Sometimes the most affordable and flexible way to secure somewhere to live when moving abroad is to rent. Letting somewhere can give you a level of flexibility and choice that going down the route of buying your own property lacks.
That said, it’s not a good idea to blindly sign a rental contract in a new country without doing a bit of ‘due diligence’ preparation and research, as conditions there will likely be quite different from the UK.
Keep reading to see some suggestions for making your move as seamless as possible.
Before the move, do your homework
Just as with buying a property overseas, your first step in renting should be to do plenty of research.
If you already have somewhere in mind and it’s a short term rental, do a web search to see if you can find any reviews from previous tenants. You are more likely to be successful if you are planning to rent through a larger company instead of a private landlord, as there will likely be more ex-tenants. What do the reviews say? Are they good or bad?
When it comes to the contents of a rental property, making sure that the landlord’s definitions of ‘furnished’ and ‘unfurnished’ match up with your own can prevent any unpleasant surprises.
Knowing who is expected to pay for what is also important in furnished properties, primarily with regard to plumbing and electrics. Also, check to see if utility bills are included in the rent.
Find out the local laws governing rentals
Unless you’re going somewhere like the US or Australia, or happen to be completely fluent in the native language of the country that you’re moving to, chances are that you will need help with understanding the tenancy contract.
With that in mind, it is advisable to hire a solicitor or local property lawyer who can guide you around the potential pitfalls of the rental process, especially if the contract is in a different language.
Different countries have very different laws governing rentals, offering differing degrees of statutory protection for the tenant. For example, in France the law is relatively favourable towards renters, who enjoy protected three-year tenancies in unfurnished properties.
Additionally, tenants in France can live without fear of being evicted during the coldest months of the year thanks to the trêve hivernale or ‘winter truce’ law.
In the US, on the other hand, rental laws vary from state to state. Some states have laws preventing the government from imposing rent control, while others have longstanding laws to keep a rein on excessive increases in rental costs.
However, just as in the UK, you have certain rights as a prospective tenant during the search process – if a landlord asks for an advance sum just to view a property, this should immediately set alarm bells ringing.
If the property seems acceptable but you are unsure about the area, consider getting a short-term lease so that you can get a feel for everyday life there without being trapped in a long-term arrangement.
Airbnb and other short term rental websites
An excellent way for you to ‘try before you buy’ in terms of moving to a new country is to simply rent a property through peer-to-peer rentals sites such as Airbnb.
Whilst many properties are focused on holiday lets, and are priced accordingly, others offer long term lets – especially in places where there is an off-season. And if long-term letting isn’t for you, you can simply hop from one place to another, staying for a week or two at a time, until you find somewhere that’s ideal for you.
The advantage of using these sites is that you’ll likely be able to pick and choose from a great number of properties, and there will be reviews and pictures from former renters enabling you to gauge the quality from afar.
What’s more, online payment is simple and straightforward, and rental contracts are entirely avoided as the rental agreement will be governed by the rules set out by the website, which the property owner must abide by.
Renting somewhere abroad can be a challenging experience as you set down roots in a new country: take a look at the Everything Overseas blog if you’re looking to save money when moving abroad or just want a good reason to move overseas.