoughts, feelings and experiences are my own.