Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Global & Multicultural

Study Abroad: How to Find Housing

This article was written by Delane Zahoruiko, an Education Abroad Peer Advisor who studied abroad for a semester in Singapore  last fall and participated on the Paris Elective Abroad this summer

Congrats, you are studying abroad soon! You are about to leave home for an exchange semester or possibly an entire year and will have exciting new adventures ahead of you. That’s great and all, but you found out that your program doesn’t offer housing. What are you to do? You may feel overwhelmed when tasked with the challenge of finding and renting accommodation in a city you barely know. So, here are some tips to alleviate the stress and help you navigate accommodation in a foreign places:

Step 1: Ask your university what they offer.

A great place to start is with the university you will be attending. Many universities have a network of landlords or agents who can help you with your search. Your university may be able to connect you with current students or other exchange students that also need to find housing. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other students to see what they are doing. Everyone is in the same position as you. The university and its students can be your best resources when looking for accommodation because they have experience in this city/country and know the proper budget you will have to set aside for rent.

Step 2: Get the facts.

Do your research on the city. Find out what areas are safe and close to your school. This is important. You don’t want to be stuck in a sketchy neighborhood paying far too much for what you are getting. Google Maps, travel guides (Lonely Planet or Time Out), Street View and even YouTube are great resources to gain insight into the best places for student living.

Step 3: Is the price is right?

Decide what you are willing to pay. Many students will opt for cheaper housing by adding more roommates in order to save money for travel and other adventures. Ask your university and students what are good rates then do your own research and set a price point.

Step 4: Roommates.

They are sort of like family except you aren’t related to them and, also, some of them are crazy. Roommates are a great way to lower your costs. Reach out to your university about connecting you to other exchange students. They are in the same situation as you and probably worrying about all the same things.  Does your university have a Facebook group for exchange students or some other type of forum where you could find others who are in the same situation? Having roommates allows you to live with locals or people from different cultures than your own. They can also make for great travel buddies!

Step 5: Go online.

Search for places online. Use all of the knowledge you have gained so far to look for places in the district you want, at the price you want, with the roommates you want. There are plenty of platforms to look on.

Step 6: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

This goes for a lot of things. However, with accommodation in an unfamiliar city, it is extremely pertinent. Don’t be naïve. Scams can happen in the biggest or smallest of cities. While scams aren’t always detectable, here are some tips: if it’s a great location, with a great price below average, and great pictures, then it’s probably a scam. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. However, the best way to find out for sure is to contact the landlord or other persons listed. Convey your interest and wait for a response. If they want you to pay before ever seeing the apartment, do not accept.  Never pay before seeing the apartment and signing a contract in person.

Step 7: Signed, sealed, delivered.

Before signing, make sure to read carefully through your contract and make necessary adjustments. After you sign a contract, send your deposit to solidify your spot.

Alternatively. . .

Many students will go to the country they are studying before doing any research. They may stay in a hostel full of other students also looking for accommodation. Hostels may have a bad rep, but they are actually a great way to connect to other foreign students who are in the same situation as you. If you are not one for research, this may be a good alternative for you.

These are basic guidelines for searching for accommodation in a foreign place. However, every city is different. The most important step is to contact your university to learn more about what they recommend for housing.