Because you’re in another country, you should start preparing your paperwork, savings and budgeting at least three months before you go on the hunt for your perfect pad!
Three Months Before
The most important part of your search is determining how much you can spend monthly (or weekly) on your accommodations. A good rule of thumb is that your rent should only be between 25 to 35 percent of your monthly budget. Create a budget worksheet using Excel or use an online worksheet such as this one!
Deposit and First Month’s Rent
Once you have your budget worked out, you should begin saving (or maybe you already have the funds) for your deposit and first month’s rent. This is very important because in many countries you can’t begin the rental process without paying these to the landlord or letting agency. A good rule of thumb for the deposit is to have half the full month’s rent in cash. So if you have a budget of $800 a month, you should have $400 available for your damage deposit.
References and Credit
In some countries, you can rent an apartment without credit checks or references (lucky you!). In others, you have to have past references and a credit check done to ensure that you are the “type” of tenant they want. If you were a student in the country you plan to find an apartment in, I would recommend getting a reference letter or asking someone that knows you well and works for the university or accommodation company you lodged with for a reference.
Credit checks are another important thing! Many students don’t open bank accounts in their host country so now would be the time to get one. Use this opportunity to open an account and start a credit history with your bank. This will ensure that your letting agency or landlord can do a check on you. Remember to start using this account!
Four Weeks Before
Location, Location, Location
The location of your apartment is a big deal. Consider your lifestyle and what areas of the city, town or village would be best for you. If you want to be close to the trendy side of town, then be prepared to pay more in rent. If you want to be in a small borough, then you may have to pay more in travel costs. Figure out what you want in a location and then go from there. Judge if you want to be a walking distance to the nightlife, or near a bookstore. For some people, not having a park or recreational facility nearby is a real deal breaker.
We all want the perfect apartment, but let’s face it, we all have to compromise on a few things. Take the time to consider what you really need for your apartment to be the perfect home. Take your time and seriously consider this ... you may discover that you don’t need a penthouse loft to be happy!
Starting Your Search
Depending on where you are settling down, you have a few options. You can either go through a letting agency or start your own search via the newspaper, online search engines or taking a walk around of the neighborhoods! Either way, a quick Google search will lead you in the right direction to finding the right option for you!
Danielle Mair is a Canadian student studying abroad in London during the 2012-2013 school year.
By: Danielle Mair | Image: Source