How to Find Student Accommodation in a Foreign Country
If you're going abroad for your studies, either for a few weeks or a few months, you'll need to deal with some practical issues. One such practical concern is finding student housing – how can you find international student housing when you're not currently in the country? To help you through this, we're sharing some tips on how to find a place to live while you're studying abroad.
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Through your university
Wherever you're travelling for your study abroad, it's likely that the university which you're visiting will be able to help you with your move. Many universities have an international students office, or a visiting students office, which is there to help you with any issues you have – including dealing with paperwork, help with language problems, and finding accommodation. They may have a list of reliable private accommodation in the area, or a message board on which staff and students can post if they have a room to rent.
Some universities even have their own residence halls or other campus housing options, which you can rent by the semester, usually for not too much money. The advantage of going through your university is that people who know the local area can advise you on good locations, and what a reasonable cost is. The distance to campus is often manageable, too.
The disadvantage is that university-provided accommodation can tend to focus on being safe and in less exciting areas of town. If you want somewhere more adventurous in a lively area, then you should consider renting privately.
Through personal contacts
When you're moving to a new country, often you won't know many people there and so won't have a social network to help you out. But before you go, ask your friends and use social media to find out if there are any friends-of-friends living in or near to the area you're traveling to.
If you can find someone who lives there and has a sofa that you can sleep on for a few days, this can be a more relaxed introduction to the city and the chance to meet someone new. Ideally you would have a place to stay for a week or two and then when you arrive you can start house hunting. Searching for housing is much easier when you're already in the area – you can call agents, arrange viewings, and bring along a friend if you're having language issues.
Online Search Options
If you're looking for a short-term rental flat for a few weeks to a few months, then you can check websites like Uniplaces, HousingAnywhere, or even Airbnb. There are often short-let flats advertised, and you can see photos and descriptions of the spaces even if you can't visit them in advance. Of course, it's hard to say whether the flat is to your taste, whether you will like the local area, or how good the transport connections are, until you actually arrive at the place.
For this reason, if you're going to use a website to find your accommodation, it's a good idea to start a rent for just a few weeks at first. If you find that you like the accommodation very much, you can try to extend your stay or choose to live nearby. But if you don't like the place, you know you only need to be there for a short time, and you can look in another area of town.
Newspapers and Classified Ads
Finally, if you speak the local language already, don't forget to check out newspapers and classified ads in magazines. Depending on the country you're moving to, you might find even more options for accommodation which are advertised offline rather than online. This can be difficult, but if it works out, you can often save considerable money by avoiding estate fees or over-priced private accommodation.
If you do go this route, make sure you check up on local laws regarding letting, and that you're aware of your tenants rights. When in doubt, ask for a written contract which you can show to someone at your new university. They should be able to advise you if the terms of rental look reasonable.
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